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Choo feeling optimistic about health of back

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo is close to returning to the lineup after he's been out a week with back spasms. And his status for being ready for Opening Day appears to be solid.

For several days now, Choo has been pain free.

"It's good," said Choo, who last played on March 15. "[Thursday], I did a full schedule of batting practice, shagging in the outfield, running. It was great, no problem. Today, I will do it again and if it feels real good, I think I will play [Saturday].

"In my career, I'm not hurt that much. The first time I felt it, I was worried about it. Twenty-four hours later, I felt great. It's not really a major injury. I feel a lot better now."

Reds manager Dusty Baker believed there was a good chance that Choo would play against the Rangers on Saturday.

"I have him penciled in," Baker said. "It depends on how he feels tonight after activity. I don't anticipate any setbacks."

In 11 games this spring, Choo is batting .400 (8-for-25). He fully expects to be in the lineup when the Reds open the regular season vs. the Angels on April 1.

"If I had this same feeling during the regular season, I could play," Choo said. "It's Spring Training and I still have a little more time. I don't want to make it worse. It's more important for the season. I want to play every day, 162 games."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["spring_training" ] }
{"event":["spring_training" ] }