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Giancarlo Stanton (shoulder) expected back Thursday

Apr 17, 2013, 10:56 PM EST

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Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton hasn’t played in a week because of a left shoulder contusion. But things are suddenly looking up for the young slugger.

According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, Stanton felt fine after taking batting practice on Wednesday afternoon and is scheduled to return to the Marlins’ starting lineup for Thursday night’s series-opener against the Reds at Great American Ball Park.

“Stanton hit today, and he said things felt good,” manager Mike Redmond told reporters before Wednesday’s series-finale with the Nationals. “He should be good to go for tomorrow. That’s a good sign, obviously. We all know how important he is to this lineup. That’s good news. He felt better today.”

Stanton was batting just .167 with a .575 OPS in nine games before the injury, but it shouldn’t take him long to get going. The 23-year-old hit .290/.361/.608 with 37 home runs and 86 RBI in 123 games last season.

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