05/29/12 1:30 AM ET
Third baseman Ramirez, reliever Loe return
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
Lucroy to DL after injuring hand in odd mishap
LOS ANGELES -- Teammates were left shaking their heads as word spread in the visitors' clubhouse Monday that catcher Jonathan Lucroy had injured his right hand in a bizarre hotel-room accident, the latest in a long line of Brewers to go down.Lucroy will miss 4-6 weeks with what the Brewers termed a "boxer's fracture" of the right hand. That diagnosis sounded more fearsome that it was; Lucroy said he was reaching under his hotel-room bed Sunday night for a lost sock when his wife shifted a suitcase, which fell on her husband's hand. X-rays taken Monday revealed the fracture. The Brewers recalled catcher Martin Maldonado from Triple-A Nashville, placed Lucroy on the 15-day disabled list and sent him back to Milwaukee for further examination. Throughout the day Monday, Lucroy kept quiet and reported to Dodger Stadium to take some swings. He said it became clear that he couldn't play because he could not properly grip the bat. "I tried to 'wear it' today, to see if I could swing with it," a despondent Lucroy said. "I didn't want to say anything because I don't like not playing. I want to play. But I went down and took some swings and it didn't feel good, so I had to spill it." He spilled it to Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, just as bench coach Jerry Narron was preparing to post a starting lineup in the clubhouse. It was supposed to be a good-news day, because third baseman Aramis Ramirez returned to action after missing two games with a bruised left elbow. Roenicke chased down Narron and told him to hold the lineup. Moments later, Narron informed George Kottaras to prepare to catch. "It hurts our team a lot," Roenicke said of Lucroy's loss. "But feel really bad for him, too. He's having some kind of incredible year so far. He feels really bad, and I feel bad for him." Lucroy, 26 on June 13, signed a five-year contract extension in Spring Training and responded by batting .345 with five home runs and 30 RBIs in his first 43 regular-season games. He was the Brewers' No. 2 run-producer behind Ryan Braun, and baseball's best hitter so far with runners in scoring position at .514 (18-for-35), including .600 (12-for-20) with runners in scoring position and two outs. He had jumped from eighth to fifth in the Brewers' batting order, even hitting fourth in two games. He also handled four of the Brewers' five starting pitchers. "I think he was one of the guys we were looking to," said right-hander Shaun Marcum, who paired with George Kottaras in Monday's 3-2 win over the Dodgers. "His leadership skills have definitely been huge for us this year. He's kind of taken control back there, and that's something you look for. He's definitely going to be missed." Maldonado will start Tuesday with fellow Triple-A callup Mike Fiers, and Maldonado could see more playing time in the days ahead because Kottaras is dealing with a minor hamstring issue. "Somebody else has to step out behind the plate," Ramirez said. "Of course we're going to miss 'Luc.' He was one of the hottest hitters in the game ... and you're going to miss that. But somebody has to step up and do that job." Lucroy's setback comes amid the Brewers' brutal month of May, which began with left-hander Chris Narveson undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery on May 1 and first baseman Mat Gamel suffering a season-ending knee injury that same night. Outfielder Carlos Gomez, shortstop Alex Gonzalez, pitcher Marco Estrada, Izturis and first baseman Travis Ishikawa all joined Gamel on the DL in May, with Gonzalez lost for the year. Of that group, only Gomez is currently active. "We're not doing things differently. We're not working out differently," Kottaras said. "Stuff just happens."
Conrad bids for a hit in second Brewers stint
LOS ANGELES -- Utility man Brooks Conrad returned to the Brewers on Monday with some hardware in tow.Conrad was named the Pacific Coast League's Player of the Week on the same day he was formally recalled to the Majors, a perfect bit of timing to highlight Conrad's strange season so far. He batted .417 for the Sounds last week with five home runs and 15 RBIs in six games. He has a hit in 16 consecutive Triple-A games, and an extra-base hit in 10 straight. Oh, and stuck in the middle is an 0-for-21 stint with the big league Brewers. "I wasn't swinging the bat the way I wanted to up here, but I made one quick little adjustment after my second at-bat down there and figured something out that was probably the reason I was fouling a bunch of pitches off up here," Conrad said. That adjustment had to do with his hands, Conrad said. He credited Nashville hitting coach Al LeBoeuf for identifying the fix. "The confidence was there, the hitting approach was there, it was just a little minor thing that I was doing mechanically that was really not giving me the best chance to put a good swing on the ball," Conrad said. "I knew I was under the ball, knew I was popping things up. I just didn't know what I was doing mechanically. Hopefully, I made the right adjustment and I can turn it around." Conrad was the first Nashville player to win a weekly honor since outfielder Jason Bourgeois in June 2009.
Even with Travis Ishikawa on the DL, manager Ron Roenicke was not ready to declare Corey Hart the everyday first baseman. He said Taylor Green would continue to get an occasional start there. And one key to playing Hart more often at first base, Roenicke said, is getting outfielder Norichika Aoki into the starting lineup as often as possible.
"We need to score some runs," Roenicke said.
Roenicke met with center fielder Nyjer Morgan on Monday about Morgan's failure to run full-speed to first base on a key bases-loaded double play in Sunday's loss to the D-backs. Morgan turned toward home to see if there was a play at the plate, giving Arizona catcher Henry Blanco time to turn an inning-ending twin-killing.
"There's times when you have other things on your mind and you don't focus on the things you need to, because the play is still alive," Roenicke said.
One thing that might have been on Morgan's mind is that he remains without an RBI in 112 at-bats entering Monday.