Yelich optimistic for Tuesday return to lineup
Young outfielder believes a rehab stint will not be necessary
MIAMI -- Christian Yelich is on the verge of returning to the Marlins' lineup. The Gold Glove-winning left fielder is eligible to be reinstated from the disabled list on Tuesday, and he is optimistic he can make that date.
Out since Aug. 9 with a bruised right knee, Yelich ran sprints on Sunday and on Monday during batting practice he took fly balls in the outfield. The 23-year-old has continued hitting throughout, and doesn't believe he needs a Minor League rehab assignment.
"We'll see," Yelich said about playing on Tuesday against the Pirates. "It's definitely a target day."
In a season that has been so unstable, the Marlins are aiming for some continuity in September. Currently on the disabled list are core players like Yelich, Jose Fernandez (right biceps strain) and Giancarlo Stanton (broken left hamate bone).
"We're all just trying to get healthy," Yelich said. "We've been pretty banged up.
"It will be nice to come back, have the last month of the year to regroup and see what we can do to make some progress heading into the offseason."
After a slow start, Yelich has made steady improvements at the plate. Over his last 30 games, he's hitting .310/.365/.397.
The hot stretch has raised his season slash line to .275/.343/.376 with six home runs and 29 RBIs.
"Just having everybody just playing together again, healthy," Yelich said. "It's been pretty rare for us all to be out there at the same time."
Yelich is serving his second disabled list stint of the season. He missed time in April with a lower back issue.
With Yelich out, the Marlins have been giving regular playing time in left field to Derek Dietrich.
"It's one of those years where we've had to overcome a lot of injuries," the 2014 National League Gold Glove-winning left fielder said. "It's taken its toll a little bit. For everybody to come back and be healthy hopefully for the last month of the season will be a good thing. Maybe we'll get some chemistry going and take it into the offseason."
Dietrich, Ichiro Suzuki, Marcell Ozuna and Cole Gillespie have been used in the three outfield spots.
Yelich has played in left and center most of the second half.
"I feel like I've got to be ready to play wherever," Yelich said of left or center. "I can't come back with restrictions."