MIAMI -- Emilio Bonifacio had the stitches removed from his surgically repaired left thumb Tuesday, and the Marlins are eyeing the All-Star break for the center fielder's return.
"It's still the same plan," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I think he plans to get better before that ... because he heals pretty fast. But we have to stick with the plan and the plan is maybe right after the All-Star break. ... That's a pretty sensitive spot. He's got to get it strong."
Bonifacio sprained a ligament in his thumb while sliding head-first into second base on a steal attempt against the Indians on May 18. The Marlins placed him on the 15-day disabled list two days later, and Bonifacio underwent surgery to repair the ligament on May 25. He will begin rehab therapy on the thumb this week.
The team expected Bonifacio to be out four to six weeks after the surgery. The high end of that estimate would have pegged his return just before the All-Star break, but Guillen wants to play it safe with his speedy center fielder.
"He's a big guy in my plans about how we're going to play," Guillen said. "Hopefully, he'll be back before he should be, but we have to take our time with him."
Prior to his injury, Bonifacio was a terror on the bases for opposing pitchers. He had 20 stolen bags in 21 attempts, with the play that caused the injury marking the only time he was caught stealing. Despite the injury, Bonifacio's 20 steals are still tops in the Majors.
In Bonifacio's absence, the Marlins have used a platoon in center field, with Chris Coghlan, Justin Ruggiano and Bryan Petersen -- who was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans last week -- all seeing time.
"We miss his speed and we miss his toughness," Guillen said. "That kid is a spark for the ballclub. He gets everybody going, makes everybody ready to go. Of course we miss him. We miss his glove in the outfield. We miss his speed on the bases. We miss his energy."