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09/09/09 8:43 PM ET

Embree plans return before season's end

Pitcher will test recovery of broken leg with fielding drills

DENVER -- Rockies left-hander Alan Embree crumpled on the pitcher's mound on July 10, but didn't think he would stay down as long as others did.

After a line drive by the Braves' Milton Prado had left him with a broken fibula, the assumption was that Embree was gone for the year. At 39, a legitimate question was whether there would be a next year.

But there was Embree on Wednesday, running and doing lateral and backward running for the first time since the injury. He has been throwing for some time now. If he can move well enough to field his position, Embree will return. Now, no one is ruling out seeing him pitch in a game before the regular season ends.

Embree feels even stronger about it.

"If I was a betting man, yes," he said when asked if he will be able to help the Rockies in the final regular-season days.

Rockies manager Jim Tracy said Embree is "a lot further along than I thought he'd be at this point in time."

Embree (2-2, 5.84 ERA in 36 appearances) said he'll monitor how he feels Thursday, then continue his comeback. A big step, he said, will be fielding. He'll start with balls hit hard to the mound and progress to more extensive fielding drills.

After the injury, Embree said he conditioned himself to plan a return.

"After that first X-ray, I saw I was healing better than they anticipated, so maybe there was a chance," Embree said. "Each day, momentum picked up. Then I got to that eighth-week X-ray, and they cleared me to do whatever I could tolerate. This is a legitimate run at getting back before the season is over."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.