CINCINNATI -- Brewers outfielder Gabe Kapler did not have a simple response Friday to a simple question:

Can he hit?

The answer was murky at best before the slumping Brewers engaged the Reds in a three-game series at Great American Ball Park. Kapler tore the latissimus dorsi muscle behind his right shoulder last week, but rejoined the team on Thursday in Chicago and is attempting to return to action, even if only to pinch-hit, before the regular season ends Sept. 28.

"My job is not to rule anything out," Kapler said. "To come to the ballpark daily to be prepared to continue what has been a very successful first couple of days."

But can he hit?

"I would say it is progressing," Kapler said. "Everything is progressing well."

Does he experience pain when he swings?

"It is what it is," Kapler said. "From the time that I had the injury to now, things are progressing very, very well."

But can he hit?

"Let me put it like this," Kapler said. "This is just my honest feedback. There are some things that are for me to figure out and walk through by myself. Somebody else might want to feel interested in talking about it, but I just want to keep progressing well, keep getting better and just take it one day at a time.

"It's part of a philosophy that I have as it relates to getting better quickly. What it's about for me is focusing on great things. What good things are happening? The fact that I'm swinging a few days after I came out of a game, and the fact that I'm coming to the ballpark daily and my body feels good, I feel strong and I'm confident that things are moving in the right direction quickly, those are the things I choose to focus on. Anything else that comes out of my mouth is worthless. I just want to talk about the things that are going great."

Acting Brewers manager Dale Sveum said he considered using Kapler in Thursday's game against the Cubs as a pinch-hitter. Hitting, though, was not an option, at least on Friday.

"He took [batting practice]," Sveum said. "Obviously, we hope he gets a little bit better."

Sveum, the former Red Sox third-base coach who was with Kapler in Boston, thinks Kapler can be a positive influence even if he does not play. The Brewers lured him back from a Minor League managerial stint, and Kapler has hit .301 this season with eight home runs and 38 RBIs as Milwaukee's fourth outfielder. He suffered the injury on a throw home that saved a run in an eventual 4-3 Brewers win over the Reds.

"He's always a positive, just to have in the clubhouse," Sveum said. "When [the Red Sox] got him back from Japan in '05, there were a lot of grown men with tears in their eyes when he walked in the clubhouse."