Brewers catcher embracing rebuild and providing veteran leadership to young team
By Mike Bauman
SAN DIEGO -- Jonathan Lucroy has shed the misgivings about being part of a rebuild and simply played at an All-Star level.
On the flip side of his possibilities, the incessant trade rumors that have him going from the Brewers to somewhere, anywhere, everywhere, those don't get to him, either.
Lucroy is representing the National League in the All-Star Game presented by MasterCard (tonight at 7:30 ET on FOX) for the second time. He's hitting .304/.361/.491. With 11 home runs, he is headed for a career high. He is throwing out 39 percent of would-be base stealers. His work with the young pitchers on the rebuilding Brewers sets a standard for diligence.
This is who Lucroy is. There is no room for doubt about the club's future. There is simply the competition, the need to be as good as he can possibly regardless of outside circumstances.
"I'd be on board no matter what," Lucroy said. "No matter what state the team or the organization was in. Competitively, I'm always going to fight and play hard, it doesn't matter what our record is. It doesn't matter to me who is in our lineup, who we're playing, all that stuff. I'm still going to do what I can to play hard and succeed.
"I think it would be very unprofessional and shameful if a player doesn't play up to his ability no matter what state the team is in. I don't even worry about that stuff anymore. I'm more worried about playing and competing."
It is much the same thing with the trade speculation.
"I had a long offseason going through all that," Lucroy said. "First time going through it, I didn't really know how to handle it. Now having gone through that, in Spring Training, wondering what is going to happen, I just got some clarity about it. Now I'm, 'You know what, I'm just going to go out and play and not worry about that stuff.' It's helped out a lot, keeping that mindset of not letting it bother you, not letting it get to you."
Now, Lucroy finds mentoring the young Brewers to be fulfilling, not to mention being the right thing to do.
"It's important," Lucroy said. "I had one of the best guys ever as a mentor in 2010 and it was Trevor Hoffman. He was one of the best. We were on a losing team. He took blame for us getting off to a rough start because he didn't finish games out. He said that. Of course it wasn't his fault, but that's the kind of guy he was.
"Just looking at what his attitude was and the way he went about his business, even though he was 38 and we were on a losing club, he still went about each day with the teaching aspect, the leadership aspect. I'm trying to be like that. I'll never be able to do that because he's a really special guy, but he really taught me a lot."
It turns out that the right thing to do is also the thing that works.
"I've seen it before," Lucroy said. "Whenever guys play for the team, they play better themselves. But whenever you play selfish, typically, you go down. It's pretty amazing. I've seen guys who are unselfish really play well. And I've seen guys who are selfish not play well. It works."
There may be some uncertainty going on around him but Lucroy is concerning himself with what he can control, which is first and foremost a big league effort level.
"I feel really good," he said. "I'm happy with my performance. I feel like there are some places I can improve. Striking out too much, in my opinion, but those strikeout numbers come with more power, typically. Just keep battling, try to stay healthy, fight for it every day. I guess I'm satisfied, not completely 100 percent satisfied, but very proud to be here."
Lucroy fully deserves to be here, with a combination of All-Star performance level and a thoroughly admirable approach.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.