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02/23/11 4:21 PM EST

Lee getting close to taking batting practice

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Derrek Lee is aiming to take batting practice on Friday or Saturday, as the veteran first baseman continues to progress ahead of schedule as he rehabs his surgically repaired right thumb.

"I don't have to slow him down," manager Buck Showalter said of Lee, who is about three months removed from the procedure. "He did ask me, 'When's that intraquad game?' I said, 'You are not in the intrasquad game.'

"I'm just going to trust him right now. I trust him, period. But with something like this, [there's] no reason to get ahead of ourselves. I know exactly what, not to an at-bat, but I have a pretty good idea of what he's going to need. He knows it better than I do. He may think he needs four weeks of at-bats, and there's always ways to get at-bats."

Lee has been hitting soft toss in the cage and will be held out of Sunday's intrasquad game and the first few Grapefruit League games, Showalter said. Lee's first few batting-practice sessions will presumably be off one of the team's Minor League coaches, as Lee works up to joining the rest of the position players in taking batting practice off Orioles pitchers.

Lee suffered the thumb injury on Opening Day last season, but he managed to stay on the field, playing in 148 games for Chicago and Atlanta, hitting a combined .260 with 19 homers and 80 RBIs.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.