PORT CHARLOTTE — LHP Jake McGee’s rehab from offseason elbow surgery has progressed to where he is throwing curveballs while playing catch on flat ground, but he’s still holding back during his bullpen sessions.
The reason: the rehab from his Dec. 12 surgery to remove loose bodies from his pitching elbow has gone well, and McGee knows from experience that pushing himself will only impede his return to the team.
“When I had Tommy John (surgery in 2008), I pushed it too much right around a year and it pushed me back probably two or three weeks, so at the end of the day, it’s better to take it slow,” McGee said. “I’ll probably push a little harder my last two bullpens before I face hitters.”
McGee threw his third bullpen session since his surgery on Tuesday. He said he will throw five more bullpens before facing hitters. McGee said he is still targeting a late April, early May return to the Rays.
“I’m optimistic early May at the latest,” he said.
Manager Kevin Cash, who watched McGee’s 30-pitch session, joked afterward, “I don’t know why he’s not pitching right now.”
Cash said he likes how McGee has progressed through his three bullpens.
“It just comes out easy,” Cash said. “It certainly doesn’t appear like anything is hindering him.”
RHP Ronald Belisario, who fractured his left shoulder a month before reporting to camp, is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Thursday.
Cash has been impressed with the way Belisario has looked since he was cleared.
“I saw him throw off flat ground (three) days ago, and it’s coming out good,” Cash said, “and he kind of said when he came into camp before all that stuff came up that he’s quick. His arm gets in shape quick, and judging by how he threw the other day that’s true.”
Franklin to miss opener
Cash confirmed that INF Nick Franklin will not be ready for Opening Day.
Franklin strained his left oblique Monday morning during batting practice. Given that it can take four to six weeks for an oblique to heal, Franklin’s chances of playing April 6 against the Orioles were dashed as soon as he suffered the injury.
“He will not be ready for Opening Day,” Cash said.
RHP Alex Cobb (forearm tendinitis) had a check-up with team doctors and said it went well. He will begin throwing again when the pain subsides. ... C Bobby Wilson spent his off day catching bullpens for McGee and LHP Bobby Teaford and catching Karns. He also used the day to get some at-bats, getting three against the Orioles Class A team. ... Cash said RHPs Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi will get their pitch counts up to 90 during minor-league games on Saturday. ... INF Logan Forsythe is scheduled to play first base, and OF Brandon Gomes is scheduled to DH and get six or seven at-bats today in minor-league games. .... C Rene Rivera (calf strain) is expected to play today against the Twins. ... General admission tickets are available for Thursday’s game against the visiting Yankees and Saturday’s game against the visiting Red Sox. Tickets in all sections are available for the March 31 game against the visiting Red Sox.