McGee making strides in recovery from elbow surgery

Lefty still throwing on flat ground, but expected to be on mound next week

McGee making strides in recovery from elbow surgery

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Jake McGee is feeling good as he ramps up toward the next hurdle on his return from offseason surgery on his left elbow.

McGee, 28, underwent surgery on Dec. 12 to remove loose bodies from his left elbow. He has played catch from 135 feet and is scheduled to play catch on Wednesday, Friday and Monday in advance of playing catch next Tuesday prior to taking the mound for the first time that same day.

McGee hasn't experienced any setbacks during his rehab. Unlike when he had Tommy John surgery in 2008, the recovery from this procedure is a lot different.

"This is a lot easier," McGee said. "I know everything is good with my elbow. With Tommy John [surgery], there are a lot of unknowns."

McGee is not anticipating any problems getting on the mound.

"I've kind of cut loose a little bit already," McGee said.

McGee explained that pitching off a mound is a big step in the rehab process since pitching off a mound "puts more pressure on your arm."

"If you push it hard enough off flat ground, moving to the mound shouldn't be that much of a problem," McGee said. "I think I'll do fine."

McGee expects to begin his first rehab assignment in late April in advance of returning to the team in early May, which would provide a big boost to the bullpen.

McGee served as the Rays' primary closer for the final three and a half months of the 2014 season. He set career highs in saves (19), ERA (1.89), appearances (73) and innings pitched (71 1/3).

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.