Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips has been cleared to begin swinging a bat, marking the final step in his rehab process.
Phillips has been on the disabled list since July 11 after tearing a tendon in his left thumb and having surgery to repair the injury. Reds manager Bryan Price has said Phillips is ahead of schedule in his rehab, which was originally projected to last six weeks.
Reds trainer Paul Lessard told the Cincinnati Enquirer that Phillips is swinging off a tee for now.
Lessard's concern is more with Phillips in the field. Phillips has been taking ground balls with a flat glove. Getting him into his regular glove and some sort of protection is key.
"We're working on some devices to keep the thumb stiff," Lessard said. "He's such a freewheeling guy. I don't want him hesitant in the field."
There's no definite timetable on when Phillips will return. He will go on a rehab assignment before being activated.
A three-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove-winner, Phillips is hitting .272 with a .701 OPS and seven home runs in 86 games this season.
The Reds are 59-56, four games back of Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central and three games behind the San Francisco Giants for the second Wild Card.
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- Ben Estes