MILWAUKEE -- Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy could be cleared for hitting before the end of this week, and has a tentative -- very
tentative, he cautioned -- date in mind for returning to the Major League lineup.
That date is July 20, when the Brewers begin a three-game series at Cincinnati. But the timetable remains very flexible, and Lucroy has multiple hurdles to clear before his name appears in a Milwaukee lineup.
Lucroy is expected to undergo another X-ray this week of the right hand he fractured in late May, and must be fully healed before medical officials let him pick up a bat.
Lucroy would then have to progress from a tee to soft toss to regular batting practice before a Minor League rehabilitation assignment. Only after all of those steps would the Brewers consider activating him from the DL.
"My hand strength is feeling pretty good," Lucroy said. "Hopefully we can continue to get stronger. We're over the hump now; we just have to wait."
Lucroy had been a bona fide All-Star Game candidate and the Brewers' No. 2 run producer before he was injured, trailing just Ryan Braun in RBIs. Martin Maldonado and George Kottaras have shared catching duties since Lucroy went down.
The Brewers will have to make a decision on their catching corps when Lucroy is healthy, but that call is still weeks away.