Yelich (right oblique) hoping to return Sunday
NEW YORK -- After a "more aggressive" round of hitting in the visitors' batting cage at Citi Field early Friday afternoon, Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich expressed optimism about escaping the 10-day disabled list on Sunday, the first day he's eligible to return from a right oblique injury.
That's weather permitting, of course. The forecast for Sunday's series finale between the Brewers and Mets on Jackie Robinson Day is not looking as promising as Yelich's health.
"I'm improving every day," said Yelich, who will take batting practice with the rest of the team on Saturday. "I think we're back on track for when my little stint is up."
Cautioned Brewers manager Craig Counsell: "We're making progress. We're shooting for as fast as we can. I would say it's possible for Sunday, but I don't think we're 'for sure' yet on Sunday."
Yelich also played catch Friday, but that wasn't the concern. He was hurt swinging the bat, and the decision last week to abandon hopes of avoiding the DL came after a batting-cage session similar to Friday's.
This time, he passed the test.
"We're doing everything that we're supposed to do," he said. "I'm more concerned with the hitting. Throwing is more just maintenance, keeping the feel. Hitting was the biggest obstacle to begin with, so that was the biggest concern.
"[Friday's cage session] was really encouraging. Hopefully I continue to feel well throughout the day today and [Saturday] and keep progressing to where I need to be."
• Catcher Manny Pina remained on the bench because of calf tightness, but declared himself available in an emergency and said he would test his legs in running drills on Saturday before the Brewers make a decision about returning him to the starting lineup.
"I feel much better," Pina said. "The running is the biggest thing. The squat, blocking, and reaction to throw to second base -- everything is fine. Just [hurts] when I start running hard."
• Lorenzo Cain returned to action on his 32nd birthday after missing two games with a left quadriceps strain. Cain became the first player 32 or older to start a game in center field for the Brewers in six years, since Nyjer Morgan in 2012.
• Friday the 13th was a fitting day for No. 13 Brewers prospect Adrian Houser to return to the mound for Double-A Biloxi. Friday's start against the Mississippi Braves marked Houser's first action since he was optioned back to the Minors amid a flurry of roster moves on the Brewers' last homestand.