LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Six months after fracturing his right elbow in a unique manner, Ozzie Albies will return to action and resume a journey that could lead him to a spot within Atlanta's lineup at some point this year.While visiting Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday, Albies received clearance
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Six months after fracturing his right elbow in a unique manner, Ozzie Albies will return to action and resume a journey that could lead him to a spot within Atlanta's lineup at some point this year.
While visiting Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday, Albies received clearance to begin playing in games. The 20-year-old phenom will serve as the Braves' second baseman during Thursday afternoon's game against the Yankees at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex.
"There's nothing more that we can do with him," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "We've got him ready. He's done all the [live batting practice], the conditioning and everything. He needs to play games, so we're going to get him out there."
Albies, who ranks as MLBPipeline's 10th-best overall prospect, might have been projected to enter this season as Atlanta's second baseman had he not fractured his elbow as he checked a swing while playing for Double-A Mississippi during a Southern League playoff game on Sept. 7.
Initially, there was some concern about how the freak injury might mentally affect Albies once he began participating in baseball activities again. But the energetic and eager youngster has not displayed any sense of hesitance since he was cleared to begin swinging a bat again in January. He spent the past couple weeks taking live batting practice without experiencing any problems.
"I didn't even think about it," Albies said two weeks ago. "I just let it go. I let it [loose] and it felt good."
Albies batted .321, recorded 21 stolen bases (30 attempts) and compiled a .858 OPS while tallying 371 plate appearances for Double-A Mississippi last year. In the 247 plate appearances he tallied for Triple-A Gwinnett after gaining a premature promotion on April 30, he hit .248 with a .658 OPS.
Accounting for the numbers produced at the Triple-A level, it can be argued that Albies would have benefited from more time in the Minors, even if he had not suffered the injury. But health permitting, there is certainly a chance he'll be making his big league debut at some point this year.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.