Swanson could rejoin Braves during homestand

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James Dansby Swanson was born Feb. 11, 1994 in Kennesaw, Georgia. Swanson played college baseball at Vanderbilt. He was the first player taken in the 2015 MLB draft, by Arizona. The Braves acquired Swanson from the Diamondbacks on Dec. 9, 2015, in the Shelby Miller trade. The Braves also acquired Ender Inciarte. Swanson, who played at Marietta High School in metro Atlanta, made his major league debut Aug. 17, 2016. Swanson was 2-for-4 in that debut against the Twins. His first hit was a single off Kyle Gi

Dansby Swanson loved having Braves teammates back in town Tuesday following their successful road trip. Now the shortstop looks forward to coming off the disabled list and rejoining them, which could happen by the weekend.

“I’m great – smiling,” he said Tuesday, back in his element, taking part in pregame work before a series opener against the Cubs and hanging out with teammates. “I was like, depressed, for the past week. It’s good to have all my friends back. Watching the games on TV every night was abysmal.”

He hasn’t played in nearly two weeks because of left-wrist inflammation, but Swanson took batting practice Tuesday for the first time since going on the 10-day DL and could be sent on a brief minor-league rehab assignment as soon as Thursday, Braves manager Brian Snitker said.

“We’ll see how he feels (Wednesday) when he gets here, and if he hits again and feels good, he’s not that far off that he would be ready to go out,” Snitker said. “I think he needs to go out and play at least one game to torque the bat in a game situation.”

He last played May 2 at New York, leaving mid-game that night for what was initially called a precautionary measure because of wrist soreness. Two days later he was placed on the DL and not permitted to do any hitting or catching for nine days, although he stayed in shape running and throwing.

Swanson took his first swings Sunday, hitting balls off a tee and balls “flipped” to him in the batting cage.

“I feel good,” he said. “Each and every day I’m feeling better, which is obviously the goal. Swung the bat Sunday, Monday and today. Progressing nicely. Basically I’ve done everything I can do kind of minimize the gaps of not having played. I’ve been running, throwing, doing everything I need to do to make sure I stay in shape and be ready to hit the ground running.”

Asked when he would begin a rehab assignment, Swanson said, “It just kind of depends on how I feel, and obviously don’t want to completely rush back. But at the same time don’t want to just be super conservative because I’m competitive and stubborn, so they have to deal with that, too.”

Snitker said that assignment could begin soon, as long as Swanson felt good after taking batting practice Tuesday and Wednesday. He likely would rehab with low Single-A Rome, since that team plays at home Thursday through Sunday while Triple-A Gwinnett is out of town through Sunday.

Asked if Swanson could rejoin the Braves at some point during a six-game homestand that runs through Sunday, Snitker said, “He could. I don’t know if he will, but he could, if everything goes well. He feels really good. He feels like he could go out tomorrow. But we’ll get him hitting a little more today and tomorrow and see where he’s at.”

Swanson didn’t accompany the Braves on a three-city, 6-1 trip that ran through Monday. The team typically has rehabbing players stay back and work with doctors and physical therapists in Atlanta if there’s no chance they could begin a rehab assignment or be activated from the DL during the trip.

Swanson rehabbed at an empty SunTrust Park and watched the Braves games from his couch with his dog, all the while aiming to return during the homestand.

“That’s kind of been my goal this whole time,” he said, “but then again, it’d be stupid for me to just go ahead and promise and guarantee certain things. So, like I said, every day progressing nicely, feel great, definitely happy to have this (ballpark) not be a ghost town, basically. ... I think everybody knows how much I love my teammates. Being able to have them back here is awesome for me.

“Obviously I’m from here (Marietta), and I was able to see some family and stuff, but at the same time this is my family, too. So I definitely missed them.”

Swanson never used the wrist as an excuse for his declined production before the DL stint, but he was 8-for-43 (.186) with no extra-base hits, one RBI, 16 strikeouts and a .441 OPS in his last 11 games. This after batting .352 (25-for-71) with 11 extra-base hits, 12 RBIs, 16 strikeouts and a .964 OPS in his first 17 games.

He and the Braves hope taking a couple of weeks to get the wrist healed will prevent it from being a nagging issue that it might’ve been if he tried to play through it.

“Yeah, just a little bit of peace of mind and understanding what needs to be done to move forward,” he said. “To continue to be able to play and not have to take rest periods like this. So that’s definitely comforting.”

He reiterated that it wasn’t any particular incident or motion that caused the issue, but rather normal wear and tear from playing every day.

“I think that’s really what it was,” he said, “now we’ve found some good ways to be able to prevent that from happening again.”

Johan Camargo has started 11 of 12 games at shortstop since Swanson was injured, including Tuesday’s series opener against the Cubs. Camargo was 4-for-33 (.121) with no exra-base hits, one RBI and a .431 OPS in the past 11 games (10 starts) before Tuesday.