DENVER -- San Diego outfielder Will Venable, on the 15-day disabled list since July 3 with a lower back strain, could begin taking batting practice this weekend.
Manager Bud Black indicated that Venable could start hitting before the team takes a four-day break for the All-Star Game.
Venable said his range of motion has improved, and he has responded well to exercises for his back.
"It's getting better every day," he said.
Venable, who was placed on the DL retroactive to July 2, is eligible to return on July 17 for the Padres' third game back from the All-Star break.
Venable, who could be sent out on a brief Minor League rehabilitation assignment late next week, was beginning to heat up at the plate after a few mechanical adjustments, raising his average from .227 on June 19 to .242 on June 28.
And for as much as he would like to step right back into action the way he was swinging the bat, Venable is realistic enough to know it doesn't always work that way.
"You can't just flip on a switch and feel like I felt," Venable said.