By Jim Owczarski Sports Editor Published Sep 23, 2014 at 1:03 PM Photography: David Bernacchi is catching up with Milwaukee Brewers players in this occasional series called "5 questions for ..." Sometimes we'll talk baseball, sometimes we won't, but regardless you'll get new insight into some of your favorite players.

Brewers starting catcher Jonathan Lucroy is in the midst of a Most Valuable Player campaign, and in an effort to keep his bat in the lineup, manager Ron Roenicke has sometimes moved him to first base. Roenicke has been able to do that, largely because of the trust he and the pitching staff have in fourth-year backup Martin Maldonado.

He’s soft spoken, but has proven to carry a big stick when needed.

We caught up with the man affectionately known as "Maldy" in the clubhouse for this installment of "Five questions with …" You’ve got a pretty unique-looking set of equipment, what with the gold paint on your mask, the knee and shin guards – is there any part of your gameday get-up that you have to have to feel ready to play?

Martin Maldonado: No … everybody’s got something different; stuff to play in. I don’t feel like I have anything, nothing specific.

OMC: You’ve had a strange year, considering that you’ve pitched in an official major league game and literally hit the cover off a baseball.

MM: That’s something everybody’s dreaming to (do), to have something possibly to go back and look on when you end your career.

OMC: Were you able to get your hands on that ball?

MM: I have it. It’s in my home already. I got a case for it.

OMC: You’re the one who’s often calling pitches – what it was like for Ron Roenicke to hand you the ball on the mound against St. Louis back in April?

MM: I didn’t save anything (from that) – I just got the ball because they gave it to me. So, that was a different day. That was one thing that you've got to go out there. Every day you want to do something positive.

OMC: The seven guys who have started for you have put out nearly 100 quality starts, and at times, each has been really good. What’s set them apart from maybe staffs you’ve caught in the past?

MM: I think they know what they have to do out there, to keep them in a ballgame. They talk with each other, they learn from each other. They help each other every day. When somebody’s throwing a bullpen, you see all the guys out there watching whoever’s throwing the bullpen.

Winning teams, that’s what they have. They have, always, good chemistry. They make everybody feel like they’re part of the team. It doesn’t matter if you’re a pitcher, even the position players feel like that.

Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.

A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.

To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.

Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining

In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.

Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.