by Mark Harris
SURPRISE, Ariz. — In every previous year of his seven-year big-league career, catcher Jonathan Lucroy went to spring training with the Milwaukee Brewers. This spring, he’s in camp with the Texas Rangers.
The Rangers acquired Lucroy from the Brewers in a trade-deadline deal last July. His new team quickly saw what kind of a hitter he is. In his 47 games with Texas last season, he hit 11 homers and drove in 31 runs.
Combined with his 13 homers with Milwaukee, he wound up with a career-high 24 homers. But his best season at the plate might remain 2014, when he had 53 doubles and finished fourth in the NL in WAR (Wins Above Replacement).
“I mean Jon’s a terrific catcher, good hitter,” Rangers’ pitcher A.J. Griffin said. “He’s a good guy to have in your lineup. He keeps the line moving pretty good for us when he’s in the batting order, so we like him back there.”
Now Lucroy gets a full season in the Rangers’ hitter-friendly home stadium, Globe Life Park.
(Video by Gabe Mercer/Cronkite News)
Then there’s his vital defensive role. In his first spring training with the Rangers, building a rapport with the Texas pitchers in a relaxed way he couldn’t when he joined the team during the season last year.
“It’s tough to make that transition midseason sometimes, especially when you’re such an influential position like a catcher,” Griffin said. “We have the luxury to get to know each other a little bit better this year.”
Rangers manager Jeff Banister thinks spring training will help him get a better sense of Lucroy.
“Continue to learn him as a player, Continue to learn our staff. That everyday relationship, so that he’s not learning on the go with everyday process,” Banister said.
“But anytime you can put a player in during the practice session and you continue practice, you learn more about them, they learn more about themselves in the context of the team.”