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Top prospect Yelich practicing patience on DL

JUPITER, Fla. -- Christian Yelich is eager to come off the Minor League disabled list, but the Marlins' top prospect is not rushing anything.

The 21-year-old understands that there is a time and place for everything.

For now, the left-handed hitting outfielder's place is on the DL as he recovers from an abdominal strain.

On Wednesday, he played in his first Gulf Coast League rehab game at the Roger Dean Stadium complex. After going 1-for-2 as the designated hitter, he was expected to see time in the outfield on Thursday, but the noon game was rained out.

Yelich is hopeful that he will be reinstated by Double-A Jacksonville early next week. Once back in the lineup, he will get ready for the Futures Game on July 14 at Citi Field in New York.

From there, who knows?

Yelich is regarded as a big part of the Marlins' future, and when he's healthy, it will be a matter of time before he is knocking on the door for a big league callup.

If not for his injury, he might have already broken in with Miami.

"I know it's getting close," Yelich said on Thursday afternoon at Roger Dean Stadium. "It's kind of 'that time,' but my focus right now is just getting healthy and getting back to Jacksonville and playing well.

"I'm looking to enjoy the Futures Game and seeing where we go from there. We've got a couple of months left in the Minor League season. Whatever happens with that and at the big league level, we'll see where it takes us."

It's been an interesting and frustrating season for Yelich. The 21-year-old had an exceptional Spring Training in his first big league camp. He was making a case to win a roster spot, but the organization wasn't ready to promote him directly from Class A to the Majors.

He was sent to Double-A toward the end of March. But he dealt with an injury at the end of Spring Training, and opened the season on the DL with a bruised right heel.

Another setback occurred on June 2.

In the ninth inning, Yelich dove for a ball in the outfield. He strained his abdominal muscle, but didn't let anyone know. He decided to play the next day, until the discomfort became an issue. It did, and he was placed on the DL.

Yelich is hoping his stay in Jupiter lasts just a few more days.

"I feel like it shouldn't take too much time down here, if I'm smart about my at-bats," the Thousand Oaks, Calif., native said. "Three, four or five days down here, and I should be good to go back in Jacksonville."

At Jacksonville, Yelich has had his ups and downs. He is batting .262 with six home runs and 28 RBIs.

"I've hit the ball hard, just at people," he said. "It's just frustrating being hurt and not being able to be on the field and starting like that.

"It's some adversity. But it's something I'll be better off for down the road, dealing with things like this."

Once he is back, he will gear up to help the Suns, while also tuning up for his second straight trip to the Futures Game. In 2012, when he was in Class A, Yelich went 1-for-2 with a walk at the Futures Game in Kansas City.

"It's going to be awesome," Yelich said. "I had a great time last year, and I'm excited to get back. This year it will be in New York City, a bigger stage. I guess everything is a little bit bigger in New York. It's something I'm really looking forward to."

Miami Marlins, Christian Yelich