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Months after surgery, Fossum's sessions going well

By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published February 18, 2007


ST. PETERSBURG - For the past month, left-hander Casey Fossum has made the Naimoli Complex a second home, rehabilitating his healing left shoulder five times a week.

After his fourth bullpen session since arthroscopic surgery in September, Fossum came out of the first workout for pitchers and catchers Saturday confident he will be healthy in time for the opening of the season.

"I feel like right now if I keep progressing the way I am, I should be ready," Fossum said. "That's not to say there couldn't be a little setback. But if everything goes perfect, then I should be right on schedule. I feel like I'm ready, but I've still got to take it slow. We've got plenty of time."

Fossum, 29, said he threw 26 pitches - fellow pitchers threw just a few more - including a few breaking balls.

"If I would have seen Casey Fossum throw the ball today and not knowing his history, I would not have had any idea whatsoever he was injured," new pitching coach Jim Hickey said. "The ball came out of his hand extremely clean, nice and crisp. He didn't throw extremely hard, but he threw very clean."

If there is no soreness today, Fossum said he will likely resume bullpen sessions on alternating days. Manager Joe Maddon said there is no rush, and the team would likely place him at the end of the rotation to give him more time.

"We're just conditioning my arm right now," Fossum said. "I've been bouncing back really good. We just want to continue at that pace. I wish I could sit there and work on stuff in the bullpen but I feel like right now my location is like I've been throwing a midseason bullpen session anyway."

Fossum, 6-6 with a 5.33 ERA in a team-high 25 starts before being removed from his last start Aug. 29, said he is throwing 120 feet with ease, which he couldn't do at the end of last season.

"When you first come off surgery, the first thing you worry about is how your arm is going to feel," he added. "I think I was definitely past that my first bullpen, so now it's just a matter of keeping it feeling good and conditioning it and then I'll start working on fine-tuning. ... As far as armwise, I don't know how I compare to everyone else, but bullpen-wise, I'm a couple bullpens behind everybody."

KAZMIR THROWS: Scott Kazmir, the 23-year-old left-hander who was limited to five second-half starts because of shoulder soreness, said he "felt great" after his first bullpen session. His only problem, he said, was holding back.

"I'm just pacing myself right now, just gradually progressing," Kazmir said. "It's kind of at the point where you want to test it out, you want you throw it just as hard as you can, but this is not the time to do it, on Day 1 of spring training."

MISCELLANY: Outfielder Fernando Perez was among the position players who arrived early for workouts. ... Pitchers Juan Salas and Tony Peguero, delayed in the Dominican Republic with visa issues, were the only ones among the 35 pitchers and catchers who did not work out.

Eduardo A. Encina can be reached at eencina@sptimes.com.