MIAMI -- Nothing has changed in the timeline for his return, but Tuesday was a crucial day for Emilio Bonifacio.
The Marlins center fielder was examined and cleared by a team physician to increase his baseball activities.
"He gave me the green light to start hitting and play catch," Bonifacio said.
Bonifacio is recovering from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. The injury occurred in Cleveland on May 18, and he's been on the disabled list since May 20.
On Tuesday, Bonifacio began hitting off a tee. He also put a glove on and played catch. The injury is to his glove hand.
In recent days, Bonifacio had taken practice swings.
The hope is to have him back after the All-Star break. The Marlins come out of the break on July 13 at home against the Nationals.
"I don't want to be rushed back," Bonifacio said. "I'm feeling great."
Dealing with young players a balancing act for Ozzie
MIAMI -- All the losing is trying Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen's patience.
Because Miami has a number of young players, the fiery Guillen has been careful not to lash out at his team. Instead, he's been uplifting and encouraging.
"I have to be careful how I treat these kids here," the manager said. "I don't have a veteran team. I don't know how they're going to handle it. I'm not going to put more pressure on them. I don't need to say something they know. How you're going to say it, how they're going to digest it, how they're going to take it."
While he's bitten his tongue, the manager cautioned he could be close to once again making headlines because of his emotions.
"I will, pretty soon," Guillen said. "I want to be on ESPN. I want to be all over the news. I haven't been there for a long time.
"I should. I make a lot of money when I'm doing that. Pretty soon I'm ready to erupt. But right now ... I'm just trying to be positive the most that I can, because we need that."
Bottom line is production. The Marlins have been baffling, because they won 21 games in May, but have just five wins in June entering Tuesday.
"I believe we have a good ballclub," Guillen said. "I believe we do. Why? Because we've played good before. I know we're going to play good again. The only thing I want is more consistency. I want the players to feel that way, how good they are.
"We went from the best team in baseball to the worst team in baseball. You can't be that drastic. That's why I'm confused. I think we have the talent."
Guillen on Tuesday sported a cleaner look, shaving off his goatee.
"I shaved it because I had more white hair than when I got here," he joked. "Thank you to the Marlins. I look older."
Miami hopes Dunn is answer as second lefty
MIAMI -- What the Marlins have seen out of Mike Dunn in his last two outings could be a sign that the bullpen has made a significant upgrade.
In Monday's disheartening 8-7 loss to the Cardinals in 10 innings, Dunn stepped up with two big strikeouts in the eighth.
Miami has been seeking a second lefty to go with specialist Randy Choate.
Although Dunn made the team out of Spring Training, he has had his struggles with command. Twice this season he was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans. He was recalled on June 21.
"I'm very excited because we're going to need him," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We can't rely on Choate every time we face lefties. If Dunn continues to throw the ball the way he did the last two outings, that's going to be a huge move for us. That's going to be like trading for somebody."
Dunn has a 95-mph fastball, and against the Cardinals on Monday, he was able to locate it at the knees and on the corners.
During his second stint at New Orleans, he worked on his offspeed pitches and his slider, and he's added a curveball.
"Before I got sent down, basically the only thing I could throw for a strike was a fastball," the left-hander said. "They were laying off my offspeed pitches. Every pitcher goes down and you work on pitching in the bottom of the zone, and throwing quality strikes and not belt-high strikes. That's kind of where I was before.
"I was trying to throw to velocity and not to a location. I was throwing instead of pitching. It's as simple as that: Clear the head and go back and pitch and not throw."
A turning point in him finding his groove came on May 28, in his first appearance at Triple-A. Dunn was stretched out and threw 3 1/3 innings. He struck out six that night.
"It was a day game in New Orleans," he said. "It was hot. I couldn't go out there and just grunt my way through an inning. I had to go three innings. I had to settle and I had to pitch. Velocity was there. After that, it kind of clicked. I was like, 'Wow, that was pitching and not throwing.' "
In terms of balancing the bullpen, having two quality lefties gives the club an advantage.
"That's going to be the biggest move, or biggest add, we're going to have," Guillen said. "To have Dunn help Choate against lefties. ... With that arm, you've got to throw strikes. That's it. If we get to the point where Dunn can help us against lefties, this ballclub is going to be a lot better. We're going to need him."