McGee set to return to mound on Tuesday

Rays closer underwent left elbow surgery Dec. 12

McGee set to return to mound on Tuesday

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Jake McGee is looking forward to Tuesday. Having followed months of rehab protocol after left elbow surgery, the Rays' reliever will take the mound for the first time to throw a bullpen at the Charlotte Sports Complex in Port Charlotte, Fla.

"I'm pretty excited about it," said McGee, who claims he has not experienced any setbacks throughout the rehab process. "Because last week I was [throwing from] up to about 135 feet. I was able to carry the ball on a line.

"I feel like my arm strength is pretty close to where it needs to be. And [head athletic trainer] Ron [Porterfield] was saying, 'If you can carry the ball at 130 feet, your arm's kind of ready to go on the mound.' So [it's] pretty exciting. Another step."

McGee, 28, underwent surgery on Dec. 12 to remove loose bodies from his left elbow. He is scheduled to play catch on Monday in advance of his first bullpen on Tuesday.

McGee out to start 2015

If all continues to go well, he expects to begin his first rehab assignment in mid-April before returning to the team in early May, which would provide a big boost to the bullpen.

"Obviously, what he does for the bullpen is incredible," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "So the quicker he's back and helping us win ballgames, the better it is."

McGee served as the Rays' primary closer for the final three and a half months of the 2014 season. He led the Rays' bullpen and 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.