LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Top Atlanta Braves prospect Ozzie Albies has been cleared to play at spring training.
The 20-year-old infielder fractured his elbow at the end of last season. After weeks with his arm in a cast and months rehabbing, Albies finally is back in the Braves lineup. He'll leadoff against the New York Yankees at Champion Stadium on Thursday.
"A little excited," Albies said Thursday morning. "I’m just happy to get back out there. Just going to do my thing."
Wednesday, the Braves medical staff took an X-ray of Albies' elbow and told him he was good to go right away.
After fracturing his elbow last Sept., he went home to his native country of Curacao for a few weeks before arriving at the ESPN Wide World of Sports to start rehabbing. He worked on getting his strength back in January, but he only just recently began swinging the bat again. He had two live batting practices.
Albies described his armstrength as "weak" when he finally got the cast off. Now, he said it's back to normal.
"To come back in great shape," Albies said was the hardest part of the entire process. "It wasn't easy because whenever my arm was in a cast, sleeping, sitting around, it was painful when I started moving again. It was sore everywhere."
Fellow secondbaseman and veteran Brandon Phillips said he's been rooting for Albies during his recovery.
"I asked him if he was feeling better," Phillips said about seeing Albies again Thursday. "Hopefully he comes back and gets in the swing of things. He's the future. Hopefully he can just go over there and do his thing."
Albies said he won't push himself too hard and not do too much too fast. Phillips said that's the best thing Albies can do.
"I just told him not to push it to much and not do anything too crazy because it's a career, man. You got to take your time doing things and when he's 100 percent, then push it to the limit," Phillips said.
Now that Albies' rehab is complete, he said he will begin working on his timing at the plate. With an anticipated major league debut set for the upcoming season, Albies has high hopes for the future.
"Seems like we’re going to do some great stuff up there in Atlanta soon," he said.
Last season, Albies hit .292 and 53 RBIs at Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett. He is the Braves' No. 2 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.PHOTOS | Ozzie Albies