Shouse returns from DL at right time

Shouse returns from DL at right time

ST. PETERSBURG -- As Brian Shouse privately clamored to push the schedule on his rehabilitation stint so he could return to the mound, the frustration started giving way to understanding.

After more than two months, Shouse is back. And the timing couldn't be better.

Activated off the 15-day disabled list on Monday, Shouse returns to the Rays' bullpen with the Yankees in town for the start of perhaps one of the most important homestands of the season.

"There's nothing like coming back in a big series like this," the 40-year-old said.

Shouse missed 53 games with a left elbow injury that has sidelined him since May 24, spoiling his first season with Tampa Bay -- the sixth Major League club he has pitched for in his 10-year career.

Right-handed reliever Dale Thayer was optioned to Triple-A Durham to make room for Shouse.

After appearing in 69 games with a 2.81 ERA for the Brewers last season, the sidewinding Shouse was 1-1 with a 3.77 ERA in 19 games with the Rays before straining his elbow in an appearance against the Marlins on May 24.

"I feel great. I feel really good," Shouse said. "I'm ready to go. Hopefully, I get used a lot, and I'm productive for the team. I sure don't want to be the guy that messes everything up."

Shouse said he had been trying hard to return more quickly than was possible, and his rehab ended up taking as long as the training staff had prescribed. Though not a stranger to injuries in his career, he said he still had a hard time being shelved for so long.

"Me being the type of person that I am, I was trying to get back quicker and quicker," Shouse said. "The sad thing is, as much as I wanted to be quicker, there was no way it could've been."

Shouse joins Randy Choate in the Rays' bullpen as a sidewinding left-hander, posing an interesting 1-2 punch for opposing teams late in games. The addition of Shouse, with his unnerving delivery, comes at a crucial time for the club, too. Four days ago, sidewinding right-hander Chad Bradford was placed on the 15-day DL with lower back tightness. Furthermore, the Yankees are in town -- a team with several lefty hitters and a propensity to grind out games.

"In crucial moments, you can spot them," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It's nice to have the lefties. Knowing that if you utilize one in the sixth inning, you've got one for the seventh right away."

Nonetheless, Shouse adds another veteran and experienced presence to a bullpen that has been among the best in baseball over the past month.

"It's definitely exciting to be back," Shouse said. "I'm ready to go."

Zach Schonbrun is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.