Giancarlo takes BP, hopes to return next series

Giancarlo takes BP, hopes to return next series

ATLANTA -- More clarity is being shed on Giancarlo Stanton's return to the starting lineup. The Marlins' right fielder is moving in the right direction, taking a few rounds of batting practice with his teammates on Sunday before a 7-3 win over the Braves at Turner Field.

It's a significant step forward in Stanton's progression as he aims to return at some point during the four-game series with the Pirates, which starts at 7:10 p.m. ET on Monday at Marlins Park.

Stanton has been out since Wednesday due to right side soreness. Neither the team nor slugger has said specifically what he is dealing with, but Stanton acknowledged it could be related to an oblique, intercostal or rib issue.

It has been a rough month physically and at the plate for Stanton, who had a collision in the outfield with Marcell Ozuna on May 15 at Washington. He also put stress on his right side making a throw to third base against the Rays last Tuesday, his last time in the lineup.

Marlins collide in outfield

Stanton is batting .214 with 12 home runs and 26 RBIs. But he has had a difficult May, batting .173 with four homers in 22 games.

After his collision with Ozuna, he had a stretch of going 0-for-19 with 16 strikeouts. Stanton noted his right side has given him problems since Spring Training.

"It was in and out, sporadic," Stanton said. "Not enough to keep me out. Once it started to hurt throwing, I stopped."

Stanton did, however, say he tweaked his side while swinging the bat during the series with Tampa Bay.

"That's the side I yanked, too, but I can't specifically say [what is wrong]," the three-time All-Star said. "I don't know."

In recent days, Stanton has been taking roughly 50 swings in the batting cages at Turner Field.

Sunday was his first time doing drills on the field since last Tuesday. During BP, Stanton took some easy cuts at the plate in his first round, focusing on hitting to the opposite field. In his second round, he swung with a little more authority. In his final round, he drove a few pitches over the outfield walls.

Manager Don Mattingly is pleased Stanton is back on the field in some capacity.

"It's encouraging from the standpoint we're getting to that point," Mattingly said.

The Marlins did get some good news on the injury front on Sunday when Christian Yelich (back spasms) returned to the lineup for the first time since May 20. The left fielder did have two pinch-hit appearances in the first two games at Atlanta. He went 1-for-5 on Sunday.

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.