ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson said he would try to throw curveballs off the mound by Friday in his continued recovery from arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow.
Hellickson, out since the January procedure, threw a successful 40-pitch bullpen session Saturday that included a mix of fastballs and change-ups. He also threw about five or six curveballs on flat ground.
"There’s a sense of urgency to get back out there," Hellickson said Sunday, before the Rays closed a three-game series with the Cleveland Indians at Tropicana Field. "But there’s no point in me going out there at 90 percent. You can’t help the team that way."
Hellickson said he planned to play catch Sunday and Monday with another bullpen session coming Tuesday that will include fastballs and change-ups. He said there’s a possibility that he could throw at least 10 curveballs on flat ground after the Tuesday session, with a target of throwing curveballs off a mound by Friday.
Hellickson said he felt normal soreness Sunday after the most recent bullpen session, the fifth in his recovery process. The progress pleased him.
"I feel great today," said Hellickson, who was 12-10 with a 5.17 ERA last season. "So that’s a huge step."
Hellickson will not travel with the Rays on their upcoming seven-game road trip against the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels.
CESAR RAMOS RETURNS WEST
Left-hander Cesar Ramos is eager to return to the West Coast to pitch before friends and family. A Los Angeles native, he’s scheduled to throw Monday against the Mariners and Saturday against the Angels.
Ramos is coming off a career-best 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Baltimore Orioles last Wednesday at Tropicana Field. The former long reliever said he has gained comfort within the rotation, and he enters the road trip with a 2.38 ERA in 11 1/3 innings throughout three appearances in May.
"It’s huge to try to help out the team and fill in what (left-hander) Matt (Moore) was doing before and just do that the best I can," Ramos said.
The appearance in Anaheim, California, will hold sentimental value for Ramos. The Long Beach State product expects many friends and family to see him make a start in person for the first time since he did so for the San Diego Padres in 2009.
"Any time I’m in SoCal, you never know who’s going to pop in from the hometown," Ramos said.
RARE "QUICK" GAME
The Rays’ 7-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Saturday at Tropicana Field was played in three hours, three minutes — Tampa Bay’s shortest game since a two-hour, 55-minute contest against the Chicago White Sox on April 27.
Since that game in Chicago, the Rays had played 12 consecutive games longer than three hours. Leading into Sunday, 28 of the Rays’ 37 games had lasted at least three hours. Fourteen had lasted at least 3 1/2 hours and five had gone four hours.
The Rays prepared to sport a retro look on their trip to Seattle. A Woodstock theme was the team’s choice for its 30th themed road trip since manager Joe Maddon began the idea in 2008.
Woodstock, held Aug. 15-18, 1969 on a farm in White Lake, New York, grew into one of the most popular music festivals of the past century and included artists such as Richie Havens and Jimi Hendrix.
Many players planned to play along with groovy attire — "Hopefully, I brought my ‘A’ game," Ramos said — but none could top Maddon’s look that appeared lifted from a hippie-era closet.
Right-hander Jake Odorizzi, a native of Highland, Illinois, just east of St. Louis, said he approved of the St. Louis Rams selecting Michael Sam in the seventh round of the NFL draft of Saturday. Sam, a Missouri product, is the NFL’s first openly gay player to be drafted. … Right-hander Alex Cobb (left oblique strain) will throw a simulated game Monday afternoon to players in extended spring training in Port Charlotte. If that goes well, he will make a rehab start Saturday for High-A Charlotte against Clearwater. … Many Rays and Indians players used special pink bats in honor of Mother’s Day.