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06/03/08 7:50 PM ET
Blalock returns to field after surgery
Infielder takes part in baseball-related activities for first time
By Shawn Shroyer / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Hours before first pitch on Tuesday, Hank Blalock fielded ground balls and took throws at first base. This was the first time since undergoing carpal tunnel release surgery on May 30 that Blalock participated in baseball-related activities. "I just want to get out there and get as much work as I can," Blalock said. However, Blalock still can't take part in full-on baseball activities. With the incision from the surgery in his right hand, he still isn't able to throw or take swings -- being a left-handed hitter, his right hand is his primary hand for gripping the bat. Even during Tuesday's abbreviated fielding practice, Blalock wore a protective glove over his right hand. "He was just making sure he wasn't using that right hand," manager Ron Washington said. Placed on the disabled list on April 29 with a torn left hamstring, Blalock is being cautious with his wrist to ensure this stint on the DL will be his only one of the season. If he pushes the wrist too far, the incision may reopen. "If it heals and splits back open, you're back to square one," Blalock said. Although the wrist injury kept Blalock from returning to action once his hamstring healed, he's been able to keep busy. While waiting for his wrist to fully heal, he's participated in running drills and done core and lower body exercises. He's also practiced one-handed swinging drills and watched video to help him keep his timing at the plate. Blalock, who is converting from third base to first base, took ground balls from Washington and bench coach Art Howe. Washington said he liked what he saw as Blalock also worked on his footwork around the bag, taking throws to all sides of first base, as well as short hops. While it wasn't much, Blalock said every little bit will help him speed up the process of getting back on the field. "I'm trying to prepare myself as much as I can so there will be as little cushion as possible for me to get back out there when I'm ready," Blalock said. Batting .299 with three home runs and seven RBIs when he was placed on the DL, Blalock will most likely push Chris Shelton out of the rotation at first base when he returns.
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.