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."