ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson threw a 40-pitch bullpen session on Monday and said he expects to make his next start. Hellickson sustained a bruised right shin and was forced to abruptly leave Saturday's 6-2 loss to the Tigers upon being struck by a third-inning line drive just below the knee.
"It's still a little sore, I guess, but it's tolerable, and I threw my bullpen [session] just fine," Hellickson said. "It didn't really affect it at all; it just felt normal."
Hellickson added that with each passing day, his leg feels significantly better, saying his level of discomfort was "night and day" from Sunday to Monday, giving him the belief it will be even better for Thursday's scheduled start against the Indians.
Monday's bullpen session included all of the usual pitches for the righty.
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said he has not heard yet from his training staff about whether it believes Hellickson will be healthy enough to pitch on Thursday.
Hellickson was making his first start since coming off the disabled list when the injury occurred. He left after 2 2/3 innings, having allowed one run on four hits while walking one and striking out one.
"I wasn't too concerned," Hellickson said of the injury. "I knew it didn't get the bone. I knew I was going to be sore, but it was just a bruise. I felt good about being able to come back."
On the season, Hellickson is 4-4 with a 3.44 ERA and 53 strikeouts across 81 innings.