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Braun, Villar expected back during road trip

Special to MLB.com

ATLANTA -- If all goes well for Ryan Braun and Jonathan Villar in their rehab games this weekend, Brewers manager Craig Counsell expects them to rejoin the club during its current road trip.

Braun and Villar were slated to start their rehab stints at Class A Wisconsin on Thursday, but the Timber Rattlers' game against Kane County was rained out. Counsell said the duo will both start the first game of Friday's doubleheader.

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ATLANTA -- If all goes well for Ryan Braun and Jonathan Villar in their rehab games this weekend, Brewers manager Craig Counsell expects them to rejoin the club during its current road trip.

Braun and Villar were slated to start their rehab stints at Class A Wisconsin on Thursday, but the Timber Rattlers' game against Kane County was rained out. Counsell said the duo will both start the first game of Friday's doubleheader.

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Counsell told reporters before Friday's game against the Braves that the rainout won't affect their timetable for return.

"Villar may play a little longer than Braun, but they're kind of on tap to just spend the weekend there with the Timber Rattlers and it's all still on schedule for, if everything goes the right way, for them to rejoin the club later on the road trip," Counsell said.

Braun went on the disabled list on May 26 with a strained left calf, and Villar went down with a back injury on June 9.

Video: MIL@ARI: Villar makes a great diving play, exits game

The Brewers have played good baseball during Braun's month-long absence and have spent 34 days atop the NL Central.

Braun's injury led to Eric Sogard's callup from Triple-A Colorado Springs, and the 31-year-old has made the most of his opportunity, going into play Friday second in the Majors with a .366 batting average and leads all of baseball with a .466 on-base percentage.

Video: MIL@STL: Sogard drives in two with double in the gap

Counsell said watching Sogard's approach at the plate has benefitted his teammates.

"He's very confident hitting with two strikes," Counsell said. "He believes it doesn't matter what the count is, he's going to wait for his pitch. And I think guys watch that."

Villar's injury gave outfield prospect Lewis Brinson a chance to make his Major League debut after hitting .312 in Triple-A with six homers, 25 RBIs and seven stolen bases. The 23-year-old, who was acquired from Texas in the Jonathan Lucroy trade last August and was ranked Milwaukee's top prospect in 2017 by MLB Pipeline, hasn't seen a lot of playing time since joining the big league club.

Brinson has started six games and appeared in 11, batting just .120. He's played four games in left field and two in center field.

"This is a good problem really that we're having here, but I think we have to understand that as we play better, the opportunities for guys, they shrink because you've got guys playing well," Counsell said.

Aimee Sachs is a contributor to MLB.com based in Atlanta who covered the Brewers on Friday.

Milwaukee Brewers, Ryan Braun, Jonathan Villar