5/22/2013 5:50 P.M. ET
A 'Magnifico' gesture for Brewers prospect
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers Minor League pitching prospect Damien Magnifico has a big right arm and, it turns out, a big heart.
He pitched at the University of Oklahoma, only a few exits down Interstate 35 from Moore, Okla., the suburb devastated by a massive tornado on Monday. Magnifico took to Twitter on Tuesday, hoping to raise awareness of the disaster relief efforts under way, and pledged to make a donation for every re-Tweet he received.
Late Tuesday night, he sent $330 to the United Way of Central Oklahoma. That represents nearly a third of the monthly take-home pay of Class A-ball players.
"Just trying to help out," Magnifico said Wednesday from Iowa, where Class A Wisconsin was in the middle of a two-week road trip. "Mostly, I was trying to get more people to realize how bad it actually was."
His girlfriend, Emily Nichols, was only a few miles away, bunkered down in the Sooners' basketball arena, when the mile-wide tornado struck. Magnifico was scheduled to pitch that night in stormy Burlington, Iowa, and spent the day getting updates on the safety of his friends in Oklahoma.
"Once I found out everyone was safe, I was fine," Magnifico said. "But we went out to go pitch and from the first pitch on you could see lightning. That was pretty distracting." Thankfully, the game was called in the second inning.
Magnifico, 21 and the organization's No. 18-ranked prospect by MLB.com, features a fastball that regularly tops 100 mph. He is 4-0 with a 4.91 ERA in his first seven appearances for Wisconsin, including a 3.60 ERA in four starts. Magnifico was the Brewers' fifth-round Draft pick last year.
Lohse hoping rest will quiet elbow issue
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers right-hander Kyle Lohse will miss his next start with what manager Ron Roenicke called "irritation" in the veteran's right elbow, a potentially troubling development considering Lohse is nine starts into a three-year, $33 million contract. He began feeling discomfort "two or three starts ago," Roenicke said, and was recovering slower than usual between starts.
Another right-hander, Mike Fiers, will take Lohse's turn on Saturday against the Pirates at Miller Park. Lohse is tentatively scheduled to return to the rotation for one of the Brewers' games at Minnesota next week.
Lohse said his elbow first felt different during his start against the Cardinals on May 3, prompting treatment in-between his next three appearances. His elbow didn't improve or get worse with the treatment, so the decision was made to skip a start.
Lohse said an MRI was taken on the elbow but it's "structurally fine."
"The way it was going with the muscle and the spots where it's at, you don't want to mess around too much with it," Lohse said. "You're playing with fire if you keep dealing with that issue. We all came to the conclusion that it's the best thing to do. Just get it to calm down for one start and get back out there."
The Brewers signed Lohse only one week before Opening Day. He lingered much longer than expected on the free-agent market after going 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 33 starts for the Cardinals last season, in part because he cost interested teams a first-round Draft pick in addition to his salary.
The Brewers ultimately decided Lohse was worth that sacrifice, so they will not pick until 54th overall in next month's First-Year Player Draft.
Is his elbow a red flag?
"He didn't seem that concerned about it, so I'm hoping that it's not that big a deal," Roenicke said. "He could go out and pitch. But because he didn't have a Spring Training, we would rather try to get rid of this, so we're going to bump him a start."
Lohse's best years have come since 2010, his first year back from a rare condition in his forearm that required surgery. He was 30-11 with a 3.11 ERA in 63 starts for the Cardinals in 2011 and '12.
Lohse is 1-5 to start his debut season with the Brewers despite a respectable 3.79 ERA, mostly because he has the worst run support (2.11 runs per game) of the 59 National League starters with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title. The Brewers are 2-7 when he starts and have scored eight total runs in the seven losses, with more than one run in only two of those games.
Fiers started the season in the Major League rotation, but was bumped to the Minors after losing his season debut against the D-backs. He then was recalled to the Brewers' bullpen, when left-hander Tom Gorzelanny was placed on the disabled list. Fiers was the winning pitcher on Tuesday night after escaping a bases-loaded, one-out pickle in the fourth inning. He logged 1 2/3 scoreless frames in the 5-2 win against the Dodgers.
Lucroy taking simple approach to his slump
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers had hoped second baseman Rickie Weeks' three-hit game against the Pirates at the end of April would snap his slump, and it didn't happen. They hope things are different for catcher Jonathan Lucroy.
Lucroy went 1-for-4, including an RBI single in the eighth inning of Wednesday's 9-2 loss to the Dodgers.
On Tuesday, Lucroy logged his second three-hit game of the season against the Dodgers, including a first-inning RBI single that put the Brewers on the board and a fifth-inning single amid a go-ahead, four-run rally. Both of those hits came against his buddy Zack Greinke.
"I don't care who it is on the mound," Lucroy said. "I'm just glad to get some hits."
Lucroy entered Wednesday's start in the cleanup hole batting .225 with a .282 on-base percentage and .342 slugging percentage. On the morning of May 22, 2012, he was hitting .339/.386/.545.
"I think it's important to take this game at-bat to at-bat, and not try to think in bigger terms," Lucroy said. "If we can do that, if we can keep things simple, things turn out a lot better.
"I'm not a guy to set goals for yourself, because -- this is me individually; some guys can do it -- but when I set goals, I try to do too much. When I go pitch-to-pitch, I feel a lot better about it."
Lucroy has tried some minor mechanical adjustments during his slow start, but said, "the most important thing you can do it try to keep things simple. With myself, I'm putting a lot of balls in play. I'm not striking out. That tells me my hand-eye coordination is still there. All it is, is little tweaks here and there to find out how we're going to hit the ball hard and get some hits."