CHC@MIL: Lucroy's solo homer opens up scoring

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy described a crash course in playing first base -- a position he manned for an inning of Monday's rout of the Pirates -- for the first time since a stint in a college summer league in 2006.

"I think I made, like, two errors or something," Lucroy said.

He was error-free on Monday night, something of a relief considering Lucroy never even considered playing first base until manager Ron Roenicke approached him about it on Saturday, the afternoon shortstop Jean Segura injured a finger during pregame fielding drills and prompted a last-minute lineup shuffle.

Lucroy borrowed a first baseman's glove from fellow catcher Martin Maldonado -- Yuniesky Betancourt has been using the same one during his own crash course -- and began taking grounders before games. The idea was to wait until a blowout game to ease Lucroy in, and that opportunity came Tuesday when the Brewers bashed five home runs.

"That way, if I screw something up, it's not a game-changer," Lucroy said. "I'm going to make some mistakes over there. A lot of that stuff is instinctual."

After so many games behind the plate, Lucroy said, the vantage point in the field was "weird." He said he would need time to learn positioning on bunts and cutoffs, become comfortable fielding grounders and lead pitchers when they cover the bag. It will take a lot more practice, he conceded.

"It's not just going over there and catching balls," Lucroy said.

Maldonado agreed.

"I think that's the toughest position," Maldonado said. "Those guys make the infielders look good. That's why a good first baseman sticks around a long time."

Aramis tests injured knee, hopes to return Friday

ARI@MIL: Aramis exits game after sliding into second

MILWAUKEE -- Aramis Ramirez is aiming for a Friday return to the Brewers' starting lineup after another good day of testing his improving left knee on the basepaths.

"Everything is going as expected," Ramirez said.

The veteran third baseman has been sidelined since spraining his left knee on April 5. He sustained a nearly identical injury in Spring Training and only missed two weeks, but he took longer this time in order to lessen the likelihood of another setback.

If he meets his goal and returns Friday night against the Cardinals, Ramirez will have missed 22 games.

The Brewers are already discussing the corresponding roster move, and could opt to send down outfielder Khris Davis to play regularly at Triple-A Nashville. Entering Tuesday, Davis only had seven at-bats in the Brewers' last 19 games.

Manager Ron Roenicke was encouraged by Ramirez's progress, and said he was scheduled to run the bases again on Wednesday morning. After that, Roenicke said, "we'll see where we are."

Ramirez will attempt to jump from the disabled list to the active roster without a Minor League rehabilitation assignment, as is his right under baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement. Roenicke was asked whether such a leap represented a risk, either to Ramirez, because he will not have a chance to test his knee, or to the club, which will have a player in the lineup who has not seen a live pitch in more than three weeks.

"I think management would always like a guy to go rehab, but a player has a right not to rehab," Roenicke said. "So you work with whatever player it is, you explain things to him, and they have the decision."

Roenicke has a plan in mind for Ramirez's workload and does not plan to play the 34-year-old all nine innings from the start. Team off-days next Monday and Wednesday will help provide a break.

Hot or not, Ramirez's bat will be a welcome return for the Brewers. The team ranks 28th of 30 Major League teams with a .497 OPS from its cleanup hitters, and is one of only two teams (Kansas City is the other) with no home runs from a four-hole hitter.

Last call

• Infielder Alex Gonzalez missed a third consecutive start as he rested a tight left hamstring, but he reported feeling better after running the bases on Tuesday afternoon.

"We'll see about [Wednesday], whether to start him or not," Roenicke said. "But I think I can use him [off the bench] today, which is good."