Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Niemann ready for minor league rehab assignment
Posted May 30, 2011 by Roger Mooney
Updated May 30, 2011 at 05:51 PM
BY ROGER MOONEY
ST. PETERSBURG Jeff Niemann took a big step Monday afternoon toward returning to the rotation by throwing a 45-pitch simulated game.
“The last bullpen and today was the test,” he said. “We were going full-bore, everything felt great. I think I’m ready to take the next step.”
Niemann, on the disabled list since May 6 with a strained lower back, will soon start a three start minor league rehab assignment that begin with 60 pitches, increase to 70 then top out at 90.
“I started watching him in the bullpen and I liked it a lot out there,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He was throwing the ball good. It was like a normal workout for him in the middle of the season.”
Maddon said he wasn’t sure when Niemann would start the rehab assignment, but it will be timed so he rejoins the rotation five days after that 90-pitch outing with the Durham bulls.
Niemann said he threw mostly fastballs but mixed enough of his off-speed and breaking pitches to know that he can throw them with out any pain.
“I feel good,” he said. “Kind of going through all this stuff from Day 1 when it happened, you kind of know from the moment you get up in the morning what kind of day it’s going to be. That’s been the best thing about these past few days, it hasn’t been an issue. That’s best part feeling great until the moment you go to sleep.”