With a final X-ray examination out of the way, Milwaukee Brewers centerfielder Carlos Gomez will begin a rehabilitation assignment Saturday with the Class A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

Gomez has been on the disabled list since July 21 with a fractured left clavicle, which he had repaired surgically, and now appears to be less than a week away from returning to the Brewers.

"?'Gomey' is ready," manager Ron Roenicke said Friday. "Right now we've just got him going to Appleton. It's not so important the level he's at; we just need him to play. He'll start with 4-5 innings and then try to progress up."

Gomez has been fielding and taking early batting practice lately with no restrictions, and said his latest round in the cage earlier Friday was the most reassuring yet.

"I've been hitting the ball all over in BP, and I'm not thinking about it through the swing. Nothing's bothering me," he said. "Today I hit a couple bombs. Ron was mad. He tells me to hit line drives and I said no, I want to test it. I feel like I'm strong enough.

"To hit a home run, you have to swing hard. I hit a home run today to straightaway center. That felt really good."

Gomez, who broke his collarbone making one of his trademark circus catches in Arizona shortly after the all-star break, said he also took a hard hit into the wall Friday while taking fly balls and experienced no pain.

Being confident in the shoulder obviously is a huge deal for Gomez. For a guy who plays with reckless abandon and also prefers to slide head-first on the bases in certain situations, he has to know he's fully healthy in order to take the final step in his comeback.

"Right now, I'm still a little scared to do 100% running, throwing," he said. "I don't feel nothing, but I have to wait for the X-rays. When the X-rays show everything is good, then I will (go 100%)."

Gomez said after Friday's 5-2 win over the Chicago Cubs he expected to play four games with Wisconsin before returning to the Brewers.

The Brewers have done fine without Gomez and the injured Rickie Weeks, stretching their lead to 9½ games in the National League Central in their absence.

Still, the players will be welcomed back with open arms once they're cleared. Jerry Hairston Jr. has done an admirable job filling in for both, but he doesn't offer the range and arm of Gomez in center nor the offense and power of Weeks.

It would stand to reason Gomez would reassume his spot in the center-field platoon with Nyjer Morgan - playing against left-handed starters - upon his return. Hairston could then slide into a more permanent role at second until Weeks' return.

Roenicke said Gomez might even be ready to rejoin the Brewers before Sept. 1, which is the date teams can expand their rosters for the final month of the regular season.