MILWAUKEE -- Rehabbing Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy will take his next big step toward the active roster on Saturday, though few will get to see it.

Lucroy is scheduled to take batting practice for the first time in the indoor batting cage below Miller Park. On the disabled list since he fractured his right hand in late May, Lucroy has been limited so far to hitting off a tee and taking "flips" from a Brewers coach. He spent the All-Star break in Milwaukee to keep his workouts on schedule.

"I feel good," he said. "It's a matter of working my way up and getting my hand strength back, getting that explosion through the ball. It's like anything else, when you haven't had that contact in a while, you have to get used to it. I think it's only a matter of time."

How much time? Lucroy is still thinking about July 20 as a possible return date, whether that means a return to the Brewers' active roster or the beginning of a Minor League rehabilitation assignment. But that is only his personal goal; the team's medical staff controls the schedule.

"There's no reason to bring him back too soon and baby him through," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We've got two catchers here now that we like. When he comes back he needs to be a contributor, not just in our lineup."

Lucroy was the Brewers' No. 2 run-producer behind Ryan Braun at the time he was injured. He subsequently underwent surgery to stabilize the fractured bone in his hand.

"I don't think I'm any more than a week away from being ready -- that's what I think," Lucroy said. "The doctor, we'll see what he said. But for me, my body, arm-wise and swing-wise, I think I'm almost there."

Thornburg to shake off rust in Brewers' bullpen

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers are about to introduce pitching prospect Tyler Thornburg to the uncertain life of a long man, in which you never know when -- or if -- you're going to pitch.

For Thornburg, this is otherwise known as life as usual.

The 23-year-old officially joined the Brewers' bullpen on Friday, one of two new faces on the active roster (infielder Jeff Bianchi is the other) for the second half. Thornburg has pitched only two games since June 9 -- a July 19 spot start for the Brewers against the Blue Jays, and a July 4 start for Triple-A Nashville at Memphis.

"I'd like to think I'm more rested than rusty," Thornburg said.

Why the long stretches between starts? Before his Brewers promotion, Thornburg missed a start because of a suspension stemming from his part in a brawl in the Double-A Southern League. And after the Brewers sent him down to Nashville, Thornburg spent time on the disabled list with a minor right-wrist injury, stemming from a stumble into a coffee table.

Thornburg made three relief appearances for rookie-level Helena after signing with the Brewers in 2010, and threw harder in those outings because he knew he'd only he working an inning or two. That may be the case again, but Thornburg said he would not vary his pitch repertoire.

Last call

• Brewers amateur scouting director Bruce Seid said the team had no new deals to announce after Friday's 4 p.m. CT deadline to sign selections from the First-Year Player Draft. The Brewers had already signed each of their first 16 picks, 18 of their top 19 picks and 24 of their top 27.

The top unsigned selection was 15th rounder Buck Farmer, who will return to Georgia Tech.

• Roenicke said right-hander Shaun Marcum played catch again Friday and "looked free," but had no new information about Marcum's return to the mound. He has not pitched since June 14 because of a stiff elbow.

• Right-hander Tim Dillard accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A Nashville and will remain in the organization. The Brewers sent him down Thursday to make room for Thornburg. To make room for Dillard in the Minors, the Brewers released reliever Victor Garate.