Lucroy team's surprise batting average leader

Lucroy team's surprise batting average leader

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers are more than one-fifth of the way through the regular season, and their best batting average belongs not to Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder but to Jonathan Lucroy, the second-year catcher who didn't take a single swing in a Spring Training "A" game because of a fractured finger.

Good luck trying to get him to acknowledge it, even after matching his career-high with three hits on Tuesday night.

"I got three hits. Great, grand, wonderful. Who cares?" said Lucroy, who was smarting from his own baserunning error in the second inning and starter Shaun Marcum's letdown in the seventh. "We still have things we need to work on. There's things, defensively, I need to work on to help our staff get better."

Lucroy will probably not be the next Johnny Bench, but he's not exactly the next defense-only Brewers catcher, either. He batted .298, with a .379 on-base percentage, in parts of five Minor League seasons after Milwaukee drafted him in the third round in 2007.

Last year, promoted abruptly because the Brewers faced a catching emergency, Lucroy batted .253, with four home runs, in 75 games while learning an entirely new pitching staff. He was not pleased with that offensive output.

"I've been working hard in the cage before the games by myself, just trying to get back to where I used to be a few years ago," he said. "I'm literally just trying to work on hitting the ball hard. Being an eight-hole hitter, that's what an eight-hole hitter is just trying to do, get on base, have the pitcher get him over and the leadoff hitter get him in."

Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee has been impressed. He just expressed his praise in a roundabout way.

"Catchers, they've got something wrong with them," said McGehee, a former catcher himself. "I did it for a while back there, and I was smart enough to get out of there. You're getting beat up, and if you don't have something wrong with you, it's probably not a smart place to play.

"What makes him so valuable to us is he does such a good job behind the plate, and he can swing the bat. We get the best of both worlds from him."