Smyly to pitch in Minors game Thursday

Lefty scheduled to toss two innings in rehab start

Smyly to pitch in Minors game Thursday

ST. PETERSBURG -- Drew Smyly will take a significant step on Thursday night when he starts for the Class A Advanced Charlotte Stone Crabs in their Florida State League opener at Charlotte Sports Park.

Smyly reported to camp in February penciled in to start the season as the team's No. 3 starter. Unfortunately for Smyly -- and the Rays -- he experienced a sore left shoulder that was diagnosed as tendinitis. He has been working toward making his return since, and that means getting built up like any starter does during Spring Training. He will pitch two innings Thursday night.

Rays manager Kevin Cash said Monday that the team wants to get him back as soon as possible, which might mean bringing him back once he's built up to handle 75 pitches.

Smyly was asked about that possibility on Tuesday.

"I want to get back as soon as possible," Smyly said. "But right now, it's just one game at a time. I have to feel confident and ready to face Major League hitters. Can't just jump in there. [Otherwise] I don't know if I'll do the team that much good. But I'm hoping to do that as soon as I can."

Smyly believes he'll know a lot more about his progress following Thursday's outing.

"Yeah. I haven't even thrown a game yet," Smyly said. "When I get out there and face hitters, see how I'm competing with my pitches, I'll know a lot more. But right now, I can't really say."

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