MILWAUKEE -- Hey, Casey McGehee, what's it like being back at Miller Park?"It's a little weird," the Pirates infielder said, smiling. "It's like seeing a girlfriend you broke up with who you don't necessarily hate. You don't want to spend too much time, but at the same time, it's nice to see them." McGehee, who led the Brewers in RBIs during the 2010 season before a season-long slump in 2011 prompted a December trade to Pittsburgh, returned to his former home on Friday for the first Pirates-Brewers matchup of 2012. Things sure have changed for the Brewers since McGehee left. He departed in the offseason along with Prince Fielder, Mark Kotsay and LaTroy Hawkins, all strong clubhouse presences. Craig Counsell retired. He has stayed in touch via text message with a number of players who did return, including Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks, and was asked whether, injuries aside, he has a sense of why Milwaukee has struggled this season. "I'm sure it had some sort of effect, but I haven't really delved into reasons why, and how much things have changed or anything like that," McGehee said. "It's kind of shocking, in a way, for a 96-win club to have that much turnover. I don't think you see that very often." The Brewers traded McGehee for reliever Jose Veras in a swap of arbitration-eligible players, and McGehee's homecoming actually began Thursday, when the Pirates arrived in Milwaukee on their off-day. His wife, Sarah, and their two children are on the trip, and the McGehees are hoping to reunite with some of the healthcare workers who were so kind to their son Mack over the years. Mack has cerebral palsy and is doing great, McGehee said. "We got in [Thursday] on the off-day, and I kind of had to take a little step back," McGehee said. "It was pretty nice coming back and seeing faces that were pretty familiar for a few years. A lot of people stopped by and said hello." McGehee batted .104 in May and was not in the Pirates' lineup for Friday's series opener. He's hoping the Pirates can take a step forward similar to the one McGehee saw in Milwaukee.
"Even though I got to the team a little late in the process when I was with Milwaukee, I think there's a lot of similarities between where we're at here in Pittsburgh and where Milwaukee was, even the year prior to me being there. We've got some guys here who are kind of right at that next step, the next wave of superstars."
Braun exits game with right hip strain
MILWAUKEE -- Add a strained right hip to the nagging Achilles issue that has bothered Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun.Braun returned to the lineup Friday night after taking a day to rest his right Achilles, which has ached since he slid hard into second base for his 100th career stolen base on May 1. Braun reaggravated the Achilles injury on Wednesday on another slide into second, and did the same thing again Friday night. He made what he called a "weird, awkward slide" this time in an attempt to avoid getting hurt, and in the process hurt both his right Achilles and hip. He'll be evaluated Saturday before the Brewers determine Braun's status for Game 2 of the series. "I think the danger in trying to play through an injury constantly is it's easy to reinjure it," Braun said after Friday's 8-2 loss. "Your body also compensates, so it's easy to hurt something else. I don't think it's too bad, but it doesn't feel good right now." The Brewers can't afford to lose any more players. Their Opening Day catcher, first baseman and shortstop are already on the disabled list. "We'll see how he is [Saturday]. We need to have him in the lineup," manager Ron Roenicke said. "We're banged up, and we need that bat there." Does Braun worry about exposing himself to a serious injury by playing through this relatively minor ache? "I mean, it's always a concern," Braun said. "There's always risk versus reward. But I think when you play this game, you're always playing through something. It's a matter of trying to manage it, hope that it's not too bad. Some days, I feel good, some, not so good, but obviously I always feel like I can contribute, even when I'm less than 100 percent. It's difficult to restrain myself from running, sliding, diving. When you're out there, you compete and adrenaline takes over, and it's not easy to play at 80 percent." Coaches have asked Braun to restrain himself on multiple occasions, he said. But Braun has the green light to run when he feels well enough, and he was feeling good Friday, so he took off for second base in the sixth inning with the Brewers trailing, 6-2. When the Pirates made a pitching change moments later, Braun limped to the dugout to consult with head athletic trainer Dan Wright. Braun returned to second base and remained in the game through the seventh inning. Norichika Aoki took over in left field for the eighth. "The Achilles, it gets tight on him, and from day to day it changes," Roenicke said. "It's hard knowing where we are with it. Some days he'll say, 'I feel great and I want to steal bases.' Next day he'll come out and say, 'It's tight again, I don't think I'm going to run.' "That part I don't like, because any time you're messing with that from game to game, it's not very comfortable on me to try to decide what to do with him."
