Hellweg heartened by return from Tommy John surgery

Hellweg heartened by return from Tommy John surgery

PHOENIX -- His 100 mph fastball hasn't returned just yet, but Brewers pitching prospect Johnny Hellweg reported to Spring Training liking his chances to mount a full comeback from Tommy John surgery.

"I feel good right now, like I'm right where we should be in the rehab process," said Hellweg, who is 9 1/2 months into a rehabilitation that generally takes about a year. "I have to continue it because I've got a little bit longer to go."

He felt the telltale pop in his right elbow last Easter Sunday and underwent an ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction with Dr. James Andrews on April 27. Hellweg endured a long, lonely, hot summer of rehab at Maryvale Baseball Park and was finally back on a mound in January.

In several weeks, he expects to resume throwing breaking balls. The Brewers still see Hellweg, whom they acquired in July 2012 as part of the Zack Greinke trade, as a starting pitcher and will begin building him up as such when he's ready.

Hellweg expects to be pitching in games by the time the Brewers break camp. Assistant GM Gord Ash said Hellweg will probably remain in extended Spring Training before reporting to advanced Class A Brevard County, a warm-weather affiliate that often serves as a launching pad for rehabbing pitchers.

"It was tough. It was more the mental hurdles," Hellweg said. "As soon as I got over the fact that I was going to be here for nine months, it's a little bit easier to deal with. In the summer, there was nobody here. .. You try to stay sane, doing the same stuff over and over again."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.