APPLETON, Wis -- Following the Brewers' 3-2 win over St. Louis on Wednesday, the team had a scheduled off day before they headed to Cincinnati to face the first-place Reds. While the team traveled east to Cincinnati, Jonathan Lucroy went north on a rehab assignment.
The Brewers catcher, who was diagnosed with a "boxer's fracture" in his right hand in late May and has been on the disabled list ever since, faced live-ball pitching for the first time in nearly two months. "It was a matter of getting my timing back, really, and getting good pitches to hit, and putting good swings on the ball," said Lucroy. "Hopefully I can continue to do that."
Lucroy said he felt pretty good at the plate. Hitting third, Lucroy hit an opposite-field single in the first inning. In his second at-bat Lucroy hit the ball hard, but right at the second baseman, who doubled up the runner at first. In his third at-bat Lucroy sliced the ball down the right field line for a double. The three balls that ended up on the right side of the field didn't surprise Lucroy, as he was quite familiar with the opposing pitcher.
"Greg Wilborn, the guy that's pitching for them, he and I went to college together," said Lucroy. "It's kind of weird that he was throwing tonight. I saw him in the lineup, so it's a strange thing. He was actually at my wedding too, so it was really weird. So I knew he was going to try to throw me away, I had caught him before."
Manager Matt Erickson, an Appleton native, agreed on Lucroy's assessment of his hitting.
"He looked real good at the plate. He stayed inside of the ball twice. He hit two line drives. He showed a great two-strike approach, and dumped one into right for a double."
Lucroy didn't record an RBI, but may unofficially get an assist. Said Lucroy, "Brandon Macias came up with a runner on third. I told him you have to look for something over the plate, be patient, and hit it the other way." The result? An RBI single for Macias.
With Lucroy here now, and Carlos Gomez here earlier this season, this Timber Rattlers team has had the luxury of two Major League players as mentors for a handful of games. Erickson thinks the knowledge and advice they bring to the table is second to none.
"It's really nice. Gomez was here earlier, and now [Lucroy]," Erickson said. "Both are great character guys. They're good ballplayers, high energy. They're good people. He played the five innings, did his interview, and then he's right back in the dugout watching the game. He's a fan of the game, and he mingled well today. It'll be a pleasure having the next few days here."
Over the next few days in Appleton, Erickson said he expects a similar game out of Lucroy -- five or six innings and hopefully three at-bats. Following that, Erickson expects him to DH Saturday, then play the whole game Sunday. Thursday's plan was only for two at-bats, but a conversation with Wisconsin athletic trainer Jeff Paxson gave Lucroy another inning behind the plate and a third at-bat. After the weekend Lucroy will head to Triple-A Nashville.
While Lucroy has watched the Brewers battle back to near .500, he has also been a mentor for Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado. "He came to me and I had folders of scouting reports from the past two years, division teams especially because we play them all the time, but every team we play in the National League, and some American League teams," Lucroy said. "So he came to me and took all my stuff and copied it down. Two years of information, he copied down. That's helped him out a lot, I know."
Defensively, Lucroy isn't surprised with the performance of Maldonado. At the plate, Lucroy has been pleasantly surprised. "He was my backup in A-ball actually. I've seen him play for four to five years. Hitting wise, I didn't expect him to do this well. He's doing really well. I'm definitely proud of him, I'm happy for him. He's doing a good job. He's holding it down while I'm not there. Can't ask for any more than that."
Adam DeCock is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.