Soft-toss no small step in Guzman's rehab

Soft-toss no small step in Guzman's rehab

MESA, Ariz. -- For a few minutes on Wednesday, Cubs pitcher Angel Guzman could play catch.

It was a small step, but also a major accomplishment for the right-hander, who underwent surgery on his shoulder in March. This week, Guzman began playing catch, the first time he's been allowed to throw since the procedure was done.

He's allowed to gently toss the ball to one of the Cubs' athletic trainers three times a week. The first time he started to throw, Guzman didn't hesitate out of fear there might still be pain in his shoulder.

"I'm not scared of throwing," Guzman said. "I've been throwing a baseball my entire life."

The only problem may be holding him back. After his session Monday, Guzman said he felt as if he could've thrown harder and longer.

"That's my 15 minutes of happiness," he said as he came off the field from the light session at Fitch Park.

In early March, Guzman, 28, was diagnosed with a significant tear in a ligament in his right shoulder. He had not thrown off the mound all spring after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. The Venezuelan knows the rehab routine too well. In 2003, he had surgery on his shoulder to repair a small tear in the back of his labrum. In September 2007, he underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

He was finally healthy in 2009, and appeared in a career-high 55 games, compiling a 2.95 ERA. This year, he was projected to handle late-inning relief for the Cubs.

Until he felt something in his shoulder.

Again.

At the end of this week, Guzman and the Cubs medical staff were expected to confer with orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews, who has done all of Guzman's surgeries, to discuss the pitcher's progress and program.

Guzman is certain he'll be ready in February.

"By [Spring Training], my goal is at least be throwing off the mound," he said.

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