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Ruggiano close to resuming full baseball activities

JUPITER, Fla. -- Justin Ruggiano is starting to ease back into baseball activities.

On Thursday morning, the Miami outfielder did some light throwing, the first step in his recovery from a strained lower back. He also tracked some pitches, but he has yet to be cleared to begin swinging a bat.

Sometime next week, Ruggiano is hopeful to begin full baseball activities.

"I threw a little today," Ruggiano said. "Every day I'm doing more."

Ruggiano entered Spring Training as the frontrunner to start in center field.

Since he was hampered by back problems last season, he is being especially careful in getting back into playing shape.

"With a back, you can't push it too much," Ruggiano said.

With Ruggiano out, the Marlins have been working several players into the center-field spot. Kevin Mattison started on Thursday against the Cardinals.

Prospect Christian Yelich started in center on Wednesday at the Nationals. Chris Coghlan and Bryan Petersen also are getting some opportunities.