A hamstring injury will sideline Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy for 4-6 weeks, the team announced Wednesday, a surprising blow for a ballclub set to begin Spring Training next week.
The announcement came via Twitter and did not specify how Lucroy was hurt. He was in Milwaukee on Monday for an examination by Brewers head physician William Raasch, who diagnosed a "mild" right hamstring strain, then traveled to Miami on Tuesday for a second opinion from Marlins medical director Dr. Lee Kaplan, who confirmed the diagnosis.
Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash was to provide further details about Lucroy's status on Wednesday morning.
Even at the more conservative end of the prognosis, Lucroy, 28, should be able to play by the time the Brewers open the regular season on April 6 against the Rockies at Miller Park. But he will miss the bulk of Spring Training, and those lost at-bats could be troublesome in light of Lucroy's experience in 2013, when he sat idle for a few weeks in March as a backup on the U.S. roster for the World Baseball Classic. Lucroy cited that downtime as a factor in his slow start to the regular season that year, when he posted a .687 OPS in April.
He rebounded in the second half of 2013, then enjoyed a breakthrough last season, finishing fourth in National League Most Valuable Player balloting. Lucroy led the league with 53 doubles while batting .301, breaking Ivan Rodriguez's Major League record for doubles by a catcher, and became the first Brewers catcher ever to start an All-Star Game. He was particularly devastated by the Brewers' late-season slide from playoff contention and spoke of assuming a more prominent leadership position in the clubhouse beginning with Spring Training.
The Brewers have a quality backup catcher in defensive-minded Martin Maldonado, who signed a two-year contract last month. The other catcher on the 40-man roster is Juan Centeno, who briefly appeared in the big leagues with the Mets in 2013 and 2014 before the Brewers claimed him off waivers in October.
Brewers pitchers and catchers are expected to report to camp on Feb. 20. The first full-squad workout is scheduled to be held on Feb. 26.