May 2012

Attanasio: ‘We still think we can win’

The Brewers are 21-28 entering the 50th game of the season, and lost another starter this week to the disabled list, but Mark Attanasio is not backing down.

“We still think we can win,” the Brewers principal owner said Wednesday before watching his team try to secure its first winning road series since the first trip of the year. “We have great pitching. We have Ryan [Braun], Corey [Hart], Aramis [Ramirez], and I’m going to add Rickie [Weeks], who can by themselves carry a team. Any of those guys by themselves can carry a team, and has carried a team.

“You never want to see anybody get hurt, but we’re going to see now some of our younger players who we wouldn’t otherwise get an opportunity to see.”

Is he entering June with a buyer’s mindset?

“We always have a buyer’s mindset,” Attanasio said. “In seven years, we’ve always had a buyer’s mindset.”

Attanasio did admit that Jonathan Lucroy’s hand injury hit him particularly hard. Lucroy will miss six weeks.

“The only time I got down all year was when I heard about Jonathan,” Attanasio said. “I was excited for him. I thought he was going to go to the All-Star Game.”

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Lucroy will help however he can

Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said he would be as much a part of the team as possible in the coming weeks, even after undergoing surgery Thursday morning to repair a broken bone in his right hand.

“This is tough, guys,” he said in a call with the team’s traveling beat writers. “I was having a pretty decent year. We weren’t having the year as a team, so far, that we wanted, but personally I was feeling pretty good and I wish that this kind of thing wouldn’t have happened because I feel like I really could have helped the team win even more.

“There’s obviously nothing we can do it now. All I’m trying to do now is move on and try to heal up and try to help my team win any way I can in my limited capacity.”

He could participate in scouting meetings, and plans to catch bullpens after the doctors clear him to resume activity.

“It’s hard to accept, but you know what? It’s part of life,” Lucroy said. “Accidents happen. You just have to accept it and move on, I guess.”

He declined to elaborate about that accident. He previously explained that he was reaching under the hotel room bed for a lost sock when his wife, Sarah, moved a suitcase. It fell on his hand, Lucroy said, causing the injury. Jonathan told SportsRadio 1250 earlier Wednesday that Sarah had been receiving hateful messages via Facebook.

Sarah and the couple’s daughter will remain in Milwaukee with him this summer.

“I can’t leave. That would kill me,” he said.

Thursday’s surgery is scheduled for 7 a.m. CT. Surgeons will insert a pin into Lucroy’s fifth metacarpal to ensure the bone heals straight.

“Dr. Raasch stated the straighter this bone heals, the better, because it’s a big bone in grip strength,” Lucroy said. “Obviously, grip strength is important in swinging the bat. If it’s going to be done, it’s got to be done right. … As long as I have my grip strength back, I think it will be fine. I don’t think it’s going to be a long-term issue at all.”

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Lucroy will have surgery; says wife is getting hate mail

Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy told SportsRadio 1250 WSSP’s Chuck & Wickett that he will undergo surgery Thursday to correct a fracture in his right hand and said his wife has been battered by hateful messages on Facebook since Jonathan suffered his unusual injury in a hotel room mishap Sunday night.

Lucroy said he was reaching under the bed for a sock when his wife moved a suitcase and it fell on his hand. He suffered what the Brewers called a “boxer’s fracture” of the fifth metacarpal.

The Brewers estimated about a six-week recovery when they placed Lucroy on the disabled list Monday night. Assistant GM Gord Ash just told me that surgery will not alter that timeline.

Lucroy was just as upset about the abuse his wife, Sarah, has endured in the days since.

“It’s tough for me, because this is already a freak thing as it is,” Lucroy said. “My wife has been getting hate mail on her Facebook, like, messages and stuff. It’s really sad that these kinds of things happen from a freak thing. I mean, she didn’t do it on purpose. It was an accident. Stranger things have happened.

“It’s been a battle for me, personally, because there’s no one to blame, and my wife is getting killed by this. It’s not like she’s not hurt enough already, not feeling guilty enough already. I really wish people would just leave her alone, leave us alone, just let us try to move forward, and get this behind us, because this has been a brutal couple of days.”

That Lucroy needs surgery was news. On Tuesday in Los Angeles, manager Ron Roenicke told reporters that his understanding was Lucroy’s hand would heal on its own.

But Lucroy was examined by head team physician William Raasch in Milwaukee and apparently surgery was deemed the best option. Lucroy told Chuck & Wickett that surgeons would insert a pin Thursday to hold the two segments of bone together.

“The more correctly aligned they are, the better my grip strength will be whenever they heal up,” Lucroy said.

Thanks to WSSP sports director Chuck Freimund for passing along audio of Lucroy’s appearance on the station this morning.

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McClendon sent down for Fiers

The Brewers have optioned right-handed reliever Mike McClendon back to Triple-A Nashville to clear a spot for Mike Fiers’, tonight’s starting pitcher against the Dodgers. He will have a familiar face behind the plate; Martin Maldonado, also just promoted from Nashville, is the starting catcher tonight.

