Right Field

Lucroy Heading to Washington . . . for SOTU

Over at Baseball Think Factory, the headline of this morning’s post read, “ESPN: Lucroy Heads to Washington.”

Naturally, that sent my mind racing, mostly centering around the thought, “No ####### Way!!!” Why on earth would any team not overseen by Billy Beane ship off a bona fide MVP candidate and face of the franchise?

For those of you just emerging from a lengthy stay in your local biosphere: Jonathan Lucroy, who is entering his age-29 season, last year posted a .301/.373/.465 slash line and posted a 6.3 fWAR. He’s one of the best pitch framers in the business. Perhaps most important of all, Lucroy’s dirt cheap, considering what he brings to the team; Milwaukee will pay him $3 million this season, $4 million in 2016, and holds a $5.25 million team option for 2017. In contrast, Yadier Molina will rake in $15 million in 2016 and Buster Posey will take home $16.5 million.

Anyway, the headline had been deliberately tweaked to make our heads spin. In fact, Lucroy won’t be receiving pitches on South Capitol Street, at least not with a curly “W” logo on his cap:

It’s not often that a ballplayer gets to attend a State of the Union address to Congress as the guest of a U.S. senator.

So when the office of Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin called with an invite to sit in on President Barack Obama’s speech next week as recognition for the All-Star’s charitable work, Lucroy accepted the opportunity.

“Huge honor,” Lucroy said in a phone interview from his home in Louisiana. “I’m going to do something not a lot of people get to do. I’m going to do something or see something that a lot of people won’t be able to watch or see.” . . . 

A fan favorite in Milwaukee, the 28-year-old Lucroy makes regular visits to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and has served as a spokesman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Brewers Community Foundation charitable activities.

Lucroy is especially active with organizations associated with the military and veterans, including the Honor Flight Network, which brings World War II veterans to Washington. Lucroy met Johnson’s chief of staff during an Honor Flight visit from Milwaukee in November.

Lucroy said causes related to veterans became especially important after his best friend from college, John Coker, was wounded when he was shot during an ambush while serving in Afghanistan.

“When I heard about that, it became personal to me,” Lucroy said.

“You walk around Arlington National Cemetery, you’d be humbled,” he said. “It’s one of those things that I take it serious. I take it personal. I want them to feel important. I want them to feel good.”

In a statement, Johnson called Lucroy “an even bigger hero off the field: He is using his baseball fame to highlight some great Wisconsin charities.”

(As an aside: I take it everyone noticed that there’s no mention in this feel-good article of Johnson’s party affiliation. Hmmm, I wonder why.)

Okay, Brewer fans, please return your jaw to its upright position.

More here.

Jason Epstein is the president of Southfive Strategies, LLC. He was a public-relations consultant for the Turkish embassy in Washington from 2002 to 2007.

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