ST. PETERSBURG -- Right-handers Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis continued their rehab from right shoulder strains Monday afternoon by throwing bullpen sessions, and both are on track to return to the Rays next week after going on the disabled list almost two weeks ago.
Pitching coach Jim Hickey said the bullpens went "very well." Niemann threw about 43 pitches while Davis threw 49. Both will throw another side session on Wednesday before progressing to a simulated game Friday in Oakland. After that, Davis is set to start Aug. 24 against the Angels, with Niemann getting the nod the day after.
Hickey reported that Niemann used all of his pitches well and almost at game speed, exactly as he planned to, but Davis might have looked even better Monday.
"They were close, but I think Davis had a little bit more effort and little bit more of a finish on the ball," Hickey said.
Niemann thought he was a little off, though he wasn't surprised by it given the amount of time he's spent on the disabled list, but he still felt no pain in his strained right shoulder.
"I felt great today," Niemann said. "Everything felt great. Every day's been a marked improvement since we've been here, so that's been the best thing about it."
Rays manager Joe Maddon said putting the two right-handers back in the rotation on back-to-back days could create a difficult situation for the team's bullpen, as they likely would not be able to throw as deep into the game as usual, so he would consider spreading them out. The plan for now, however, is to have them pitch on consecutive days against the Angels.
"The way we have it loaded up right now is that we're looking at them both in Anaheim," Maddon said. "I've just got to talk to them and find out. If there needs to be a little gap, and part of the gap could be created by our bullpen issues or situations at that time, they both can be ready back-to-back days. That's potential. But we haven't really got into the heavy discussions of if that's wise or not yet."