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Lucroy out 4-6 weeks with broken hand

Catcher Jonathan Lucroy has what the Brewers called a “boxer’s fracture” of his right hand from what Lucroy said was a falling suitcase in his hotel room Sunday night. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list and, according to assistant general manager Gord Ash, will miss 4-6 weeks.

This could be the toughest blow yet for the Brewers, considering Lucroy was their second-best run-producer and a vital part of the pitching as batterymate for four of the team’s five starters. There was a lot of postgame reaction to the news, and you’ll find it all on Brewers.com later tonight.

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Lucroy latest to go down

The Brewers’ injury issues have officially moved to the ridiculous.

Catcher Jonathan Lucroy was scratched from the lineup Monday with a bruised right hand suffered in a bizarre accident. He was reaching under his hotel room bed Sunday night for a lost sock when his wife shifted a suitcase, which fell on Lucroy’s hand.

Lucroy kept quiet and reported to Dodger Stadium to take some swings. It became clear he couldn’t play because he couldn’t properly grip the bat.

He was to undergo x-rays Monday afternoon.

“I didn’t want to say anything because I don’t like not playing,” he said. “I want to play. But I went down and took some swings and it didn’t feel good, so I had to spill it.”

George Kottaras will catch instead. He’s banged-up too, after experiencing left hamstring cramping on Sunday.

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Ishikawa to DL; Loe ailing

The Brewers placed first baseman Travis Ishikawa on the 15-day disabled list Sunday, one of several new names added to the team’s growing list of injured players.

Ishikawa is suffering from a left rib-cage strain and will be replaced beginning Monday by Brooks Conrad, who was 0-for-21 in his first stint with the Brewers this season.

Manager Ron Roenicke revealed Ishikawa’s previously undisclosed ailment on Sunday morning after meeting behind closed doors with his coaches and then with assistant general manager Gord Ash. They discussed how to best manage the myriad of issues facing the Brewers, who have six players on the disabled list plus a handful dealing with bumps and bruises.

By the end of the day, the latter group included:

– Reliever Kameron Loe, who Roenicke revealed was not available this weekend in Arizona because of right elbow discomfort;

– Catcher George Kottaras, who experienced hamstring cramping while scoring a run in the sixth inning of Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the D-backs and is considered day-to-day;

– Center fielder Carlos Gomez, who is still not running at 100 percent since returning from a hamstring strain;

– And third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who was forced to miss a second straight start Sunday with a bruised left elbow.

Ramirez was hurt on a ninth-inning hit by pitch on Friday night. The Brewers were hopeful he’d play Sunday; now that same sense of hope shifts to Monday in Los Angeles.

“We’re banged up,” Roenicke said.

Ishikawa started feeling discomfort on his left side during the Brewers’ May 16-17 visit to Houston, though he’s not sure how he was hurt. He has played in five games since then.

“I’m trying to play through it,” Ishikawa said on Sunday morning, hours before he landed on the DL.

With Ishikawa out, the Brewers could use a combination of Corey Hart, the erstwhile right fielder, Conrad and young Taylor Green at first base. But as long as Ramirez remains sidelined, the Brewers also need Green at third.

Gomez’s issue is less concerning. He spent two weeks on the DL this month and has been working back to full speed.

“He doesn’t really feel it, but there’s always that apprehensiveness of not going 100 percent,” Roenicke said. “He doesn’t want to go like ‘Gomey’ usually goes. It affects his game.”

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Ramirez upset about rash of plunkings

The Brewers scratched third baseman Aramis Ramirez from Saturday’s lineup, a casualty of a wayward pitch that struck his left elbow in Friday’s series-opening win against the D-backs. He had some compelling thoughts about the rate at which Brewers batters have been struck this season.

Opponents have dotted the Brewers 29 times, most by far in the National League and second-most in the Majors entering Saturday to Tampa Bay’s 30. No other NL club had been hit more than the Cubs’ 16.

Ryan  Braun (hit five times) and Nyjer Morgan (four) rank second and third among NL hitters in plunkings. Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks and Jonathan Lucroy have been hit three times apiece, all tied for fifth in the league.

“That’s got to change, because that’s not fun,” Ramirez said. “You can hurt people. Look at [Rickie] Weeks, he missed three games when he got hurt when he was hit by a pitch [in a game against the Cubs earlier this month]. I’m missing today. At some point, that’s got to stop.”

How do you make it stop?

“You don’t want to hit people, and you don’t want to hurt people, but at the same time, you have to protect your players,” Ramirez said.  “It’s one thing to pitch in and another thing to pitch at people.

“I always say, it’s tough to hit me because I’m far away from the plate. Braun is the same way, he’s far away from the plate. If you hit Braun or myself, it doesn’t have to be on purpose, but we shouldn’t be hit that often. That’s why I say, it’s hard to make it stop, and I understand that pitchers have to pitch in, they have to use both sides of the plate, but if you don’t know how to pitch in, you shouldn’t be going in there.”

