MINNEAPOLIS -- Martin Maldonado has only played 19 Major League games in his young career. But the 25-year-old catcher has already discovered a knack for clutch hits.
The Brewers knew they had a sure-handed backstop when they called Maldonado up on May 29, after Jonathan Lucroy broke his right hand. But Maldonado's hitting -- particularly in timely situations -- has been a revelation. He entered Friday's game with four home runs in 17 games. Three of the homers were of the go-ahead variety, while the fourth pulled Milwaukee to within a run of Pittsburgh on June 3.
"When a guy comes to the big leagues, you don't know what's going to happen," manager Ron Roenicke said. "He had a very good year offensively last year in Triple-A, which was really his first full season playing every day. He's fabulous defensively. He's got some huge hits in some key moments for us.
"He's very confident, and he's fun. The comments that he makes during the game -- he's relaxed and he can think, and actually make comments that mean a lot to what's going on in the game."
The latest example came in the ninth inning of Friday's 5-3 victory. Maldonado crushed a Matt Capps pitch for a two-run homer, putting the Brewers ahead for good.
"He's been huge in key situations," pitcher Yovani Gallardo said. "Whether it be driving a run in or just -- he's selective with pitches. With huge situations where we need a big hit, he's come through."
Maldonado's arm has also discouraged would be basestealers. Though opponents entered Saturday 4-for-6 against him in stolen-base attempts, the fact that runners have only tried six times in his 12 starts indicates how well they respect his throwing.
"Now we just need to get him to play good defense," Roenicke said sarcastically.
Roenicke sticking with slumping Weeks
MINNEAPOLIS -- Ron Roenicke continues to put Rickie Weeks in his starting lineup, simply because it's the only way the Milwaukee manager believes he can help break Weeks' season-long slump.
Weeks was hitting just .162 with 76 strikeouts in 60 games prior to Saturday's game, which he started at second base for the Brewers. He went 0-for-3 as Milwaukee's designated hitter in the series opener against the Twins on Friday.
Though Weeks may not appear visibly shaken by his struggles, Roenicke said it's simply a reflection of the 29-year-old's professionalism.
"It bothers him," Roenicke said. "It bothers everybody. He's just a grinder. He's very professional about what he does. He tries to go through the same routines. He's just not an emotional guy like you can read on so many different faces."
Weeks is only a season removed from his first All-Star campaign, when he hit .269 with 20 homers, 26 doubles and 49 RBIs in only 118 games. Despite this year's difficulties, he's still drawing his share of walks. Weeks entered Saturday's game with a .302 on-base percentage, nearly double his batting average.
"But it has to bother people," Roenicke said. "You can't just go through things, as good as a player as he was -- an All-Star last year -- and have him play like this and say everything's fine. He knows where he is and what's going on. He's working his tail off trying to get back to it."
Three Brewers start Triple-A rehab assignments
MINNEAPOLIS -- Three Brewers began rehab assignments with Triple-A Nashville on Saturday, including starting pitcher Marco Estrada.
Joining Estrada were infielders Travis Ishikawa and Cesar Izturis. Izturis was originally scheduled to begin his stint on Friday, but a rainout pushed him back a day.
"It changes when they're coming back, but that's all right," manager Ron Roenicke said. "We kind of rearranged that a little bit. We're also going to see how they're doing, and whether they need more than what we had planned."
Estrada was 0-3 with a 4.50 ERA before being placed on the disabled list on May 24 with a right quadriceps strain. Roenicke said the team plans on two rehab starts before he returns to the Major League rotation, but adjustments will be made if necessary.
Ishikawa and Izturis may re-join the Brewers for their series against the White Sox in Chicago that begins on June 22.
"We kind of had it mapped out," Roenicke said. "But those individuals know that if they need more games, they need to do that."
Jordan Garretson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.