LOS ANGELES -- The Brewers optioned right-hander Mike McClendon back to Triple-A Nashville on Tuesday, but told him to remain in town after closer John Axford's pregnant wife had another false alarm.Nicole Axford went to the hospital Monday for the third time with contractions, only to be released on Tuesday. She famously started contractions on May 11, the night John Axford blew a save against the Cubs, and left a note for reporters explaining his absence. John revealed there was another close call on May 17, the night the Brewers flew home from Houston. Axford rushed right to the hospital that night, but the baby -- a boy to be named Jameson -- didn't cooperate. He did the same thing on Monday. "He's like, 'I want out! No wait, I'm good,'" Axford joked. Nicole Axford's due date is June 28. Manager Ron Roencike hopes baby Jameson holds off until the Brewers can get back home. "And the good thing about it is, the longer she goes, the better it is for the baby," Roenicke said.
Brewers will miss Lucroy behind the plate
LOS ANGELES -- Jonathan Lucroy had been great at the plate, but the Brewers will miss their catcher behind the plate, too.Lucroy will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken right hand, leaving George Kottaras and call-up Martin Maldonado to shoulder the catching load. Kottaras is dealing with a minor hamstring injury himself, so Maldonado made his first Major League start against the Dodgers on Tuesday. "'Luc' has come such a long way," Brewers pitching coach Rick Kranitz said. "He was challenged a little bit last year because he missed Spring Training. He really had to learn on the fly, not having caught a few of our guys at all, plus learning the league. He was so much more comfortable [with] this team coming in, and taking charge a lot more." Lucroy handled four of the five spots in the starting rotation, with Kottaras pairing with left-hander Randy Wolf. Now, duties will be split between Kottaras, a left-handed power hitter, and Maldonado, a right-handed-hitting defensive specialist. Kranitz may be particularly active from the bench with Maldonado, who caught only three big-league innings in a brief debut last season. "We've got to help him, yeah," Kranitz said. "There will be certain pitches, situations, where we take over, possibly. We'll see when we talk." It helps that the Brewers have four experienced starters in Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Wolf and Shaun Marcum, and it also could help that Maldonado has handled the current fifth starter, Michael Fiers, for the last two seasons. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Kottaras was feeling better after gutting his way through Monday's game on a balky left hamstring. He felt cramping while running the bases on Sunday, and remains day-to-day. "There's going to be more preparation because 'Luc' really prepared for this," Roenicke said. "He watched a lot of video, and he had the advantage of being with basically the same group from last year. He knows each pitcher and what they want to do in different counts, each situation. It's not always looking at the other side. It's more important to look at what your guys do well than pitching to the other side."
Fiers, Maldonado form rookie battery
LOS ANGELES -- Right-hander Michael Fiers and catcher Martin Maldonado made Brewers history on Tuesday as the first battery mates in franchise history to each make his first Major League start in the same game.Baseball's last such combo took the field right here at Dodger Stadium, when Zach Kroenke and Konrad Schmidt started for the D-backs against the Dodgers, last Oct. 1. Fiers started for the Brewers in place of the injured Marco Estrada. Maldonado took over for the injured Jonathan Lucroy. "The Brewers lost one of the hottest hitters in baseball," Maldonado said. "So I'm coming in here trying to do my best to help this team win, and we'll go from there. It's not difficult, because [Lucroy] did his job, and I need to do my job. "It's not like I'm going to put his shoes on." The Fiers-Maldonado battery was a familiar one. They've played together the past two seasons at Triple-A Nashville. "That's going to make it a lot easier for me," Maldonado said.
Lucroy has an appointment with Dr. William Raasch in Milwaukee on Wednesday for an evaluation of his fractured right hand. Lucroy is not expected to require surgery, but his hand will be placed in a cast. Roenicke said he trusts that Lucroy told the truth about how he was hurt. Lucroy said he was hurt when a suitcase fell off his hotel room bed onto his hand, leading many skeptics to ask, "Really?" "I asked him, basically, [the same thing]," said Roenicke, whose son suffered the same injury punching the bench during his freshman year in high school. Strange injuries are simply a fact of baseball, Roenicke said. He was there the day in May 2010 when Angels designated hitter Kendry Morales fractured his left ankle celebrating a game-winning grand slam. He needed two surgeries and missed a season and a half. "It doesn't surprise me," Roenicke said. "There's so many things that can happen."