Ottavino 'patient, ready' in rehab sessions

Ottavino 'patient, ready' in rehab sessions

DENVER -- Having entered a period of increased bullpen sessions, and with the hope that he'll face hitters later this month, Rockies right-handed relief pitcher Adam Ottavino said he can see a return from last year's Tommy John surgery on the horizon. It still hasn't been determined if he'll return before or after the All-Star break.

"One thing that this process definitely teaches you is patience, so I'm plenty patient, ready for anything to happen or not happen," said Ottavino, who is progressing toward throwing bullpens every other day, then back-to-back days. "I can taste it a little bit. I can see the way the ball's coming out of my hand now, and I feel a lot more like myself."

Ottavino, 30, was installed as the Rockies' closer on April 14, 2015, but threw his last pitch 11 days later. He went 1-0 with three saves and didn't give up a run in 10 appearances covering 10 1/3 innings.

Much of Ottavino's success came from a sharp slider that was a product of an arm with extreme flexibility at the elbow. Ottavino said he isn't sure how much of the flexibility will return, but he already sees good action on his slider. He plans to employ the pitch just as he did before.

"My goal is to get guys out, be the best pitcher I can be," Ottavino said. "I pitched for 20 years before I got hurt. If I get another 20, that would make me 50. So I'm not going to really worry about it. I'm just going to pitch.

"I'm very ambitious in this game. I'm not going to let a little thing like fear get in my way."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.