ST. PETERSBURG -- Left-hander Drew Smyly is happy to be healthy.
Smyly recorded just 12 starts during the 2015 season due to left shoulder injuries. He began the season on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis, returned on April 24 and made three starts before landing back on the DL with left shoulder soreness on May 9. Rather than undergo surgery for a tear in his left labrum, Smyly rehabbed it and returned for good on Aug. 16.
"Last year was tough on me in a lot of ways," Smyly said. "But to overcome [what I did] and come back strong and perform well like I did in September definitely helped going into the offseason to reassure [myself] that I'm OK. To keep getting better, keep getting stronger [and] put it all into this year.
"I feel good. I'm excited to get the season going. It's a new year. Very optimistic. I feel like I put in a lot of work this offseason and put myself in [a] position to succeed. Now it's just go out there and perform and let everything else take care of itself."
Smyly finished the season 5-2 with a 3.11 ERA. Since joining the Rays via a July 31, 2014, trade with the Tigers, Smyly has gone 8-3 with a 2.52 ERA in 19 starts for Tampa Bay.
The 26-year-old southpaw worked hard over the offseason to do everything he could to prevent another injury-plagued campaign.
"I just got a lot of shoulder care, rehab, strengthening program," Smyly said. "... I just stuck to that. Tried to get my core strong and focused on making my shoulder as healthy as it can be and just try to come into spring healthy and ready to go."
Like a lot of players inside the Rays clubhouse, Smyly is optimistic about this year's team.
"We had tons of injuries last year," Smyly said. "... It was a tough year for the Rays and we still played right at .500, so I think everyone is optimistic. I think if our pitching stays healthy, we'll be right there at the end with the best."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.