Heyward, Braun both near comebacks

CHICAGO — Outfielder Jason Heyward is ready to return the Chicago Cubs’ lineup.

Heyward expects to play Saturday against the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers after being sidelined for two weeks because of a sore knuckle on his right hand.

He was hurt May 5 against the New York Yankees and placed on the 10-day disabled list three days later. Heyward is hitting .253 with three homers and 17 RBIs.

With Heyward coming back, manager Joe Maddon acknowledged the Cubs have a “very tough” decision to make. Do they send surging rookie Ian Happ back to the minors or someone else?

Happ, the No. 9 overall draft pick in 2015, was 6 for 17 with two homers and four RBIs entering Friday’s game. He was called up from Triple-A Iowa on May 13.

Braun almost ready for Brewers

Meanwhile, Milwaukee slugger Ryan Braun could return as early as Sunday from a left calf strain.

Manager Craig Counsell made the announcement Friday before the Brewers’ series opener at Wrigley Field against the Cubs.

Braun has been on disabled list retroactive to May 11. In 27 games, he has seven homers, 18 RBIs and is batting .287.

Braun, a six-time All Star and 2011 National League MVP, has been taking batting practice and throwing. Counsell says Braun has been “making progress” and “won’t say it’s going to be for sure on Sunday yet, but it will be close.”

Slugger Eric Thames was back in the Brewers’ starting lineup at first base on Friday after missing three games in San Diego with strep throat. He pinch hit on Thursday, when the Brewers won their ninth game in 11.

Thames has 13 homers, 25 RBIs and is batting .313.

–Associated Press

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