Ruggiano's strained lower back feeling much better

JUPITER, Fla. -- Justin Ruggiano, a front-runner for the center-field job, hopes to perform baseball activities in a week.

The 30-year-old tweaked his lower back while fielding a ground ball in the outfield last Thursday, and an MRI showed a strain.

"The improvement I've had in the past five days is amazing," Ruggiano said on Tuesday.

Ruggiano was a bright spot for the Marlins in 2012, when he hit .313 with 13 homers and 36 RBIs in 91 games after being acquired from the Astros. He missed the final two weeks of the season because of a shoulder injury.

"Backs are very delicate, so we've got to make sure we take our time with him and make sure he feels good and comfortable before he progresses to anything on the field or throwing or anything like that," manager Mike Redmond said. "He'll just continue to get his treatments and see how it progresses."