Either Brewers pitchers are not working inside, or they are hitting their spots when they do. Entering Friday, they had hit the third-fewest opposing batters — nine — in the Majors.

Ramirez was in the Brewers’ original lineup but that changed before the team took the field to stretch. Cody Ransom shifted from shortstop to third base and Edwin Maysonet was inserted as the starter at shortstop.

“I’m doing all right,” Ramirez said. “I’m going to take today off and work on it. Hopefully, I’ll be ready to go [Sunday].”

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Izturis to DL as shortstop shortage worsens

The Brewers placed veteran shortstop Cesar Izturis on the 15-day disabled list after he strained his left hamstring during a 7-1 win over the D-backs, an injury that further depleted the team’s thinnest position.

Cody Ransom, who’d just joined the Brewers on Friday after they claimed him off waivers, took over at shortstop after Izturis’ sixth-inning departure and will start there on Saturday. Edwin Maysonet, optioned to Triple-A Nashville to clear Ransom’s roster spot, will rejoin the team.

The Brewers already lost Opening Day shortstop Alex Gonzalez to a season-ending knee injury.

How many hits can the team absorb at that position?

“We can’t take any more,” Roenicke said.

Izturis said he felt a tug in his hamstring running to second base on his sixth-inning double. When Corey Hart singled to left field, third-base coach Ed Sedar waved Izturis home, but the veteran felt another “grab” and instead held up, then rested his hands on his knees. After a visit from Roenicke, Izturis exited the game.

He was examined by a doctor at Chase Field and placed immediately on the DL. Izturis was unsure about the severity of the injury.

“It’s hard to tell,” he said. “Right now, I’m really sore. We’ll see [Saturday] how I feel.”

He is the sixth member of Milwaukee’s Opening Day roster to hit the DL in the first two months of the regular season.

“It’s unbelievable,” Izturis said.

Assistant general manager Gord Ash said the Brewers expected to get back a bit of Minor League shortstop depth on Saturday, when offseason acquisition Jeff Bianchi comes off the Triple-A DL. He is batting .346 in the Minors this season and had been sidelined by a forearm strain.

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Brewers mulling options to replace injured Estrada

The Brewers have discussed red-hot Double-A Huntsville right-hander Tyler Thornburg for their starting rotation vacancy but are more likely to fill that spot with a more advanced arm, assistant general manager Gord Ash said Friday.

The Brewers need a replacement beginning Tuesday for Marco Estrada, who strained his right hamstring in his last start and was placed on the disabled list. Among the options are reliever Manny Parra, a former starting pitcher, or a call-up from a list of candidates that includes Triple-A right-handers Wily Peralta and Mike Fiers, and, yes, Thornburg, a 23-year-old who would have to jump two levels.

“I don’t think that’s at the higher end of the probabilities,” Ash said. “You also have a roster to manage.”

And the Brewers’ 40-man roster is “more than full,” Ash said. It’s at capacity, and the Brewers also have three players on the 60-day DL.

Manager Ron Roenicke said the team would announce its intentions in the next couple of days, though it could go all the way to Tuesday, when the Brewers play the second of four games at Dodger Stadium.

He alluded to a desire to leave Parra in the bullpen, where the left-hander has a 3.70 ERA in 19 appearances this season, with 25 strikeouts versus nine walks.

“I really like what he’s doing in the bullpen right now,” Roenicke said. “Even if we have someone else start it and we have [Parra] piggyback, I would probably feel better about it, just because I know what he’s doing for us so far.”

That would seem to put Fiers and Peralta at the front of the line.

“They’ve had flashes of brilliance,” Ash said. “It’s just been rare that it’s innings one through seven or eight, clean. There’s always some hiccup.”

Fiers provided an example Thursday night, allowing four first-inning runs on three hits including back-to-back homers, then retiring 19 of the final 20 batters he faced. He is 1-3 with a 4.55 ERA and a team-best 49 strikeouts in 10 starts, and is already in line to start Tuesday.

Peralta, the Brewers’ consensus top prospect entering the season, is 1-5 with a 5.63 ERA in nine inconsistent starts. He is currently scheduled to pitch Sunday.

Also at Nashville is right-hander Mark Rogers, who is 0-2 with a 5.29 ERA in seven starts. He is also on the 40-man roster.

Down at Double-A, Thornburg is 6-0 with a 2.28 ERA in 10 starts, with 59 strikeouts and 20 walks in 59 1/3 innings.

“His name has definitely come up,” Roenicke said. “I talked to Rick [Kranitz, Milwaukee's pitching coach] today about him a little bit. If [Thornburg] had been with us in Spring Training and been lights out in Spring Training, it makes you feel a little bit better. When he pitched, he was a little nervous, which they should be. Those first times, these guys want to show us something. Nerves play into it a lot.”

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