MILWAUKEE -- Catcher Jonathan Lucroy was back on the active roster and in the starting lineup on Thursday after spending nearly two months on the disabled list, and was asked on his first day back whether he felt like he was too late.
Lucroy's return came on the heels of an 0-6 road trip that left the Brewers 13 1/2 games out of first place in the National League Central, and amid indications that a Zack Greinke trade was imminent.
"I feel like I missed out on a lot, I do feel that way," Lucroy said. "I don't think I'm too late, because obviously with baseball, you don't know what can happen. I'm forever optimistic and I always believe in a positive outcome. That's what I'm going to believe and think."
Lucroy batted seventh and played in his first Major League game since May 27. He went on the DL after he broke a bone in his right hand. Lucroy said he was hurt in his hotel room in Los Angeles when a suitcase fell on his hand.
His return forced the Brewers to choose between the more experienced George Kottaras versus the more effective Martin Maldonado. They chose Maldonado, opting to designate Kottaras for assignment in a move that could end his three-year tenure with the team.
General manager Doug Melvin said he was attempting to find a trade to keep Kottaras in the Majors.
Manager Ron Roenicke said of the decision to keep Maldonado, "It comes down to the way he's playing. I think it would be really tough to send down 'Maldy.' He's great defensively. The offensive stuff, he's done outstanding."
Maldonado entered Thursday batting .275 with five home runs and 19 RBIs in 49 games. Kottaras, who served as Randy Wolf's personal catcher for much of the past three years, batted .209 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 58 games.
"Really difficult on me and the rest of the staff making the decision with George -- George is a Major League catcher," Roenicke said. "He's certainly as good or better than a lot of backup catchers in the big leagues."
Maldonado will handle Wolf's next start, Roenicke said. Lucroy and Wolf have never meshed.
On Thursday, Lucroy handled right-hander Yovani Gallardo.
"I'm pretty excited to get back into it and contribute, help this team win a little bit," he said. "Hopefully we can get things turned around and get some things moving forward. I'm going to get back out there and have some fun."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.