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06/17/09 2:15 PM ET

Ramirez nearly ready to begin taking BP

Cubs third baseman hopes to return before All-Star break

CHICAGO -- Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez, on the disabled list with a dislocated left shoulder, stepped up his hitting and began taking soft toss on Wednesday, and if all goes well, will start batting practice by Monday.

Ramirez, who was injured diving for a ball May 8, was running the bases and taking grounders at third before the Cubs faced the White Sox on Wednesday in an Interleague game.

"Between now and this next road trip [which starts Monday], he'll start taking batting practice," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.

The Cubs have not rushed Ramirez's rehab, but do need him back in the lineup. The regular No. 4 hitter, his absence has been part of the reason the Cubs have struggled offensively. He was hitting .364 in 18 games with four homers and 16 RBIs.

"The swing is going to be the toughest thing and probably diving [on defense], but I can't control that," Ramirez said. "Hopefuly, I'll be back before the break."

Being sidelined for so long is driving him crazy.

"I don't know what to do," Ramirez said. "I've never been through this before."

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