PHOENIX -- While Brewers players underwent their annual physical exams Saturday, Brewers officials expressed continued optimism for three important players returning from injury-plagued seasons: right fielder Ryan Braun and relievers Jim Henderson and Tyler Thornburg.
Braun underwent a surgical procedure in October to relieve an inflamed nerve in his right hand. Former closer Henderson (shoulder) and April star Thornburg (elbow) rehabbed without surgery. All three should be close to full participants when formal workouts get underway next week.
Of Braun, assistant GM Gord Ash said: "The only instruction from the medical staff was just to eliminate any extra hitting. There's no restriction on the regular routine. Just minimize extra hitting."
"I talked to [agent] Nez [Balelo] the other day and he was saying how Ryan was feeling great," Brewers GM Doug Melvin said.
The Brewers have planned all along for Braun to be the Opening Day right fielder, but Henderson and Thornburg's status has been murkier. All winter, the Brewers planned as if neither reliever would be ready for Opening Day.
Now that it appears either or both could be bullpen options from the start, "it makes a much better picture," Ash said.
"I wouldn't use the word 'restricted.' I would [say] we'll be protective," Ash said when asked about the two pitchers. "They're not going to necessarily march out there on what would be a regular basis. They might get an extra day off here and there. All the reports have been very good so far."
Ash added some words of caution: "It's early. They haven't faced hitters. Their bullpens have been good."
Some other notes from Saturday media sessions with Melvin, Ash and manager Ron Roenicke:
• The Brewers don't expect any late arrivals in camp this year, in part because Spring Training itself is so late. That allowed players from out of the country more time to get their paperwork in order.
• Pitching prospect Johnny Hellweg, who underwent Tommy John surgery last April, should be game-ready by the end of camp, but the Brewers are plotting a cautious approach. Hellweg could remain in extended spring training before an assignment to warm-weather Class A Advanced Brevard County.
• The Brewers signed infielder Donnie Murphy to a Minor League contract Friday to provide some depth at Triple-A Colorado Springs.
"He's a guy that our analytics people have been high on," Ash said. "You want to add as many weapons there in Colorado, offensively, as you can, so he fits into that category."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.