Throughout the day Monday, Lucroy kept quiet and reported to Dodger Stadium to take some swings. He said it became clear that he couldn't play because he could not properly grip the bat.
"I tried to 'wear it' today, to see if I could swing with it," a despondent Lucroy said. "I didn't want to say anything because I don't like not playing. I want to play. But I went down and took some swings and it didn't feel good, so I had to spill it."
He spilled it to Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, just as bench coach Jerry Narron was preparing to post a starting lineup in the clubhouse. It was supposed to be a good-news day, because third baseman Aramis Ramirez returned to action after missing two games with a bruised left elbow.
Roenicke chased down Narron and told him to hold the lineup. Moments later, Narron informed George Kottaras to prepare to catch.
"It hurts our team a lot
," Roenicke said of Lucroy's loss. "But feel really bad for him, too. He's having some kind of incredible year so far. He feels really bad, and I feel bad for him."
Lucroy, 26 on June 13, signed a five-year contract extension in Spring Training and responded by batting .345 with five home runs and 30 RBIs in his first 43 regular-season games.
He was the Brewers' No. 2 run-producer behind Ryan Braun, and baseball's best hitter so far with runners in scoring position at .514 (18-for-35), including .600 (12-for-20) with runners in scoring position and two outs. He had jumped from eighth to fifth in the Brewers' batting order, even hitting fourth in two games.
He also handled four of the Brewers' five starting pitchers.
"I think he was one of the guys we were looking to," said right-hander Shaun Marcum, who paired with George Kottaras in Monday's 3-2 win over the Dodgers. "His leadership skills have definitely been huge for us this year. He's kind of taken control back there, and that's something you look for. He's definitely going to be missed."
Maldonado will start Tuesday with fellow Triple-A callup Mike Fiers, and Maldonado could see more playing time in the days ahead because Kottaras is dealing with a minor hamstring issue.
"Somebody else has to step out behind the plate," Ramirez said. "Of course we're going to miss 'Luc.' He was one of the hottest hitters in the game ... and you're going to miss that. But somebody has to step up and do that job."
Lucroy's setback comes amid the Brewers' brutal month of May, which began with left-hander Chris Narveson undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery on May 1 and first baseman Mat Gamel suffering a season-ending knee injury that same night. Outfielder Carlos Gomez, shortstop Alex Gonzalez, pitcher Marco Estrada, Izturis and first baseman Travis Ishikawa all joined Gamel on the DL in May, with Gonzalez lost for the year.
Of that group, only Gomez is currently active.
"We're not doing things differently. We're not working out differently," Kottaras said. "Stuff just happens."