Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays to treat recovering reliever J.P. Howell with caution

PORT CHARLOTTE — LHP J.P. Howell looks good, having bulked up 30 pounds to 196, and he feels great, throwing freely at about 80 percent with no issues from his surgically repaired left shoulder.

And as obviously excited as he was to be back with the Rays team after missing all of last season, he also knows he has to be — and the training staff is insisting he be — patient.

So though Howell was hoping to return in late April, his official target is now early to mid May, and he likely won't throw in any spring exhibitions, waiting until April and making minor-league rehab appearances.

"He's doing really well," manager Joe Maddon said. "It's just a matter with this particular surgery to see it all the way through time-wise and really let biology work. So in spite of him feeling really good and chomping at the bit, we're still going to be very careful."

Howell, 27, said he understands but feels he could be ready sooner, and he definitely wants to be back in the majors by the May 19 anniversary of his labrum surgery, with an eye on reclaiming the closer's role. "They're saying calm down and whatever, we've got to build it, build, build it," he said. "I feel like if they want to rush me, they could."

With the added weight to his previously frail frame, Howell should have less strain on his shoulder. He also could have a bit more velocity though, given how he was successful without throwing hard before, Maddon hopes not too much. "This guy has been so deceptive and the ball has great movement, I don't know if more velocity is going to equal any more results or success," he said. "I'm curious. I'll take it with the same kind of movement."

He'll get his first look today, when Howell throws a 30- to 35-pitch bullpen session, no curve balls.

MANNY MOMENT: Let the record show that DH Manny Ramirez arrived at 9:26 a.m. Wednesday, five days earlier than required. He found his way around, talked briefly with Maddon and principal owner Stuart Sternberg and could be back to start working out as soon as today.

"Love it. Absolutely love it," Maddon said. "Definitely makes a statement that he was here today."

CALL OF DUTY: Unexpectedly soft-spoken and laid back off the mound, new RHP Kyle Farnsworth said he, too, was definitely interested in the closer's job.

"It would be good, yes," he said. "I know there's guys here that are capable of doing it also. I'm not that kind of guy who says, 'I want that job.' I'm going to go out there and let the performances speak for themselves."

CRUZ CONTROL: RHP Juan Cruz, a veteran reliever signed to a minor-league contract, is expected in camp by Friday, delayed by visa issues in his native Dominican Republic. He was the only absentee among 38 pitchers and catchers.

MISCELLANY: CF B.J. Upton and non-roster INF/OF Leslie Anderson also reported to camp, making it 13 of the 23 position players in early. … Maddon's opening address focused on the new theme of finding another way to win and defend their division title and how much opportunity there is for players to make an impact. … Among others, Maddon was intrigued by LHP Cesar Cabral, the Rule 5 pick from Boston who hasn't pitched above Class A. "Kind of an interesting fellow," Maddon said. … Also, he had a good first impression of RHP Chris Archer, the top prospect acquired from the Cubs in the Matt Garza trade: "A really bright, well-spoken young man, I really enjoy that part of him."

Tampa Bay Rays to treat recovering reliever J.P. Howell with caution 02/16/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 11:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Ever since the Bucs made Gerald McCoy the third overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, he has struggled to overcome the shadow cast by Pro Bowl defensive tackle Warren Sapp.
  2. HomeTeam 100: Players 41-50


    Bulldog QB Charles Harrison III, (12) during the fourth quarter of the Zephyrhills at Nature Coast High School football game on Friday, 11/11/16.
  3. Lake Tarpon bass tournament still going strong after nearly 40 years (w/video)


    Matt Smith, left, and Gary Muchler, work to bring a large mouth bass into Smith's bass boat with only minutes to spare while fishing off Dolly Bay in Lake Tarpon during the Lake Tarpon Tuesday Night Bass Fishing Tournament on Tuesday (7/18/17). The fish sealed second place for the duo.
  4. Rays series preview: Who are the Orioles?


    After the Rangers swept them over the weekend, the Rays won't have much time to rest, with 14 games scheduled for the next 14 days. The second half of their homestand begins tonight against the Orioles. Here's the information you need to know about Baltimore before the action kicks off.

    Starter Wade Miley has melted down after a hot start.
  5. Sergio Romo celebrates striking out Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers to win Game Four of the Major League Baseball World Series at Comerica Park in 2012.