ST. PETERSBURG -- Brian Shouse is close to making a return to the Rays' bullpen.
Shouse, who has a 1-1 record with a 3.77 ERA in 19 games this season, was a dependable option before going on the disabled list on May 25 with a left elbow strain. At age 40, the veteran left-hander has pitched a lot of innings during his career, yet this injury has been the most serious he's faced, putting him in a situation he is not familiar.
"Yes, it has," said Shouse with a chuckle. "I don't like it. I don't want it to happen again. I just aggravated it, and that flared things up and all of that stuff. It just takes time for everything to calm down and get going. Then you just have to kind of start all over again afterward."
Shouse does feel fortunate he hasn't experienced any really serious injuries in the past.
"If I was on the DL before, there either wasn't anything really wrong with me and they needed to do something, or it was just something minor and it was 15 days and that was it," Shouse said.
"I'm definitely anxious to get out there if for no other reason just to see how things go."
Shouse threw off the mound on Tuesday and "threw very well," according to Rays manager Joe Maddon, who said Shouse is scheduled to throw a simulated game at Tropicana Field on Friday before throwing another simulated game next week for either Class A Charlotte or the Rays' extended spring training team.
"And then, after that, evaluate it and get him rolling possibly on a rehab assignment," Maddon said.
Shouse said he's close to being ready.
"Everything feels good," he said. "Arm feels good -- just have to keep going out there."
Shouse believes pitching in the bullpen will allow him to make a quicker return to the team.
"That's the one thing, I'm not starting or anything," Shouse said. "So I don't have to build myself up. I've been playing catch and throwing for some time, so the stamina is there. It's just a matter of going out there and getting control. That's about it. My velocity's going to be there. It's going to be slow."
Shouse's return should make for some tough decisions given the bullpen's sustained excellence over the past month.
"Yeah, no doubt," Maddon said. "Very difficult."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.