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Ryan's comeback takes another step

Ryan's comeback takes another forward step

NEW YORK -- Roughly 1,300 miles south of Yankee Stadium, B.J. Ryan made his way on to a Florida mound on Wednesday and stared down a handful of Minor League batters.

Ryan thus took another step forward in his comeback from reconstructive surgery on his left elbow with a successful simulated game outing in Dunedin. He would undoubtedly prefer to be with his teammates, sitting inside the visiting bullpen at the ballpark in the Bronx, but the recovering closer is on pace to join the Jays later this month.

Ryan threw 21 pitches to a host of hitters from within Toronto's farm system on Wednesday, and he's scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game on Saturday following two days of rest. If that next outing goes well, Ryan might be ready to transition into a program that puts him on the hill every other day.

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"He felt good," said general manager J.P. Ricciardi, noting that Ryan hit 88 mph on the radar gun in his latest appearance. "We'll see how [his next] one goes, and then we'll see if he can go every other day. The nice thing is, he's feeling good before and he's feeling good after. So we're getting over that hurdle."

That was a problem during Spring Training, when Ryan felt some discomfort in his throwing arm after an outing against the Pirates on March 17. That being the case, the Jays opted to hold him out of games for the remainder of the spring slate. The soreness wasn't related to Ryan's left elbow, but Toronto didn't want to risk further injuring its stopper.

Ryan, who underwent ligament-replacement surgery on May 10, hasn't felt the same level of soreness in the weeks since, and the Jays are confident that he can make a return to the bullpen before the end of April. If everything goes according to plan, Ryan could potentially be activated from the 15-day disabled list in time for Toronto's series against Texas on April 11-13.

Ricciardi preferred not to speculate about a possible return date for Ryan, who saved 38 games and posted a 1.37 ERA in 2006.

"I think by May 1, we'll have him with us," he said.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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