ST. LOUIS -- Brewers officials hope Jerry Hairston Jr.'s nagging neck injury only sidelines him a day or two. He's been a useful addition since a July 30 trade brought Hairston from Washington, and a scenario exists in which he could be a good fit with the club in 2012.

Hairston, a free agent after this season, has helped the Brewers fill gaps left by injured center fielder Carlos Gomez and second baseman Rickie Weeks. Gomez returned from the disabled list last week, essentially making Hairston the club's regular second baseman while Weeks works back from a left ankle injury.

He's enjoyed his time with the Brewers and would be open to returning.

"It feels like I've been here all year," Hairston said.

He leaves offseason business to agent Casey Close, but made it clear the Brewers would be on his list this winter. Milwaukee's primary utility man in the past four seasons has been Craig Counsell, who turned 41 last month and has made no promises about his plans for 2012.

Hairston, like Counsell, would cover the Brewers all over the infield, and Hairston has proven a capable outfielder as well. He is batting .275 with the Brewers, including .323 (21-for-65) over his last 20 games. He has earned about $2 million plus bonuses in each of the past three seasons.

The more immediate issue is getting Hairston healthy. He has received treatment for stiffness on the left side of his neck since the Brewers' last homestand, and the discomfort has now spread to his shoulder. It forced Hairston to exit Monday's game in the fourth inning. Counsell started at second base Tuesday night, and would have played anyway. He entered the game 14-for-29 against St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse.

"We need Jerry," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Hopefully it will just be a game. It could be a couple."

Weeks close to returning in limited capacity

ST. LOUIS -- The Brewers are closer to activating second baseman Rickie Weeks from the disabled list after the injured All-Star had a good day of running the Busch Stadium outfield on Monday, manager Ron Roenicke said.

Roenicke indicated that Weeks could be active to pinch-hit as early as this weekend, when the Brewers host the Phillies in a four-game series at Miller Park. Weeks has been on the DL since July 28, after he severely sprained his left ankle legging out an infield hit against the Cubs.

"If we activate him, it's not activating him so he can play second base," Roenicke said. "It's activating him so he can bat, and if we get in a game where we're up a lot or down a lot, maybe we can put him at second base for a couple innings. Something to ease him in."

Weeks is not bothered by the ankle in the batter's box, but has yet to run the bases. He ran patterns in the outfield on Monday, Roenicke said, and appeared to have back the "burst" that had been missing in previous workouts.

"It was a really good day for him," Roenicke said. "Visually, I could see that he had improved on some different things. ... He didn't have that little pause, that little hesitation, that he has had."

It will be some time before Weeks is ready to play the field -- a week to 10 days at least. The hope remains that Weeks will be back in the Brewers' starting lineup before a potential postseason series.

There's no downside to activating Weeks before he's at full strength because rosters have expanded to 40 players. The Brewers have been patient so far because they do not want Weeks to risk a setback.

"He's been good," Roenicke said. "He's not coming to me and saying, 'Hey, when am I going to be active?' He's not there yet, and he knows that."

Last call

• Brewers manager Ron Roenicke is not totally surprised to see Taylor Green get off to a 6-for-12 start in the big leagues. Green was locked in at the plate when he arrived from Triple-A Nashville, where he batted .336 with a .413 on-base percentage. The test, Roenicke said, is whether Green can stay hot while starting occasionally in place of regular third baseman Casey McGehee.

"Whenever you're in the Minor Leagues hitting, and you get called up to the big leagues, for a few weeks you're pretty good because you're still fresh and [have] plenty of at-bats," Roenicke said. "As the season wears on, it becomes more difficult. Then you can tell whether a guy is suited for that job."

Roenicke promised to start Green at third base when matchups dictate the move but said again that McGehee would remain the regular there.

• The Brewers' team store opened at the crack of dawn Tuesday with new gold-colored merchandise. The club is encouraging fans to "Go Gold" for Saturday's game against the Phillies, a take on the Giants' "Orange Fridays" at AT&T Park.

• Reliever Tim Dillard was excited for the opportunity to finish strong with the Brewers. He rejoined the club as the only additional callup after the team's Triple-A affiliate finished play Monday.

Dillard, who switched to a sidearm delivery last season, had a 3.58 ERA in 17 Minor League appearances and a 4.81 ERA in his first 21 Major League appearances.

"It just showed that my stuff could translate [to the big leagues]," he said.