Milone throws bullpen session with no issues

Left-hander could be available to pitch in relief Monday

Milone throws bullpen session with no issues

DETROIT -- Left-hander Tommy Milone, who has been sidelined since Sept. 17 with left shoulder fatigue, threw a 35-pitch bullpen session without any issues on Saturday and could return in a relief role as soon as Monday.

Milone had been dealing with shoulder discomfort since leaving his start against the Angels after just 1 1/3 innings on Sept. 17, but he was pleased with the way the session went on Saturday.

"I felt really good," Milone said. "I felt fresh. Everything felt normal, so it was obviously a good sign."

Milone threw in front of pitching coach Neil Allen, who told Twins manager Paul Molitor he was encouraged by what he saw.

"He went out early, and Neil told me he let it go for the first time, really," Molitor said. "He was able to hit his spots. I think for the first time since he came out of that last game, we feel like he's very close to pitching in a game. We just have to make sure he's OK tomorrow, and if there's no setback, we'll try to get him out in the bullpen on Monday."

Milone has pitched in relief just once this season -- he earned a save while working a scoreless inning in a win in extra innings against the Orioles on Aug. 23 -- while making 21 starts. But Molitor said he expects to use Milone in relief, as he'll stick with his current five starters. Ervin Santana starts the series finale in Detroit on Sunday, and he will be followed by Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson, Mike Pelfrey and Tyler Duffey in Cleveland.

"We're pretty much slotted," Molitor said. "The guys in Cleveland, I don't think we're going to change that, at least in the short term. We'll see how these games go, but for now, I think he'll be out there [in the bullpen] through at least the Cleveland series."

Milone, though, said he still believes he's stretched out to start, if needed, and said he's open to whatever role the Twins have for him now that he's healthy.

"If [starting] is needed, then yeah, but I think right now it's trying to figure out where to put me and get me into a game," Milone said. "I'm willing to do whatever they want."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.