Reliever Howell on track to return to bullpen

Reliever Howell on track to return to bullpen

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- J.P. Howell feels like he's on track to return to the Rays' bullpen, as he just has to go through the final steps to complete his comeback from left-shoulder surgery.

Howell said he will go back to St. Petersburg with the team, which he sounded excited about.

"So I get to stay with them while we're home," Howell said. "When I start pitching in real games, I'll start out here and commute. Go back and forth, so I'll always be with the team, which is important to me."

Howell said he feels strong, and that he just needs to get into some games.

"I'm ready," Howell said. "... I've got to get in my 10 games. I've got to throw these bullpens. They pretty much want me to master everything. I feel like I'm pretty much there. I just have to follow the steps and the timeline. They say when you start feeling good you should wait a little bit. And that's what we're doing."

Howell said he has thrown all of his pitches.

"I'm full go," Howell said.

Howell figures to be pitching in Minor League games by mid-April and he's optimistic that he can be back in the Major Leagues by May 1.