Gonzalez gets back on the field

Gonzalez gets back on the field

CINCINNATI -- On Wednesday afternoon, shortstop Alex Gonzalez almost looked like any other Reds player on the field.

That is except for the big metal brace he was wearing on his left knee. Gonzalez, who is recovering from a compression fracture in said knee, participated in a batting practice session on the field for the first time.

"He's looking pretty good," said manager Dusty Baker, who surveyed the early BP session from behind the cage. "He's a little apprehensive yet to make certain moves. That brace isn't real comfortable to him."

Gonzalez said he began taking swings and ground balls last week. This week, he's doing side-to-side moves.

"I've come along pretty good," said Gonzalez, who started his 2008 season on the 15-day disabled list. "I feel just a little bit of pain. It's almost gone. I'm doing a lot of stuff with my leg to get it stronger. Maybe next week I'll start jogging a little bit."

Spring Training was only a few days underway when Gonzalez was diagnosed with the fracture. He didn't resume any baseball activity until March 22.

There is no timetable for a return, according to Baker. Most likely, Gonzalez will have to go on a Minor League rehab assignment before he will be able to rejoin the Reds. Utility infielder Jeff Keppinger has stepped into the shortstop position in the meantime.

First and foremost, Baker is looking for Gonzalez to get over the concern he could re-injure himself while playing.

"There are still a lot of things he has to do," Baker said. "The toughest part for me when I hurt my knee was sliding, stopping and starting. Once you got rolling, it was pretty cool, but to stop and turn corners is where it gets tough. Once he does that a few times and it feels natural, everything else will take care of itself."

Gonzalez is looking forward to that day, and the moment he can play without the brace. He was asked if he could wear a smaller one, and responded that was as small as it could get.

"I don't want to play with this," Gonzalez said. "When I feel good and 100 percent, I might throw it away. Maybe I won't feel comfortable playing shortstop with the brace. You have to move quick, diving and all kind of stuff. I want to feel comfortable. Right now, it helps me, and I wear it every day."

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