LOS ANGELES -- For Justin Upton, the watching is the hardest part.
The D-backs outfielder has been relegated to spectator since straining his left oblique muscle during his final swing of batting practice July 9. For a soon-to-be 21-year-old used to being active, sitting and watching has been as much if not more of a challenge than the rehabilitation process.
"That's the worst thing," Upton said. "It's better because we're winning because to watch a team struggle and not be able to do anything would be the worst."
Upton may not have to watch for much longer. The past few days he's hit in the batting cage and if he continues to feel good, he could take batting practice on the field when the team returns home next week.
The team wants to make sure he's as close to 100 percent as possible before he does that to guard against the chance of reinjuring the muscle.
"There's more adrenaline when you hit on the field than in the cage and then there's another level in a game so we're being careful," Upton said.
Speaking of that rush, it's what Upton misses the most these days.
"When you're not on that field you don't get that adrenaline flow and you don't get the rush you get when you're out there playing every day," Upton said. "That's hard."
Instead he spends his time getting treatment in the training room with fellow outfielder Eric Byrnes, who never stops reminding him that he waited 10 professional seasons before making his first appearance on the disabled list.
"Being able to be in the dugout and high-five the guys and still be part of the team that helps, too," Upton said. "Not being able to be down there would be a real struggle. I'm just hoping when I get back to hit the ground running and help us keep winning."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.