MIAMI -- Emilio Bonifacio hasn't seen the field since May 18, when he sprained his thumb sliding head-first into second base, and for the Marlins center fielder, his return can't come soon enough.
"It's kind of hard watching these games on TV," he said.
On Tuesday, Bonifacio will be one step closer to that much-anticipated return. The speedy center fielder underwent surgery to repair a ligament in his left thumb on May 25 and will have the stitches removed Tuesday.
Shortly after removing the stitches, Bonifacio will start therapy to help regain strength in the thumb. The Marlins expected Bonifacio to be out four to six weeks following the procedure, so his return it still two to four weeks away.
Bonifacio hasn't done any physical activity with his hand but has been running to stay in shape while he's on the 15-day disabled list.
Despite missing the past three weeks, Bonifacio still leads the Majors with 20 steals. The next closest on the leaderboard is Cubs center fielder Tony Campana with 18. Even without Bonifacio, the Marlins still pace the big leagues with 62 steals entering Sunday -- 14 more than any other team -- thanks largely to the efforts of shortstop Jose Reyes, who is tied for third in the league with 16.
While the Marlins haven't slowed much on the basepaths in Bonifacio's absence, the team has missed his speed in the outfield. Since Bonifacio hit the DL, the Marlins have used a platoon of Chris Coghlan, Justin Ruggiano and the recently optioned Bryan Petersen in center field.
In Sunday's series finale against the Rays, Coghlan got the nod in center.