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Aramis to test progress in two Class A starts

MILWAUKEE -- Hank the Dog isn't the only Milwaukee Brewer heading north to the team's Class A affiliate this weekend.

Third baseman Aramis Ramirez plans to finish his rehabilitation from a strained left hamstring by playing two games with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, who play their home games about an hour north of Milwaukee. Ramirez will play Sunday and Monday, weather permitting, before the Brewers consider adding him back to the active roster on Tuesday against the Twins at Miller Park or Wednesday in Minneapolis.

Is he feeling ready?

"I won't know that until Sunday when I play in the game," Ramirez said. "Practicing is one thing, but when you play the game, it's different. After Sunday, I'll have a better idea, but I expect everything to go well."

Ramirez took full batting practice on Friday while manager Ron Roenicke and Brewers coaches began mulling how to work Ramirez back into the starting lineup when he was ready. All but three of his Brewers starts over the past three seasons have been as the cleanup hitter, but with Carlos Gomez filling that role ably at the moment and Milwaukee's offense humming along -- the Brewers entered Friday with at least 10 hits in eight straight games -- Roenicke said Ramirez would "not necessarily" return immediately to his usual slot.

"We talked about it today, and trying to figure out where all the pieces fit is going to be interesting," Roenicke said. "As long as we're swinging like we are, we'll just let it ride out. I'm hoping they don't quiet down, but if things quiet down a little bit, then we'll slot people differently."

Roenicke said he had already discussed with Ramirez the possibility of hitting in a position other than cleanup and that "he's fine with it."

Ramirez will probably play only part of Sunday's game before extending on Monday. And per tradition, he will treat the Timber Rattlers to dinner.

"I have no choice," Ramirez said with a chuckle. "They're going to eat well for two days."

Will he impart some advice to the young Brewers farmhands?

"If they come over, yeah," Ramirez said. "I don't know anybody. I don't even know who I'm going to see down there. I don't even know the coaches. If they come over and ask me a question, I'll be willing to help them."

Hank, the stray pup who wandered into Brewers Spring Training camp in February and ultimately found a permanent home in Milwaukee, will appear before the Timber Rattlers' game on Sunday.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy.
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