Injured Eaton to return to batting cage on Thursday

Injured Eaton to return to batting cage on Thursday

PHOENIX -- Exactly two weeks after an MRI revealed a UCL sprain in his left elbow, D-backs rookie outfielder Adam Eaton will begin swinging in the batting cage on Thursday, the first step in his return to game action.

Eaton, the D-backs' No. 5 prospect according to, will hit off a tee and have balls flipped to him at the team's Spring Training facility in Scottsdale while the club travels to Milwaukee for its first road trip of the season.

"I know he's excited to do that," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's really champing at the bit."

While swinging the bat is progress, Eaton is still at least two weeks away from throwing a ball again. The injury didn't require surgery, but the initial prognosis called for him to be shut down for a month.

In the meantime, Eaton could rack up at-bats in extended Spring Training games while his elbow continues to heal before eventually starting a rehab assignment somewhere in the D-backs' farm system.

The club's timetable has the outfielder on a path to be back with the D-backs around early to mid-May.

Eaton was slated to take over center field for the D-backs after they traded away Chris Young in the offseason. The 24-year-old hit .390 this spring, with 23 hits and 10 RBIs in 59 at-bats.

Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.