The Detroit Tigers announced that first baseman Miguel Cabrera has been cleared to initiate non-impact baseball activities, which include hitting and throwing.
No definitive timetable has been placed on Cabrera, but the Tigers said: "It's optimistic Miguel could be ready close to Opening Day."
Cabrera's CT scan was reviewed by Dr. Robert Anderson, who deemed his surgically repaired right ankle healthy enough to hop the final hurdle in a four-month rehabilitation process.
"Very positive news," Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said.
Cabrera "displayed a good progression of healing," according to the Tigers, and will begin a running progression until full weight bearing is achieved.
"He's been feeling good, he continues to feel better and better all the time, so he feels real good about it," Dombrowski said. "He wants to be in the lineup and play."
Dombrowski told Cabrera that the Tigers would be careful with him. "We don't want to push him," he said. "We want to make sure he takes his time and feels comfortable."
Cabrera underwent surgery in late October to repair a stress fracture and remove bone spurs from his right ankle.
He was hobbled by the injuries for much of last season, when he hit .313 with 25 home runs and 109 RBI.
The surgery was his second in as many offseasons. Last winter, he underwent core muscle surgery.
Cabrera, who turns 32 in April, could report to spring training as soon as Monday, when the full Tigers' team reports, but his arrival could be delayed because of the start of his running progression.
That progression will begin on an anti-gravity treadmill called the Ultra-G.
• The San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians and Philadelphia Phillies were the first teams to open camp, with pitchers and catchers reporting on Wednesday.
• First baseman Eric Hosmer and the Kansas City Royals avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $13.9 million, two-year contract.
• Lefthander Bruce Chen, who spent the past six seasons with the Royals, agreed to a minor league contract with the Indians. The 37-year-old has gone 82-80 in 16 major league seasons, pitching with teams in the NL and four in the AL. He battled a back injury last season.
• The Seattle Mariners said pitching prospect Victor Sanchez remains hospitalized in Venezuela following a boating accident on Friday.