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Recovering Pelfrey appears to be ahead of schedule

Recovering Pelfrey appears to be ahead of schedule

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Considering he's only a few days removed from his 10-month anniversary of undergoing Tommy John surgery, Mike Pelfrey isn't worried about results at this point in Spring Training.

But Pelfrey, who underwent the operation on May 1, pitched well against the Rays on Sunday, tossing three scoreless innings. The right-hander gave up just one hit -- a double to Evan Longoria -- and a walk while throwing 39 pitches with 24 going for strikes.

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He credited pitching coach Rick Anderson for fixing his mechanics, as he fared better than his first outing when he gave up three runs on five hits against the Blue Jays on Tuesday.

"It was better," Pelfrey said. "The only thing I changed was yesterday with Andy. We did a little drill off the back of the mound because I hadn't really been finishing or getting full extension. So I made a little adjustment and I think it made all the difference in the world. I had a lot of movement today."

Pelfrey explained that movement is important for him because he's been a groundball pitcher throughout his career with the Mets and has never been regarded as a strikeout pitcher in the big leagues.

"The ball movement is huge for me because my biggest pitch is my sinker," Pelfrey said. "And if it's flat, it's going to get hit."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire liked what he saw from Pelfrey, who kept the ball down in the zone, but also said he's more concerned with how Pelfrey feels with four weeks to go before Opening Day than how he performed.

"I'm not too worried about results," Gardenhire said. "I'm worried about him going out there and finding his release point, and health. Making sure he gets through everything. But he's doing great."

Pelfrey is ahead of schedule in his rehab, and if all continues to go to plan, he'll be pitching in big league games only 11 months after having his ulnar collateral ligament replaced.

Most pitchers take about 12 months -- and some even as long as 18 months -- to fully recover from the surgery. Twins prospect Kyle Gibson took the normal 12 months before he was able to pitch in a full game and said he's been amazed by Pelfrey's progress.

"He said he was ready to go after nine months," Gibson said. "My recovery was more normal. I was just getting back on the mound after nine months." Pelfrey said he's aware he's ahead of schedule and it came because he threw on weekends during his rehab process instead of taking time off. He said he was worried he was pushing it, but Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery, signed off on the rehab program as long as he didn't feel any discomfort.

"I don't know where this would be on that [normal] timetable, but throughout the process my goal has been to be ready for Opening Day," Pelfrey said. "I've busted my butt and I don't see any reason why it won't happen for me."

Gardenhire, along with Anderson, has monitored Pelfrey closely this spring and said his quick recovery time isn't a surprise because of his work ethic.

"He's a big, strong guy," Gardenhire said. "He knows what he's doing, and that helps. He puts in the effort. You always have to have the person that, when you're going through this, will put in the effort. Everybody can tell you what to do and you follow a program, but this guy, he gets after it pretty good."

So for now, Pelfrey has his eye on being ready for the regular season and has been happy with the way he's been feeling so far in Spring Training, especially on Sunday.

"It's always good to walk off with good results, but at the end of the day, I walked off the field and felt good," Pelfrey said. "And at this stage, that's the biggest thing."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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