Stanton to start hitting in a few weeks

Marlins slugger on conditioning program as he recovers from surgery

Stanton to start hitting in a few weeks

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Giancarlo Stanton has returned from his annual month-long vacation overseas, and the three-time All-Star is back to conditioning at his home in Southern California. In a couple of weeks, he's expected to begin his hitting progression as he recovers from a broken left hamate bone.

Although Stanton hasn't swung a bat since September, the Marlins are confident their power-hitting right fielder will be fully ready once Spring Training begins in mid-February.

How the Marlins do in 2016 may largely be determined by Stanton's health. The broken hamate bone limited him to 74 games in 2015.

When on the field, Stanton was a force, belting 27 home runs and driving in 67 runs.

Stanton suffered his injury on June 26, and two days later he underwent surgery. The projection was he'd be out four to six weeks. But his recovery was slowed by scar tissue and a weakening in his left ring and pinkie fingers. He was hopeful to return in September, but was eventually shut down.

Marlins shut down Stanton

"It was unfortunate because we were hopeful it was going to be on the low end of the window, but we knew there was a possibility it could take longer, and it did take longer," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said at the General Managers Meetings on Tuesday. "But he should be fine reporting for Spring Training."

Stanton is currently training, lifting weights and running. He's expected to start swinging the bat around Dec. 1.

Stanton has been in communication with Marlins trainer Sean Cunningham. In the upcoming weeks, either a trainer or strength coach will travel to California and check up on Stanton and other Miami players in the area.

"[Hitting], that's later in his program," Hill said. "Now, it's just his body, training, lifting, running."

The Marlins are hopeful their young outfield trio of Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna will be ready and healthy in 2016.

There has been speculation that Ozuna might be traded, but Hill on Tuesday downplayed that notion.

"We aren't looking to trade Marcell Ozuna," Hill said. "Those rumors just took off like wildfire. He's a young player. It's a game of adjustments. He will admit he came into Spring Training a little heavy and was behind a little bit."

Ozuna was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on July 4, and he returned to Miami in mid-August.

"He went down, worked on some things and came back," Hill said. "He's still very much part of our core. We're looking for great things from him."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.