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Giancarlo Stanton takes batting practice, could return this week

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After it appeared for a couple weeks that Giancarlo Stanton would be unable to return this season, the Marlins slugger took batting practice on Monday and could return as soon as later this week

Giancarlo Stanton's recovery from a broken hamate bone in his left hand has been long and frustrating. The initial diagnosis after the surgery stated that Stanton would return in about four to six weeks, but it is has now been over 11 weeks.

Last week, Stanton stated that he still wanted to return this season, even though he was not making in progressions in his rehab at the time. While Stanton returning to the Marlins lineup in 2015 seemed like a long shot a week ago, the Marlins slugger took a huge step in his rehab on Monday night.

Before the Marlins began the first game of their three-game set against the Mets, Stanton was spotted taking batting practice with his teammates. There is no exact return date yet, but Stanton said he felt good after his first batting practice session in over a few months, via Joe Frisaro of MLB.com:

"I feel good," Stanton said. "I don't have a date [to come back]." It appears unlikely Stanton will play in the three-game set at the Mets. Best-case scenario would be one of the four games at Washington, when Miami takes on the Nationals beginning Thursday.

The last time Stanton did live hitting, at least that the public was notified of, was Sept. 2 in a rehab game. Stanton was feeling discomfort in his hand and was struggling to grip the bat, leading the Marlins to end his rehab assignment after just one game. After that point the possibility of Stanton returning to the lineup this season seemed like an afterthought.

Stanton's 74 appearances in 2015 mark a career low and this season will be the first time in his six-year career that he has failed to play in at least 100 games. Regardless of how many games are remaining on the schedule, Stanton is itching to get back on the field and the Marlins are not going to shut him down if he is healthy enough to play. He is on a race against time, but if Stanton is feeling a lot better it wouldn't be a surprise to see him in the lineup early next week for the last dozen games of the season.