Iwamura progressing from knee surgery

Iwamura progressing from surgery

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura fielded ground balls on Tuesday for the first time since injuring his left knee against the Marlins in late May, and he will do the same on Wednesday as he continues to rehab from surgery last month.

On Monday, the 30-year-old Iwamura did some light running and took batting practice for the first time, reporting no ill effects. He had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on June 22 to repair what was originally thought to be a torn ACL that he suffered in a collision with the Marlins' Chris Coghlan on May 24. The surgery revealed the ACL to be only partially torn, and Iwamura was expected to miss only six to eight more weeks.

On Tuesday, Iwamura displayed his progress, fielding about 20 ground balls and making short throws to first base. Rays manager Joe Maddon liked the fluidity and comfort level in his drills.

"He looked good," Maddon said. "[He] took 20 or so ground balls. [He] had no problems with regard to bending or moving side to side. I was watching him throw, there was no hesitation with that."

There is still no timetable as to when Iwamura can begin a Minor League rehab stint, and a large, bulky brace remains on his knee. Considering that Iwamura was thought to be shelved for the rest of the season just a month ago, his activity and spirits are a good sign.

Iwamura was batting .310 with 16 RBIs in 44 games as Tampa Bay's starting second baseman before the injury. In his place, Ben Zobrist has inherited the position and excelled, earning a spot on the 2009 American League All-Star team as a reserve.

If Iwamura returns as early as expected, there's been no decision yet about what his role will be. The Rays seem to be taking it one day at a time.

"So far, he's been pretty good," Maddon said. "He was swinging the bat in the tunnel. He's been progressing well."

Zach Schonbrun is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.