"He said yesterday that he felt like pitching in a game," Blue Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg said on Friday. "That was a wonderful thing to hear. We're still going to kind of guard him -- mostly against himself. He's such a gamer that I know he wants to get out there."
Ryan threw 30 pitches during a bullpen session at Knology Park in Dunedin, Fla., on Friday -- one day after the Blue Jays announced that they were keeping the pitcher out of Grapefruit League games for the time being. Following his one-inning outing against the Pirates on Monday, Ryan complained of minor soreness in his left forearm and biceps.
Ryan said that the discomfort was not related to his left elbow, which was the source of the closer's Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on May 10 last season. Even though the soreness wasn't located in Ryan's elbow, the Blue Jays' medical staff wants to make sure he can get to a point where he's pain-free after appearances.
If that means that Ryan doesn't rejoin Toronto's bullpen in time for Opening Day, that's a sacrifice the club is willing to make. The Blue Jays don't want to put Ryan back into the closer's job until the 32-year-old pitcher is able to serve a regular role. Even Ryan has said that he wouldn't feel right heading north with the team if he couldn't at least pitch every other day.
"The thing that you really want to detour from," Arnsberg said, "is that you push him to break camp with you and then two weeks later he's on the shelf, because we have pushed. Then it's a two-week shut down, then it's a two-week throwing program, and another couple weeks on rehabs and everything else.
Arnsberg added that Ryan would likely meet with Dr. Timothy Kremchek, who performed the pitcher's surgery, within the next couple days to review the closer's throwing program and health. Ryan is scheduled to take the next two days off and, barring any setbacks, he could potentially appear in Monday's exhibition game against the Reds.
Arnsberg was quick to point out that Toronto doesn't have a game tentatively circled for Ryan's next outing, though. First things first, the Jays want to make sure Ryan -- signed to a five-year, $47 million contract prior to the 2006 season -- doesn't feel any soreness on Saturday.
"If it tames itself down tomorrow," Arnsberg said, "I think we're on the right road. Hopefully, he'll come in tomorrow and not have any flare up at all. ... Again, this guy is four or five months ahead of schedule as it is. So we just want to do this the right way and always guard cautiously."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.