Drabek, Hutchison on schedule in recovery

ST. PETERSBURG -- Right-handers Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison remain on schedule in their recovery from Tommy John surgery.

Both pitchers are throwing bullpens and expect to begin facing live hitters in approximately three weeks. The side sessions have taken place without incident and they're currently using all of their pitches.

This marks the second time Drabek is attempting to return from an elbow injury. He previously underwent Tommy John surgery when he was a prospect in the Phillies system, and while that's not exactly encouraging news, it does give him a base of knowledge from which to work.

"With the Phillies the first time I had it, I was actually home for a while just relaxing and letting it somewhat heal," Drabek said. "Here, we were ready to go, cast off, stretching and I think it's helped out a bunch.

"I haven't had a setback yet with my arm, so I'm excited about that."

The Blue Jays have said they don't want either pitcher to return until a full calendar year has gone by since the surgeries. Drabek went under the knife in mid-June, while Hutchison underwent the same procedure in early August.

The recovery time is purposely slow to let the arm gradually build up endurance and limit the possibility of a setback. It can be a frustrating process, but one that each pitcher knows he has to go through on the road back to the Major Leagues.

"You always want to do more, but you know you have to follow the process and do what they tell you to do, because that's what's in your best interest," Hutchison said. "I feel good, which is good, but you also realize that it's the process and you need to follow the process."

Hutchison and Drabek have spent the spring rehabbing alongside left-hander Luis Perez, who also underwent Tommy John surgery last year. Perez had the surgery performed in late July, but appears to be recovering faster than his counterparts.

Part of that is because Perez is a reliever and doesn't need to build up the same type of endurance, but it's another encouraging sign for the Blue Jays' brass.

"Right now, me and Hutch are pretty much on the same schedule," Drabek said. "Luis's on a little different one because he's ahead. So we all stretch together, [practice fielding] together, all that stuff. As far it goes, I throw with Hutch every day. Same day, same bullpen, so it works out nice."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.