We have our first bad news of 2015, and spring training hasn't even started yet. Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy will miss four to six weeks after straining a hamstring, the team announced on Twitter.
No word on what exactly caused the strain, but the reasons probably aren't terribly important. Lucroy's agent was the one who initially told the team about the injury, but did not give an explanation. Lucroy had a second opinion that confirmed the strain on Tuesday.
The good news is that we're still nine days out from the official report date for pitchers and catchers and are still seven weeks and five days from Opening Day on April 6. That should give Lucroy ample time to recover and, indeed, the Brewers expect him to be ready for the start of the season.
However, this means Lucroy will not have the time other players do to prepare for the season and shake the rust off from a long off-season. He was also supposed to work at first base during the exhibition season in an effort to prepare him further for taking on the majority of starts at the position against left handers. That, naturally, won't happen now.
For now, the Brewers only have two other catchers on the 40-man roster: Long-standing backup Martin Maldonado and newbie Juan Centeno, who was a waiver-wire pick-up this year. Teams typically bring in several other backstops to spring training, though, and the Brewers are no different. This year, their list of non-roster invites includes four more catchers: Adam Weisenburger, Cameron Garfield, Parker Berberet and Nevin Ashley.
An injury now is a blow to the Brewers, of course, but it's better now than in June or August. Missing some of spring training might even help keep him fresher later in the season, preventing a month like last July when he hit for just a 685 OPS. That's looking at silver linings, though, and the preference is obviously for everyone to be healthy all season.
Lucroy played in a team-high 153 games last year while being named to his first All Star game and finishing fourth in NL MVP voting. He hit .301/.373/.465 with 13 homers and a league-high 53 doubles. Lucroy is also among the best defensive catchers in the league.