05/29/12 1:30 AM ET
Conrad bids for a hit in second Brewers stint
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."
Third baseman Ramirez, reliever Loe return
LOS ANGELES -- While they worried about catcher Jonathan Lucroy's new injury, the Brewers did get a double dose of good news on Monday, when third baseman Aramis Ramirez and reliever Kameron Loe declared themselves fit for duty against the Dodgers.Ramirez, who suffered a bruised elbow on a hit-by-pitch Friday in Arizona, took some swings Monday afternoon and told manager Ron Roenicke he was ready to rejoin the lineup. Ramirez admitted he was less than full strength. "He felt like he could play, put it that way," Roenicke said. Loe said his right elbow felt much better Monday and he was available to pitch. That was not the case on Sunday, when he felt tight warming up in the sixth inning against Arizona and the Brewers went to Jose Veras instead. Loe's bout of tightness came after he threw 103 pitches while working three of four days from May 20-23. "It's always hard for me to say no, and it killed me [Sunday], I hated it," Loe said. "But we've had a lot of work in the bullpen and we don't need anyone else getting hurt, that's for sure."
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.