Brewers aiming for Thursday with Braun

After a good day in the batting cage on Saturday, Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun was on track to beat the earlier estimates and return to the Brewers’ lineup before the All-Star break. Thursday’s series opener in Arizona looked like a good bet.

On the disabled list since June 14 because of an inflamed nerve between his right thumb and forefinger, Braun took dry swings last week in Washington D.C., then took batting practice on the field Saturday for the first time in weeks. He was scheduled to hit in the batting cages on Sunday, on the field Monday and Tuesday, and, if those sessions go just as well, could return to the Brewers’ lineup by Thursday, then the team begins its final four-game series before the break.

Braun could be ready earlier than that, but Thursday looks like a convenient day for the Brewers to make a roster move, with young right-hander Johnny Hellweg slated to start against the Reds on Wednesday afternoon.

Braun and the Brewers have resisted setting firm timetables, so neither the player nor manager Ron Roencike would make any pronouncements on Sunday.

“I wouldn’t say [Thursday] is as soon as he could play,” Roenicke said, “but I think that’s probably a good thing to shoot for. I know he’s probably wanting to go before that, but we’ll see how it goes [Monday] and the next day.”

Braun would not play all nine innings at the start, nor would he play all four games against the D-backs.

“He’s got to get his legs under him,” Roenicke said. “If we can get him maybe back before the All-Star break and let him play in some games, and then use the break as kind of how you would recuperate in Spring Training, that would be ideal.”

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