VIERA, Fla. -- In an otherwise empty Space Coast Stadium early this morning, Chris Marrero started jogging up and down stairs, going section by section from one side of the ballpark to the other.
While the rest of his teammates prepare for Opening Day, Marrero can only perform these mundane exercises, still recovering from a torn hamstrung suffered in November while playing in the Dominican Republic.
"Not too much so far," he said, adding: "I'm just doing whatever I can. Strengthening and working on flexibility."
It's going to be a long and frustrating spring for Marrero, who won't be able to head north with the rest of the club for Opening Day. There's no official timetable for his return, but it's not expected to come before July.
"I'm not sure," he said. "It just depends on how my body feels."
The injury came at a most inopportune moment for Marrero, the Nationals' top draft pick in 2006 who made his major-league debut in September and performed well enough to merit consideration for a spot on the Opening Day roster.
But while playing first base in the Dominican Winter League, Marrero tried to stretch to catch a low throw "and went too far, did kind of a split."
Could he tell immediately the severity of the injury?
"No, I didn't feel too bad," he said. "I was walking a little bit. I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know it was going to be torn."
Marrero came home to the United States and had surgery, then began the slow process of recovery. He's allowed to do some baseball activities, playing catch and hitting off a tee.
But that's about it for now, leaving Marrero jogging up and down the stadium stands while everyone else is on the field preparing for the season.