MILWAUKEE -- When a player sees his time on the field decrease, it often leads to a similar decrease in production, with fewer at-bats to stay sharp.Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado has been the exception to that rule the last month. With Jonathan Lucroy out with a broken hand, Maldonado started 38 games behind the plate and appeared in 11 more from May 29-July 25. He batted .275 with 19 RBIs and five home runs in that stretch, providing manager Ron Roenicke and the Brewers with a pleasant surprise. Since Lucroy's return on July 26, Maldonado has started just eight games. His ability to hit remains intact, though, as he entered Saturday batting .355 (11-for-31) with seven extra-base hits as the backup catcher. "I'm really happy with him," Roenicke said. "Limited his everyday playing, and he's still swinging the bat and having good at-bats. ... He's been impressive." Lucroy has made 13 starts since coming back, and he is batting .319 with six home runs and 35 RBIs for the season. The combination of the two catchers provides Milwaukee with a luxury Roenicke said most teams don't have. "If your starter goes down, you look at who you have to replace him with, and it's usually hard to find a guy that you want out there every day," Roenicke said. "If something happens to [Lucory], we got a guy that can go out there and play every day." While that's nice for Roenicke, it also makes life easier for Milwaukee's front office. "If you look at it, we have two of the best young catchers in the game today," general manager Doug Melvin said on Friday. "Both guys are  years old, and that's a position I don't think we have to look at. Catcher's always been a tough position to fill."
Clicking at the plate, Weeks gets rare breather
MILWAUKEE -- Rickie Weeks isn't much for off-days, but Brewers manager Ron Roenicke gave him just that on Saturday against the Phillies.It marked the first time Weeks was out of the starting lineup since June 26, when things were going much differently for the 29-year-old second baseman. At the time, Weeks' average was at .184, and he was batting in the bottom half of the order. Recently, though, Weeks has turned his offensive numbers around. He entered Saturday with a .221 average and hit second or third in each of the last six games. A 4-for-4 performance against the Phillies on July 25 put his average over .200, where it's stayed since, as he's gone 28-for-80 (.350) with 11 RBIs and four home runs in his last 22 games. It's taken months of hard work and time in the cages for Weeks to hit the way he wants to, and Roenicke said he deserved a day to rest. "He's really doing a good job now," Roenicke said. "He's doing what he's always done. I know after the start, I know it was hard. It's nice when you see a guy working the way he did and be able to come back and hit it again." Other than when he played seven games for the Brewers in 2003, Weeks' lowest single-season average came in 2008, when he batted .234 in 129 contests. With roughly 40 more games to surpass that number, Weeks said the work is not done, even though the struggles of the first half of the season are behind him. "The way I am, the guys here -- not just me -- I think we take pride in what we do," Weeks, who struck out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning of Saturday's 4-3 loss. "Regardless of what happened in the past or what's going to happen, I think people take pride in working hard and trying to get better and better."
Milwaukee pitching entered Saturday leading the Majors in strikeouts with 1,002. The Brewers are on pace to fan 1,376 batters this year, which would break the previous franchise record of 1,258 set in 2010. The Brewers have a day off on Thursday after a three-game series with the Cubs. They follow that up with 20 straight games, and manager Ron Roenicke said that might mean more breaks, such as the one Rickie Weeks received Saturday, for the players who take the field every day. "I need to think about that a little bit more, try to make sure the guys are good," Roenicke said. "They still feel fine." Roenicke was disappointed to hear that former Brewers infielder Cesar Izturis was designated for assignment by the Nationals on Friday. Washington claimed Izturis off waivers on Aug. 6 after he played in 57 games for Milwaukee this season. Nationals manager Davey Johnson said if Izturis wasn't claimed by a different team in 48 hours, they likely would bring him back to the Major Leagues for September call-ups. "It bums me out because [general manager Doug Melvin's] idea was to let him go because he was going to a contender," Roenicke said. "So that bothers me."
Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.