Lucroy has pin inserted into fractured hand
MILWAUKEE -- Catcher Jonathan Lucroy rejoined his Brewers teammates on Friday, a day after undergoing a 30-minute procedure to insert a pin into his fractured right hand.Lucroy is already eager to get active again. "We got it out of the way, and now what we have to do is let it heal up and get on a rehab schedule," Lucroy said. "It's like last year [when he fractured his right pinkie finger], the only thing I wasn't able to do is swing with my top hand, that's it. And throw, for a little bit. Obviously, this year I'm not going to be able to throw for a little bit longer." Lucroy fractured the fifth metacarpal in his right hand. Surgeons inserted a pin that runs through the knuckle and down the pinkie finger. As soon as doctors clear him, Lucroy intends to stand in the batter's box to track pitches, will catch bullpens and will do as much lower-body exercise as possible. The Brewers estimate he'll be sidelined six weeks. "I couldn't imagine it being any longer than six," Lucroy said. He again called the past few days "frustrating," though Lucroy, who said he was hurt when his wife, Sarah, moved a suitcase in their Los Angeles hotel room and it fell on his hand, was thankful for the fans who have expressed support. Sarah received some of what her husband earlier in the week referred to as "hate mail" via Facebook, but many more fans have been positive than negative, Lucroy said. Asked if he wanted to respond to those who questioned his explanation of how he was hurt, Lucroy said, "I can't do anything about it. What am I going to do? It's over with and done with, and if they question it, I guess that's fine, that's their right. I really don't care. I have a broken hand. I'm the one who's suffering here. I'm the one that's having a hard time, no one else is besides the team."
Morgan snaps '12 RBI drought with homer
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan is finally on the board.Morgan logged his first RBI of 2012 when he homered off Pirates starter Kevin Correia in the first inning on Friday night at Miller Park to give the Brewers a 1-0 lead. It came in Morgan's 139th plate appearance this season. His drought of 138 plate appearances to start a season without an RBI was a Major League record. The previous mark belonged to White Sox outfielder Herb Adams, who went 125 plate appearances without driving in a run to begin 1950. Adams logged his first RBI that year on a bases-loaded walk on June 11. He drove in another run with a sacrifice fly later in that game. Morgan's RBI on Friday was his first since Game 5 of last year's National League Division Series, a game-winning single up the middle in the bottom of the 10th inning that sent the Brewers to the NL Championship Series and is the subject of the club's 2012 Media Guide cover.
Second baseman Rickie Weeks was scratched from Friday's lineup with an illness. Brooks Conrad started instead. A month after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery, left-hander Chris Narveson said Friday that he was nearing full range of motion and was about a week away from beginning a rehab program. Shortstop Cesar Izturis (hamstring) and first baseman Travis Ishikawa (oblique), both placed on the 15-day disabled list during the just-finished road trip, will need much more than their 15-day allotment to recover, manager Ron Roenicke said. Right-hander Jimmy Nelson was selected to play in the 2012 Florida State League All-Star Game in Port Charlotte, Fla., in June. He is 4-4 with a 2.08 ERA in 11 starts at Class A Brevard County, leads the FSL in innings (69 1/3) and ranks among the league leaders in ERA (second), strikeouts (second, 67), WHIP (fourth, 1.05) and opponent batting average (fifth, .222). Nelson was the Brewers' second-round Draft pick in 2010 but the top pick to sign; that year's first-rounder, righty Dylan Covey, opted for college after being diagnosed with diabetes.