Yelich, Giancarlo not being rushed back

Former walks on four pitches in pinch-hit appearance on Friday

Yelich, Giancarlo not being rushed back

ATLANTA -- Progress is coming in stages for Marlins outfielders Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton. Both swung the bat on Friday in warmups, but no exact return date to the lineup has been set.

Yelich, out for seven straight games with back spasms, took batting practice at Turner Field and later walked in a pinch-hit appearance during the seventh inning of Friday's 4-2 loss to the Braves. Stanton (right side soreness) swung the bat 30 times in the cages.

"We know we're able to do that, and that makes him available from the standpoint of having another hitter on the bench," manager Don Mattingly said.

Stanton, who last played on Monday, took about 15 swings off a tee, and he added about 15 swings on flips in the cages.

"He felt pretty good," Mattingly said earlier in the day. "We'll leave that at that, for right now. He won't hit out here. But those guys, obviously, are getting better."

In 42 games, Yelich is batting .320 with five homers and 20 RBIs. Stanton, while batting .214, paces the club in home runs (12) and RBIs (26).

Yelich's nice diving catch

Mattingly cautioned about giving a precise return date, because he feels sometimes players rush themselves to meet that day.

Initially, the Marlins were hoping Yelich would start on Friday in Atlanta. Instead, Cole Gillespie started in left in the series opener, with Ichiro Suzuki playing in right field. Yelich had to settle for the pinch-hit appearance.

"We were hoping that Yelly would be ready to play today," Mattingly said. "But when we all get caught up in that date, then Yelly may try to play when he is still feeling a little something. He's getting better, but he's not quite 100 percent."

Yelich initially tweaked his back while swinging in the cages at Marlins Park last Saturday before the team took the field for batting practice. He was announced into Monday's game as a pinch-hitter. However, the move was as a decoy against the Rays, who made a pitching change. At that point, Yelich was lifted for a pinch-hitter.

"The biggest thing for me is don't play until you're ready to play," Mattingly said. "Again, I don't want to force that square peg into a round hole, with the artificial date. I want him to play when he's ready to play."

The team has outfield depth with Ichiro and Gillespie. Derek Dietrich and Chris Johnson also are options to play left field.

"I think we're able to sustain three, four, five days a lot better than 35 or 30," Mattingly said. "We're just better equipped to deal with that. It's not ideal, but it's OK."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for since 2002. 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.