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Thames (thumb) making strides during rehab

Counsell hoping to get slugger back when Brewers return home
MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- With Eric Thames two games into his rehab stint with Triple-A Colorado Springs, Brewers manager Craig Counsell is confident Thames will be back with the big league club when it returns to Milwaukee after this weekend's three-game series against the Phillies.

"Obviously, the first two days in Arizona went well," Counsell said Friday. "He's four days in. He's not going to start tonight [at Triple-A], gave him a little day off today. But I think certainly early in the homestand looks good for him to be activated."

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PHILADELPHIA -- With Eric Thames two games into his rehab stint with Triple-A Colorado Springs, Brewers manager Craig Counsell is confident Thames will be back with the big league club when it returns to Milwaukee after this weekend's three-game series against the Phillies.

"Obviously, the first two days in Arizona went well," Counsell said Friday. "He's four days in. He's not going to start tonight [at Triple-A], gave him a little day off today. But I think certainly early in the homestand looks good for him to be activated."

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Thames, who sustained a torn ligament in his left thumb in April, has gone 3-for-8, all singles, in two starts with the Sky Sox, with no walks and no strikeouts. More notably, he's started once apiece at first base and at left field -- where he has yet to appear in the Majors this season. Counsell said Thames will continue to mix in time at both spots before being activated.

"What that means for us here, I don't know yet," Counsell said. "I think while he's on rehab, getting him some exposure to the outfield is the smart thing to do."

The change in positions comes as a result of Jesus Aguilar's success in place of Thames. Since Thames went down on April 24 in Kansas City, Aguilar has assumed regular time at first base. He's hit .295 for the year and the eight home runs he clubbed in May were tied for third in the National League.

Thames broke into the league as an outfielder with the Blue Jays in 2011, and he has plenty of experience at both corner-outfield spots with more than 180 appearances in total. Counsell said earlier this week that good players will have to occasionally sit out of the lineup when Thames returns. Although they've each spent time on the DL this season, both Ryan Braun and Christian Yelich have joined Lorenzo Cain to earn regular playing time in the outfield. Thames, when he returns, gives the Brewers an option to change that.

"It's an option that we're trying to present ourselves with," Counsell said. "I don't think it'll be a regular thing. There's obviously a reason to consider some options with the way Aguilar has performed."

Woodruff to start Sunday
The Brewers hadn't named a starter for the series finale in Philadelphia until Friday, when Counsell said Brandon Woodruff was on his way to join the team later that night.

Woodruff has been up and down this season, starting six games in Triple-A and appearing eight times (three starts) in the Majors. He's posted a 6.05 ERA with 20 strikeouts and seven walks in 19 1/3 innings pitched with Milwaukee this year.

Joe Bloss is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia.

Milwaukee Brewers, Eric Thames, Brandon Woodruff