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Fossum has no worries about shoulder
Fossum said he expects to be ready by opening day.
By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published March 12, 2007
ST. PETERSBURG - Rays LHP Casey Fossum is ready to make his next step in his recovery from left shoulder surgery six months ago, pitching in a spring game for the first time today against the Tigers.
Fossum is scheduled to pitch just one inning at Progress Energy Park, his first game since the September surgery, but he said he expects to be ready by opening day.
In his most recent work, he threw two live bullpen sessions, throwing about 50 pitches each time, so he has already developed trust in his surgically repaired arm.
"I think my arm status was out of my mind the first time I threw a side," Fossum said. "I haven't been really thinking about my arm, just how it's coming out of my hand, my pitches and how they're breaking and my location, which has been pretty good so far. When you get in that game, it steps it up another intensity level and it's the same when the season starts, so I just need to make sure my arm is responding."
Manager Joe Maddon said he wants to remain cautious with Fossum, continuing to give him extra days off between starts.
Maddon said he will also likely slate Fossum for the back of the rotation to give him more time to recover.
"His work to this point has been great," Maddon said. "The biggest thing is that he would stay in a regular progression from here until April without any setbacks. The number of starts, whether it's five or six or something like that, doesn't matter. ... As long as he keeps meeting his schedule, I'm sure he'll be ready on time.
"We'll be a little bit cautious, but not overly. We just don't want any setbacks because the progress has been so good."
Fossum has been throwing all of his pitches during bullpen sessions at the Naimoli Complex since late last month, so he feels ready and actually stronger than last season.
"It's kind of weird," Fossum said. "I'd just be throwing my side sessions and my body told me I was ready to start throwing my curveball and I felt like I was ready to throw my slider. So it's kind of like riding a bike. ... I feel more fluid and just loose and I feel like I have more whip in my arm than I had last year."
NO SURPRISES: With first cuts coming by the end of the week, Maddon said he doesn't expect to make any unexpected moves in trimming the roster.
"You still need to keep 'X' number of guys around to play in these games," Maddon said. "There is no exact number, but just going over the names there seems to be some obvious choices of guys who need to move along to play on a more consistent basis for their own benefit, too."
That means it is likely the Rays will make cuts from their prospect pool of 3B Evan Longoria, SS Reid Brignac, OF Fernando Perez and 2B Elliot Johnson, sending them to minor-league camp to let them get more playing time. It's also likely that RHPS Jeff Niemann, Mitch Talbot and Andy Sonnanstine will join them to get necessary innings.
MISCELLANY: 3B Akinori Iwamura made a pair of solid plays in the field Sunday, recovering well from a first-inning throwing error. Iwamura was 0-for-3 at the plate. "As he does more of that, his confidence is just going to build," Maddon said. ... Maddon said he has been impressed with RHP Chad Orvella, who allowed two hits with two strikeouts in one inning Sunday. ... With Sunday's loss, the Rays fell to 0-4 against NL teams this spring. ... 3B Joel Guzman drove in the Rays' first run with a ninth-inning double. ... LHP Jon Switzer said he will no longer wear the protective sleeve on his right wrist to protect the area where he took a comebacker Wednesday.