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03/14/10 2:10 PM EST

Baker sees action in 'B' game

Catcher might return from strained right arm muscle Friday

JUPITER, Fla. -- If everything remains on schedule, John Baker could be back behind the plate as early as Friday.

A strained right forearm muscle has kept the Marlins' primary catcher out of the lineup since Grapefruit League games began March 4. Baker did play on March 3 against the University of Miami, but he has been spending the past 10 days recovering.

On Sunday, Baker faced pitching in a "B" game against the Mets on a back field at Roger Dean Stadium.

Used as the designated hitter, Baker struck out twice and grounded out. Because he's been out a while, his timing naturally is off. It was Baker's second consecutive day as a DH in a "B" game. On Saturday in Sarasota, Fla., he hit in a scrimmage with the Orioles.

"I felt good yesterday, and I felt good today," he said. "It's going to take a little while to get everything back, my timing back. I haven't seen living pitching."

The way Baker's schedule has shaped up, there is a chance he could play against the Cardinals on Friday. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said the end of the week was realistic.

Before Sunday's game, Baker tested his arm by throwing from 75 feet for 10 minutes. Throwing is what bothered him more than hitting.

"I threw today, no problems," Baker said.

Baker will have an off-day from throwing Monday, and he is scheduled to resume his routine Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, setting up Friday as a possible return date.

"I want to play in as many 'B' games and Minor League games as possible," Baker said. "That's the main thing, seeing live pitching and making sure that I'm healthy."

As Baker gets closer to coming back, Cody Ross is scheduled to start in the outfield Monday against the Twins at Roger Dean Stadium.

Ross has been out with a strained left groin, and he was given Sunday off after going 0-for-3 as the DH on Saturday against the Rays in Port Charlotte, Fla.

"My timing is off," said Ross, who drew a tough assignment facing Rays right-hander Matt Garza. "Garza was lights out."

Ross was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. Saying he is at full strength, he is ready to play in the outfield.

Center fielder Cameron Maybin is at least a few more days away from being game ready. Out since March 7 with a strained left groin, Maybin projects to come back by the end of this week.

Maybin has been hitting, and he is doing some running.

"I'm shooting for the middle of the week," he said.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.