JUPITER, Fla. -- Every day brings a small step forward for Brendan Ryan in his recovery from right wrist surgery. Mondays, though, bring the promise of large steps.
Ryan believes that he will take soft toss this coming Monday after a week of hitting off a tee. Ideally, it would be one more week after that before he begins taking actual batting practice.
"I've got tomorrow and then Sunday off, and then Monday, we're shooting for soft toss," Ryan said. "As long as I don't go backwards, we'll work soft toss to front toss into batting practice."
Ryan has also been stepping up his throwing, and on Friday, he took some actual practice in the field rather than simply throw in the batting cage.
"I'm about ready to play defense," Ryan said. "Really no restrictions outside of, make sure your arm is in shape, don't do anything really stupid. I'm a little behind as far as that goes, but that's to be expected. But as far as the wrist goes, there's no restrictions throwing."
Ryan said he might enjoy getting into a game before he is cleared to hit, perhaps serving as a pinch-runner or defensive replacement. Manager Tony La Russa downplayed that possibility on Friday morning, but he didn't dismiss it.
"I think if he's ready to play defense and you could give him a couple innings, it would break the routine of not playing," La Russa said. "I don't think you should discount it."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.