ST. PETERSBURG -- Kelly Shoppach was back on the basepaths at Tropicana Field on Thursday afternoon, this time taking another important step toward full recovery by sliding into second base.
Shoppach, on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right knee, appeared to be in good condition before the Rays' game against the White Sox, and he said Wednesday that he was feeling anxious to get back on the field. Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said the catcher is progressing well and should be on schedule to start his rehab assignment this weekend or at the beginning of next week, although he did not reveal the specifics of that assignment.
"He seems to be in good order," Maddon said. "Everything looked pretty good. There's been no complaints."
Maddon said the rehab stint will likely be between a week or 10 days, and he is not too concerned with how Shoppach hits. With that in mind, Maddon has not yet decided at what level Shoppach will start. The most important thing to Maddon is the catcher's progression behind the plate.
"He's gonna go probably starting at five [innings]," Maddon said. "We've already talked about that. We're probably going to start him at five then step up from there."
Shoppach will likely catch five innings in his first game, seven in the next and eventually escalate to a full nine-inning game. Maddon said it will be critical that Shoppach be able to be behind the plate on back-to-back nights before returning to the Rays.