ST. PETERSBURG -- Drew Smyly, who began the season on the 15-day disabled list with left shoulder tendinitis, will make his first start Friday night when the Rays host the Blue Jays.
Smyly threw a bullpen session on Tuesday after throwing 3 2/3 innings (68 pitches) Sunday for Double-A Montgomery, his third rehab start. It was unknown if Smyly would need to make a fourth rehab start prior to rejoining the Rays, but given the dire condition of Tampa Bay's rotation, the decision was made to bring him back before he's stretched out.
"I threw 68 [pitches] last start, so I would guess 85-90 this time and I'd go up from there," Smyly said. "But I doubt I'd hit a 100 to start."
Manager Kevin Cash noted that the Rays will have to continue building Smyly back up to where he can throw 100-plus pitches in an outing. Limited pitch count aside, Cash is excited about having Smyly back in the rotation.
"The way he finished up last year, he can be a very good pitcher for us," Cash said. "We're looking forward to it. I think some of the adjustments he made with [pitching coach Jim Hickey] and [bullpen coach] Stan [Boroski] when he came over here in the trade helped him a lot. And I would imagine he'll continue to put those adjustments into play."
Smyly went 3-1 with a 1.50 ERA in five starts in August before going 0-0 with a 2.31 ERA in his final two starts of the season that took place in September.
"It's hard [watching after having success]. It stinks, because the offseason is really long," Smyly said. "Especially when you don't make the playoffs, you just sit around and wait and wait. Then spring comes and you get hurt and you have to wait some more.
"I'm excited. I'm excited about getting the season going. It stinks sitting on the sidelines watching the team perform. I'm just anxious to get out there and get the first start out of the way. ... To me, I felt ready. My arm's ready. ... So hopefully I can help the team any way I can. Whether that's five or six innings, that's great."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.