Giancarlo Stanton wants to return from his knee injury in time to fine-tune that powerful swing for October.

Sidelined nearly all season, the New York Yankees slugger is hitting indoors and throwing as he rehabs from a sprained right knee that's been slow to heal since he got hurt June 25. The next step will be jogging and running outside before ramping up baseball activities.

General manager Brian Cashman originally targeted August but now says the AL East leaders hope to get Stanton back sometime in September.

"Once I start moving around, just see how it bounces back. But I do want to have a few weeks of at-bats before October, for sure," Stanton said Thursday in his first comments to reporters in a while. "I want to be out there for a couple weeks, just the game routine and having whatever amount of at-bats I can."

The 2017 NL MVP said he's confident he'll return to health this season but has no particular date in mind.

"I'm doing everything I can to get there, so that's what this process is and that's what I'm working for," he explained.

"The deadline is when my knee is ready to play major league games," Stanton added. "So if something happens to that, then I can always get at-bats, non-big league at-bats, but by close to big league pitching, to catch me up if need be. But that is the deadline — not any rush past when my knee is ready."

Stanton strained his left biceps on March 31 in his third game of the season, strained a shoulder and calf during his rehabilitation and returned June 18. He quickly went down again and is batting .290 with one home run and seven RBIs in nine games this year.

The outfielder and designated hitter was transferred to the 60-day injured list Sunday.

"It's been brutal on my side, but it's been really good to see the team playing so well. I mean, that's what's really kept it not so bad for me is just to watch everyone bringing together wins in all different type of ways, not one hero every night," Stanton said. "That's what I've been focusing on. Not poor me, all this stuff. I'm just watching how good we've been playing and just, what strategy for me to come file in. Not to just be back playing, but to get another little boost to what we've already been doing really well."

Despite a cavalcade of injuries to All-Stars and other accomplished players, the streaking Yankees began the day tied for the best record in the majors with the Los Angeles Dodgers at 81-41.

Pointed toward the playoffs, New York held a 10-game lead in the AL East with 40 to play.

"I'm definitely glad to be hitting and moving around. Still got a lot of work to do, but I'm definitely glad for that," Stanton said. "Just waiting on this knee to be full go and then we'll be ready."