Gattis hits in cage, getting closer to return

Astros slugger underwent hernia surgery in February

Gattis hits in cage, getting closer to return

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Four weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia, Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis has progressed to the point he's hitting in the cage. Gattis said he took 25 swings in the batting cage Tuesday, and he is optimistic about his progress.

"I feel like I'm getting closer," said Gattis, who underwent surgery Feb. 9. "The doctor is coming in today to check me out. I'm sure I already know what he's going to say. It will be to ramp it up as much until it's a little sore."

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Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Gattis has done a few drills to reintroduce him to catching. Gattis started 136 games last year at designated hitter and 11 in left field, but he didn't get behind the plate. Gattis was primarily a catcher with the Braves in 2013-14, and getting back behind the plate could keep him in the lineup more.

"We've got to get him on the field first, but I would like him to continue opening up to the idea that could be a possibility for him sometime during the year," Hinch said. "It's to be seen yet what he can handle in the spring and how quickly he can get up and running back there. His priority is going to be the bat and getting him into the batters' box, but as much as he can handle, we're going to keep the catching idea alive and see where we are at the end of camp."

The original prognosis was Gattis would be out four to six weeks.

"I'm really happy with where he's at with his workout program," Hinch said.

Worth noting

• Right-hander Luke Gregerson is working his way back from a strained oblique suffered early in camp. He threw in the bullpen Sunday and will throw again Wednesday. Hinch said it will then be determined if Gregerson should throw live batting practice or go right into a game.

"I feel like I'm ready," Gregerson said. "Whenever they're comfortable letting me get out in a game, then that's when I'll be there. It gets a little tedious sometimes when you go through the motions of doing certain things, and seeing everyone else get out there getting in some action, and you've got to sit back and watch. I'm looking forward to getting out there."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.