MILWAUKEE -- Brewers outfielders Ryan Braun and Norichika Aoki are expected to be back in the starting lineup on Thursday at Arizona after sitting out Wednesday afternoon's series finale against the Reds -- Braun as part of a plan to ease him back from a long stint on the disabled list and Aoki because of a stiff left elbow.
Braun, who hit the first live pitch he'd seen in precisely one month for a first-inning single in a 1-for-3 night on Tuesday, will probably start in left field on Thursday, then sit again on Friday and start at least one of the weekend games leading into the All-Star break.
"He was in earlier and feels pretty good," manager Ron Roenicke said Wednesday morning.
Aoki, who was scratched from a start in right field on Tuesday, remained sidelined a second straight day.
"A little better, but not good enough to where we felt he was comfortable to go out and play," Roenicke said. "So, he'll be available to do some things late in the game."
Ditto for Braun, Roenicke said, but neither played in Wednesday's 6-2 loss to the Reds. And with first baseman Corey Hart out for the season and third baseman Aramis Ramirez on the DL with a knee injury, every regular left out of the starting lineup hurts.
"We're thin right now," Roenicke said, "but there's a lot of good things happening, too, like Wily [Peralta] last night and Braun coming back and the first swing he takes, he hits a missile to center."