Catcher Luke Bailey easily throws the ball back to the pitcher, will soon start throwing to bases and eagerly awaits being able to play without reservation in a real minor-league game.
Bailey was Tampa Bay's fourth-round draft pick last year, though he was fresh off Tommy John surgery and wouldn't be able to play until this season.
He said he'll catch three innings at a time through the end of the Rays' extended spring training program before joining a short-season team.
"Then, everything will be back to normal," Bailey said.
On Wednesday, Bailey caught while pitchers did their side work. He said he's feeling good. Bailey was considered one of the top high school catchers available in last year's draft before the surgery and had signed with Auburn. Though he's still waiting to make his pro debut, Bailey ranks 12th on Baseball America's list of Tampa Bay prospects.
"I'm almost back to full strength and I'm about to start throwing to bags," said Bailey, who was relegated to designated hitter in Tampa Bay's fall instructional league.
"It's tough when, right when you get here, you can't show what you can do," Bailey said. "I was excited to be here, but I had to accept facts. What happened happened. There's a reason for everything, you know."