A rash of injuries gave the Brewers' Opening Day roster a much different look, but things could be returning to normal in the very near future.
Of the four Brewers currently on the disabled list, catcher Jonathan Lucroy is the closest to returning to action. Currently on a rehab assignment with Class AA Huntsville, Lucroy caught seven innings Friday in the Stars' 5-4 loss to Jacksonville.
His broken right pinkie finger isn't causing much discomfort but Lucroy still needs to get back in the swing of things, especially at the plate. In two games with Huntsville, Lucroy is hitting .167 with three walks. He recorded his first hit Friday, finishing with a double and two RBI.
"There's still some timing issues with his hitting there but he's coming along good," Manager Ron Roenicke said Saturday as the Brewers prepared to face the Cubs.
Lucroy's return will force Roenicke to make a difficult decision between current catchers Wil Nieves and George Kottaras. Both have performed well behind the plate and adequately with bat-in-hand.
Neither player has minor league options remaining. The decision, Roenicke said, will come down to what the team needs most, offense or defense, when the time comes to make a choice.
"It's all about the right fit," Roenicke said. "Sometimes, it's an easy decision. In this case it's going to be tough. I'm not looking forward to that day."
Reliever Takashi Saito is not on the disabled list but has been unavailable the last few days while he deals with tightness in his right hamstring. He threw a bullpen session Saturday afternoon but Roenicke hadn't yet heard a report.
Saito hasn't worked since Monday, when he gave up two home runs in the 2-1 Opening Day loss to Atlanta. The team didn't think that Saito's issue would require a trip to the disabled list but with the bullpen getting a lot of work during the homestand, the Brewers might need some help before heading to Pittsburgh, Washington and Philadelphia next week.
"If it's still bothering him, we're going to have to talk about some things," Roenicke said.
In other injury news:
Left-hander Manny Parra made his first rehabilitation appearance Saturday afternoon with Class A Wisconsin. Parra, sidelined since mid-March with a sore back, pitched two scoreless innings for the Timber Rattlers, allowing no hits and striking out four while throwing 16 of his 22 pitches for strikes. He will head to Class AAA Nashville this week to get some more work.
Corey Hart worked out before the game Friday against the Cubs. Roenicke said it was a "hard workout," but Hart looked "really good."
"He's close," Roenicke said.
At Class A Brevard County, reliever LaTroy Hawkins pitched two scoreless innings Friday, allowing two hits and striking out four, in his first rehab outing.
Last but not least (and probably of most interest in Brewers Nation), right-hander Zack Greinke threw another bullpen session Saturday and from those who watched, it went very well.
Greinke incorporated more breaking balls into the session and didn't report any problems afterward. He's feeling good enough, Roenicke said, that he was hoping to get back in the batting cage to start taking a few swings.
"He threw the ball really good," Roenicke said. "He feels great."