7/21/2013 7:12 P.M. ET
Gindl walks off in return to Brewers' lineup
By Adam McCalvy and Kevin Massoth / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Caleb Gindl's most recent start for the Brewers was miles better than his previous two.
Back in left field for the first time since a poor two-day showing against the Cubs on June 26-27, Gindl went 2-for-5 on Sunday, including a sweep-clinching home run in the 13th inning that gave the Brewers a 1-0 win over the Marlins at Miller Park.
It was Gindl's first Major League home run, so he was not surprised to get the traditional cold shoulder. In this case, that meant his teammates hustling up the clubhouse tunnel rather than onto the field to offer high-fives.
"I kind of knew that was going to happen," Gindl said. "I saw [Jean Segura] at home plate, and I was like, 'I guess the rest of them are in the tunnel.' I was running up there to find them.
"That's the highlight of my career."
Gindl, a natural right fielder who is capable of playing all three spots, had endured some lowlights in a previous stint with the Brewers. He made costly errors in back-to-back games, including a June 27 drop that contributed to four unearned runs in a 7-2 Brewers loss, then was optioned back to Triple-A Nashville the next day after getting some encouraging words from manager Ron Roenicke.
"He told me he knows I can play the outfield, that the first time up here is always different -- which it is," Gindl said. "'I think you play with a lot of nerves,' he told me, 'Hey, go back down there and do what you're supposed to do, and you'll be back.'"
Gindl responded by playing clean defense and batting .421 with seven extra-base hits in Nashville's first 10 games in July. He brought that hot bat into Sunday's start against Miami.
"He really squared up four baseballs," Roenicke said. "Good at-bats all day, and we didn't have a whole lot of those, so it was nice to see him swing well."
He also played a mistake-free game in the outfield in place of Ryan Braun, who was used only as a pinch-hitter.
"When those things happen and you make one error, you think about it, like, 'Oh my God, don't let it happen again,'" Gindl said before Sunday's game. "Then when it happens again, you go, 'Oh, no,' and it's the kind of thing that sticks with you a little bit. That's not me. I'm not used to making errors at all, especially in the outfield on popups. ... It's nice to get another opportunity. I'm not going to play so timid this time. I'm going to play wide-open."
Gindl's bat has been his best asset since the Brewers' made him a fifth-round Draft pick in 2007. He is a .293 hitter with 81 home runs in seven Minor League seasons, but Sunday marked a first.
"Never in my life have I ever hit a walk-off homer," Gindl said. "That was the first, and it was unreal running the base. It was pretty special."
The occassion also marked a first for the Brewers: Gindl became the first player in franchise history to hit a walk-off as his first Major League home run.
The homer ended the Majors' longest scoreless game since Boston won, 1-0, in 16 innings at Tampa Bay on July 17, 2011, according to Stats, Inc.
Gindl never expected to be the one to do it.
"Not at all," Gindl said. "Not a chance. I thought Braun or Rickie [Weeks] or somebody like that, but not me. Me and Jerry [Narron, the Brewers' bench coach] actually just talked about it, and he said, 'Don't try to hit a homer. Hit a double.' That was my approach. When I hit it, I thought it had a chance, but I thought it was going to go foul, actually. It snuck in there for me."
Lucroy has outfield, first base in mind for 2014
MILWAUKEE -- The red-hot Jonathan Lucroy was out of the Brewers' lineup Sunday in favor of Wily Peralta's personal catcher, Martin Maldonado. Next year, Lucroy plans to work the first base and outfield positions into his repertoire to avoid a similar situation during a hot streak.
Lucroy, who is 9-for-14 in his last four games, said he had talked to Brewers manager Ron Roenicke and bench coach Jerry Narron about the idea and planned to start working on the new positions in Spring Training.
"The idea has been thrown around," Lucroy said. "I think I'm athletic enough to be able to play some outfield. ... You always want to keep the sticks in the lineup to give yourself the best chance to win. If there's any way I can stay in the lineup, be in the outfield or playing first base a game or something, that's what we're going to try to do."
Roenicke said he preferred not to sit Lucroy on Sunday, but Peralta has much better numbers when Maldonado is catching him this year. Peralta holds a 6.31 ERA in seven starts caught by Lucroy this season compared with a 3.82 ERA in 13 with Maldonado.
Lucroy says it is mainly a communication gap that limits him and Peralta.
"I can't communicate with him as well as Maldonado does; that's a fact," Lucroy said. "They work well together. Maldy knows how to handle him; he knows how to talk to him. Me, if I go out there and say something to him, he might not understand what I'm saying to him."
Maldonado, a fellow Spanish speaker, caught the 24-year-old right-hander often in the Minor Leagues, but Roenicke said with time Peralta would learn to call his own game without Maldonado. No matter who is behind the dish, though, Lucroy and the Brewers will do all they can next year to keep his bat in the lineup.
Roenicke said with some work in Spring Training, Lucroy could make a good first baseman.
"The thing is, if he does it for a while, he should be good," Roenicke said. "He's got really good hands. That's why Maldy's able to do it: because they have good hands. They're used to balls in the dirt and where you have to come up and pick 'em. And it's just trying to figure out where you are on the field, how you get to the bag and turn, and make sure you're still on the bag. If he worked at it, he could do it."
Said Lucroy: "It's just athleticism more than anything. The physical stuff I'm not worried about. It's the mental, situational stuff that you've got to really learn about and practice. It's an option down the road, so as of right now I'm a catcher, and that's what I'm always going to be primarily."
Hoping to end skid, Gomez sits with sore elbow
MILWAUKEE -- Carlos Gomez, the Brewers' All-Star center fielder, was unable to start Sunday because of pain in his right elbow. It is the latest in a series of ailments that have sent Gomez into a slump.
Gomez is also dealing with a sore left shoulder, which he injured making a wall-crashing catch June 23 against the Braves, and a sore left thumb, which he sprained on a headfirst slide into second base. Since a four-hit game against the Mets on July 5, he has three hits (two of them home runs) in his last 39 at-bats, dropping his batting average from .319 to .292.
"He's got some physical stuff going on; that's why he's not playing today," manager Ron Roenicke said. "He's got a little elbow thing going on, and he has that off and on, but it flared up [Saturday]."
Roenicke hoped one day off would be enough to calm Gomez's elbow to the point he could start Monday's series opener against San Diego. The Brewers also hope to have left fielder Ryan Braun back in the lineup after giving him Sunday to rest his legs following Braun's first nine-inning game since June 8.
After homering in Friday's win over the Marlins, Gomez conceded that his physical ailments had been affecting his swing.
"They are little things that complicate it when you want to be really, really good," Gomez said. "I've been playing because I don't think to play baseball games you need to be 100 percent. I don't put out excuses, but sometimes there are little things that don't let you do exactly what you want to."
• Right-hander Johnny Hellweg, demoted to the Minors before the All-Star break following a series of poor starts, re-debuted at Nashville on Saturday night and, aside from four walks, delivered a gem. He pitched six scoreless innings of an 8-5 win over New Orleans, allowing two hits with six strikeouts. It was Hellweg's seventh consecutive Triple-A victory, and he has not allowed a run over his last 13 Triple-A innings.
• Right-hander Alfredo Figaro was cleared to begin a Minor League rehabilitation assignment with rookie-level Arizona on Sunday. Figaro has been on the disabled list since June 25 because of a right rib-cage strain and is expected to return to relief duty for the Brewers when he is ready.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.