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Lucroy could start at first today

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May 15, 2014

Don't be surprised if catcher Jonathan Lucroy is the starter at first base Thursday in the Milwaukee Brewers' series finale against Pittsburgh at Miller Park.

Lucroy worked out Wednesday afternoon at first base, a position at which he made nine starts in 2013 during the Brewers' revolving door there. The thinking behind Lucroy playing first base is to provide one more right-handed bat on days the club is facing a left-handed pitcher.

With third baseman Aramis Ramirez sidelined, Mark Reynolds could start at third, with Lucroy at first base and backup Martin Maldonado catching. All three are right-handed hitters.

Pittsburgh is starting left-hander Wandy Rodriguez on Thursday.

“I think if the matchups are right, I might get in there. We'll see what happens,” said Lucroy. “Obviously, it's one of those things where if I can get in the lineup and contribute, I'm going to do it no matter how I can.”

Lucroy was a little rough around the edges when he initially played first base last season but became more comfortable with experience and believes he can handle the defensive work.

“I got my feet wet last year and this year if I'm called on, I'll go out there and try to stop the ball and get one out at a time,” he said. “It's just about being relaxed out there. It's hard to break habits when you're used to blocking balls (behind the plate) your whole life.

“I'll try to stop the ball any way I can. I'm not going to try to do anything special or anything crazy. Just get outs.”

Manager Ron Roenicke said giving Lucroy some starts at first base “covers us more” while playing through some injuries.

“Last year I put a lot of guys in positions I wasn't comfortable with,” said Roenicke. “Luc began to feel more comfortable at first. He did a good job over there. We wanted Maldy to catch one of these next games so it may work out.”

Herrera in center

With Carlos Gomez opting to accept his three-game suspension while sidelined with back spasms anyway, Roenicke put utility man Elian Herrera in center field instead of LoganSchafer to get another right-handed bat in the lineup against lefty Francisco Liriano.

Herrera played 12 games in the outfield at Class AAA Nashville, mostly in center field.

“I feel comfortable there,” said Herrera, whose versatility is important while the Brewers play short-handed.

As for batting Herrera in the leadoff spot, Roenicke said, “He has been swinging a hot bat. We thought about putting Seggy (Jean Segura) there.”

It rubs off

The Sports Illustrated cover story on Gomez deals in great length about the special manic energy he brings to the team, which Roenicke said is a good thing.

“You need it on a team,” said Roenicke. “Sometimes you'll have four or five guys that are like that, but we don't have that many. To have him here is big.

“It's just like when Nyjer (Morgan) came here. The same thing. You get a little guy that plays well but just the energy rubs off.”



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