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05/26/08 2:04 PM ET

Tracy feeling healthy in season debut

Infielder returns from disabled list; Hammock sent to Triple-A

ATLANTA -- Chad Tracy didn't have to wait very long before getting right back in the swing of things.

The D-backs infielder reported to Atlanta on Monday after being activated from the 15-day disabled list and found himself in the lineup at third base, batting fourth.

"You don't want to sit around and let the butterflies build up," said Tracy. "It's nice to go right out there and get my feet wet again."

Tracy last played in a Major League game on Aug. 12, 2007 and on Sept. 21 doctors performed a lateral release on Tracy's right knee as well as a microfracture procedure. A lateral release involves cutting tight structures to the outside of the kneecap that are causing the kneecap to tilt abnormally. Microfracture surgery is used to restore knee cartilage by creating tiny fractures in the adjacent bones, which causes new cartilage to develop.

A blood clot discovered on Thanksgiving set Tracy's recovery back a bit and he began the season on the disabled list.

After 12 games and 49 at-bats for Tucson in which he hit .306, the D-backs were convinced he was ready to return.

"Really, [Tracy] simulated almost a full Spring Training and that's really what we wanted to see," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said. "He got his reps in at first and third and he's in a position where he's played five days in a row at times, and he's ready to get right back in the swing of things."

Tracy played first and third in Tucson and judging by what Melvin said, it seemed Tracy could end up with more playing time at third with the D-backs. That would seem to make sense given that first baseman Conor Jackson is hitting better than third baseman Mark Reynolds right now.

"Not really sure yet, it's going to be more of a feel," Melvin said of how often Tracy will play. "Conor's going to play. Mark's our third baseman so we'll just see how it goes, we'll see how physically we are from day to day."

Tracy said that while the knee is better, doctors told him he will not be fully recovered until a year and a half after the surgery. Starting and stopping is when it hurts the most.

"It gets a little sore after a game, but once I get it going the next day it's OK," he said. "It's just something I have to deal with for a while. I still can do what I need to do on the baseball field. I'm just going to play, I'm sure there are going to be obstacles that I'm going to face, but I think I'm ready for it."

To make room for Tracy on the roster, the D-backs optioned catcher Robby Hammock to Tucson. Hammock had appeared in just 10 games.

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