Brewers slugger Ryan Braun targets Sunday return from DL

CHICAGO -- Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun could return as early as Sunday from a left calf strain.

Manager Craig Counsell made the announcement Friday before Milwaukee's series opener at Wrigley Field against the Cubs.

Braun has been on the disabled list retroactive to May 11. In 27 games, he has seven homers and 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 of 11 games.

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