7/10/2013 7:45 P.M. ET
Maldonado keeps Peralta in check on mound
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Who threw harder Tuesday night on the way to the Brewers' first complete game in two and a half years? Wily Peralta, the right-hander who was still touching 97 mph in the ninth inning of his three-hit shutout against the Reds, or his catcher, Martin Maldonado?
Surely it was Peralta, Maldonado answered with a smile Wednesday morning. But on four or five occasions, the strong-armed Maldonado fired a fastball back to his pitcher on the mound.
"I talked to him about having a better rhythm [on Tuesday] at the beginning of the game, and I actually throw hard when I want him to wake up," Maldonado said. "He'll make a bad pitch, [and] that's when I throw hard back, to let him know he can be better than that."
It has been happening less of late. Peralta has a 1.03 ERA over his last four starts, including a no-decision at Washington on July 2 in which he dueled Stephen Strasburg before exiting in the sixth inning with a left hamstring strain. The Brewers gave Peralta an extra two days of rest before Tuesday's gem as a precaution.
Maldonado said Peralta got better as the game progressed because he began to command a slider that caused trouble early. The pair executed 113 pitches in the sort of outing Maldonado sees more of in Peralta's future.
"I think he'll strike out more than he did last night," Maldonado said of Peralta's six strikeouts. "He's a young guy, and young guys don't always know how to have success. I think he has to have confidence in what he can do. My job is to get him through."
Maldonado has played a key role in helping Peralta contain the emotions that have gotten the best of him at times this season.
"He doesn't hide it much on the mound when he's mad," manager Ron Roenicke said. "I think when those things come up, and there weren't a lot of them [on Tuesday], but there were a few, Maldy can get him back."
Roenicke has tinkered with several different batterymates for Maldonado, the backup to regular catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Lately, the pairing of choice has been Peralta, a fellow Spanish speaker who worked with Maldonado in the Minor Leagues.
"It's a hard question for us, because when we try to match up certain catchers with pitchers, we try to figure out what the importance is," Roenicke said. "Whenever we sit 'Luc' against a left-handed starter, we don't feel good about that, just because he kills lefties. So we really have to weigh that.
"I think when a pitcher is pitching well, when he's on a roll, it doesn't matter as much, but trying to get in that roll, then if he's going to be more comfortable with Maldy, or if [Kyle] Lohse is going to be more comfortable with 'Luc,' then we do those things."
Braun, Aoki sit, both expected back on Thursday
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers outfielders Ryan Braun and Norichika Aoki are expected to be back in the starting lineup on Thursday at Arizona after sitting out Wednesday afternoon's series finale against the Reds -- Braun as part of a plan to ease him back from a long stint on the disabled list and Aoki because of a stiff left elbow.
Braun, who hit the first live pitch he'd seen in precisely one month for a first-inning single in a 1-for-3 night on Tuesday, will probably start in left field on Thursday, then sit again on Friday and start at least one of the weekend games leading into the All-Star break.
"He was in earlier and feels pretty good," manager Ron Roenicke said Wednesday morning.
Aoki, who was scratched from a start in right field on Tuesday, remained sidelined a second straight day.
"A little better, but not good enough to where we felt he was comfortable to go out and play," Roenicke said. "So, he'll be available to do some things late in the game."
Ditto for Braun, Roenicke said, but neither played in Wednesday's 6-2 loss to the Reds. And with first baseman Corey Hart out for the season and third baseman Aramis Ramirez on the DL with a knee injury, every regular left out of the starting lineup hurts.
"We're thin right now," Roenicke said, "but there's a lot of good things happening, too, like Wily [Peralta] last night and Braun coming back and the first swing he takes, he hits a missile to center."
Estrada could throw batting practice over weekend
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke hopes to see right-hander Marco Estrada move closer to escaping the disabled list in a live batting practice session at Chase Field this weekend.
Roenicke said Estrada, who has not pitched since straining his left hamstring in a June 4 start, could get a brief taste of the big leagues in a mound session on Saturday with Brewers pitching coach Rick Kranitz in attendance, and rookie league players doing the hitting. As of Wednesday afternoon, that plan remained tentative.
But if it goes well, the next step could be a Minor League rehabilitation assignment.
"Marco is making some progress," Roenicke said.
The news was less promising for two other right-handers.
Alfredo Figaro, who was originally expected to be ready for the D-backs series, continues to feel discomfort in the right ribcage strain that landed him on the DL. He has also been rehabbing in Arizona, and there is no timetable for his return.
"Figaro has undergone a number of diagnostic tests that have all proved to be negative," assistant general manager Gord Ash said in an email. "He will be pushed along."
Hiram Burgos, who was optioned to Triple-A Nashville after spending three weeks on the Brewers' DL with a right shoulder injury, will be placed on Nashville's DL with the same issue. He exited after 52 pitches on Sunday.
"When you deal with the same issue after you've tried to rehab and bring him back, then it seems to take longer the next time," Roenicke said.
• Roenicke said general manager Doug Melvin has been providing regular updates on trade talks and even solicited Roenicke's opinion.
"We've talked about what I think needs to stay here and help us in different areas, and who I'm OK with if there was a move," Roenicke said. "We get accused sometimes down here of worrying about tomorrow, and their job [in the front office] is to worry about next year and the year after. I understand that."
Melvin has been fielding calls on relievers, including John Axford, Jim Henderson and Francisco Rodriguez, and starting pitchers, including Yovani Gallardo. The deadline for teams to trade players without having to pass them through waivers is 3 p.m. CT on July 31.