ST. PETERSBURG -- After more than a month on the disabled list, Rays catcher Kelly Shoppach is getting anxious to get back on the field.
The catcher said the rehab for his sprained right knee has been going well, and with a potential rehab assignment for Class A Charlotte looming at the beginning of next week, the trainers are running him through the last series of tests before he can get back in the game.
"So far, so good," said Shoppach, who caught a bullpen session and threw from behind the plate before Wednesday night's game against the Red Sox. "[I'm] getting antsy now, because I feel like I'm getting close, but there are still some things I have to go through and test out OK and make sure everything's good to go before I get a chance to get out and play."
Shoppach said there isn't a sure-fire sign for the trainers to know he will be ready to begin his rehab stint, but these exercises are more to ensure that his knee will hold up behind the plate and in the batter's box. He will hit, catch another bullpen session, run the bases and slide on Thursday to continue to put pressure on his knee, which he injured in a collision at the plate against the Yankees on April 10.
"One step at a time, I guess," Shoppach said. "It's like Spring Training again."
Rays manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday that Shoppach will likely be sent to Port Charlotte, Fla., this weekend or Monday, which would line up with the early June return previously set for him.
"I don't know that anybody made a timetable," Shoppach said. "I would love to. I would love to be back six weeks ago."
Regardless of the specific return date, Shoppach is ready to get back on the field -- a feeling that only grows stronger as the moment approaches.
"Now that I'm doing more baseball stuff, I'm actually starting to get a little antsy and want to do a little more, trying to push the envelope a little bit," he said.