Schafer had a cast removed from his left arm on Thursday and plans to attempt to start swinging a bat again on Monday. If all goes well, the 22-year-old center fielder will attempt to play for Triple-A Gwinnett during the final weeks of August.
But if Schafer once again feels the discomfort that has been present since he swung and missed a pitch during Atlanta's April home opener at Turner Field, he'll likely undergo a surgical procedure that will require three months of rehab and prevent him from playing winter ball this year.
"I'm hoping the pain is gone and I can play for [Gwinnett] and get some at-bats in and then hopefully go up in September and show that I can handle that," said Schafer, who spent the first two months of this season as Atlanta's starting center fielder.
Braves doctors have twice diagnosed Schafer's ailment as a bone bruise. If surgery is necessary, he said that doctors will attempt to fix a strained tendon located in his hand.
While hitting .204 and striking out 63 times in 50 games with Atlanta, Schafer created reason to believe he wasn't ready for the challenge of Major League pitching. But his struggles could have been a product of the wrist ailment that caused him to be sidelined soon after he was optioned to Gwinnett.
After returning to Gwinnett's lineup on June 27, he played six games before feeling the discomfort that led doctors to put him in a cast for a month.
If he doesn't need surgery, Schafer said that he wants to play winter ball. His 2008 season was shortened by a 50-game suspension and he's totaled just 399 at-bats over the course of the past two seasons.