MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke agrees with the comparison some observers have offered for recently called-up catcher Martin Maldonado, a sensational defender with a strong arm and occasional pull power.
He's a bit like Henry Blanco, now 40, and still playing for the D-backs. Blanco played for the Brewers from 2000-01. Before that, Roenicke coached him in the Dodgers' Minor League system.
"I go way back with Henry. I saw him when he was a real good third baseman," Roenicke said.
That's true -- Blanco didn't convert to catching until 1996, after the Dodgers decided he probably would not hit enough to play third base in the big leagues. Roenicke said Blanco could have won a Gold Glove at third had he continued at that position.
Instead, he became a plus-defender behind the plate. Blanco is currently in his 15th Major League season.
"Henry had as good an arm as anybody," Roenicke said. "A little quicker release than Maldonado does, but 'Maldy' probably has a little more arm strength. They are both great blockers. Henry is a very smart guy calling a game. We'll have to see with Maldy how that goes once he gets comfortable with everything. But, yeah, there are some comparisons there."
The Brewers promoted Maldonado on May 29, after regular catcher Jonathan Lucroy broke his right hand. Entering Saturday's start against the Padres, Brewers pitchers were 6-2 with a 3.16 ERA with Maldonado behind the plate, he had thrown out two of three would-be base stealers and had batted .214 with two home runs and six RBIs in 10 games.
Maldonado delivered a big hit in Friday's win, a three-run home run. He nearly hit a second homer, only to see a long fly ball hook just foul.
"Defensively, he's very confident. That wasn't a question," Roenicke said. "We knew, based on last year, what kind of defensive player he was, and last year he had a nice offensive year [at Triple-A], in really his first year of getting 400 at-bats. I think offensively here, he's not an automatic out, as we've seen. He's not going to be a [Lucroy], but he does so well defensively that you want him out there, and whatever he gives you offensively is huge."
Ailing Ramirez picking spots to run hard
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez is playing at less than 100 percent, still slowed by a quadriceps strain. But at least he's playing.
"I wanted to play for that Cubs series [earlier in the week], but they wouldn't let me," said Ramirez, who missed four starts before returning to the lineup with two hits against the Padres on Friday. "That was smart. I can't be out for a month. We can't afford that right now."
Ramirez suffered a slight tear to his left quadriceps, just above the knee, one week ago during a June 2 win over the Pirates at Miller Park. His four missed starts meant Ramirez was limited to a lone pinch-hit at-bat in the Brewers' series against his former team, the Cubs.
Now, like catcher George Kottaras, who has been playing through a minor hamstring issue, Ramirez is picking his spots to run hard.
"I have to," he said. "I can't be busting out 100 percent. I can't do that right now. But I'm good enough to play, and that's what counts."
"I'm still a little concerned a little bit about how hard he's going to go," manager Ron Roenicke said. "But he did a nice job of controlling himself, made a real nice defensive play for us. I think it's important for him to get back. I think he's smart enough to control what he does."
Roenicke disagrees with rule book
MILWAUKEE -- If Brewers manager Ron Roenicke were Commissioner for a day, he would change the way official scorers account for hits that bounce past a diving defender.
Right-hander Shaun Marcum was burned by such a play in Friday's win over the Padres. In the top of the third inning, San Diego shortstop Evereth Cabrera hit a line drive that snuck under center fielder Carlos Gomez's glove and bounced all the way to the wall for an inside-the-park home run.
It was one of three earned runs against Marcum, whose ERA rose slightly to 3.50.
"That's a real tough play," Roenicke said. "I do know one thing, I wish they would change the scoring on it. It's absolutely ridiculous, the way we score that play. There's no way Marcum should get an earned run for that ball."
Roenicke made clear later that he was not criticizing longtime official scorer Tim O'Driscoll. Rather, he was calling for a mechanism by which a scorer is empowered to deem a run unearned, even when it does not involve an error.
"It is what it is," Marcum said. "I don't think you can charge a guy an error for hustling and giving a great effort trying to make a diving catch. It's one of those things that happens, I'm not upset at 'Go-Go' or anything like that. He's trying to make a play for me."
• Manager Ron Roenicke indicated that he would use the upcoming week of Interleague Games in American League ballparks -- the Brewers are at Kansas City and Minnesota -- to give some of his regular position players a day or two off their feet, using them instead as the designated hitter. Last year, the Brewers promoted Mat Gamel from Triple-A specifically to serve as the DH, but Roenicke said: "With our personnel and our needs right now, I think this is the way to do it."
He left the door open for a change of heart.
• Bench coach Jerry Narron coached third base on Saturday while Ed Sedar attended his father's funeral. Narron coached third for the Orioles in 1994 and for the Rangers from 1995 until he was promoted to interim manager in May 2001.