BRADENTON, Fla. -- For a veteran pitcher's first bullpen session of Spring Training, the attention on Wandy Rodriguez was ridiculous. For a guy who had not thrown a Major League pitch since June 5 and was being paid $7.5 million, it made all the sense.
And the left-hander's 28-pitch set on Friday with catcher Tony Sanchez brought him a step closer to resuming his career -- because it brought a smile to his lips.
"After my bullpen, I felt nothing. So I feel very good," Rodriguez said shortly after coming off the mound.
Admittedly, Rodriguez last summer "felt nothing" occasionally while trying to return from the forearm tendon strain he felt in the first inning in Atlanta on June 5. Ultimately, every rehab thrust was thrown to the curb by returning discomfort.
This was different. This followed months of rest, the prescribed cure for what eventually had been diagnosed as arthritis by Dr. James Andrews.
Rodriguez is on a similar, if somewhat more conservative, throwing program as the Pirates' other pitchers in camp. He will have two rest days between bullpen sessions; they rest one day. Rodriguez's next turn comes Monday.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.