Isringhausen has solid workout
Rays manager Maddon, pitching coach Hickey like what they see
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Newly signed Jason Isringhausen opened the eyes of Rays manager Joe Maddon during Monday's workout.
"[He] looked pretty good," Maddon said. "I thought he was pretty firm today. I thought he threw the ball well and he felt pretty good about himself. It was kind of nice to watch."
Isringhausen, 36, is a veteran of 13 Major League seasons, including the past seven with the Cardinals. In 2008, he endured two trips to the disabled list, which limited him to 42 appearances and 12 saves, his lowest total since converting to closer in 1999. Isringhausen's season ended on Aug. 16 due to right elbow tendinitis and a partial tear of his flexor tendon, which was repaired in a Sept. 12 procedure. He also missed 26 games with a right hand laceration.
"I don't want to push it, so whenever they say he's ready to roll, we'll put him out there," Maddon said. "But I just know today, he threw his fastball, he threw his curveball, his changeup. I think he threw a couple of sliders or cutters, but he was totally unencumbered. He threw the ball well, it was hitting the glove and he had a lot of pop on the ball. [It was] kind of nice to see."
If Isringhausen is healthy enough, he's a good candidate to claim one of the available bullpen spots, and, based on his background, could even be a candidate to close.
"I was pretty encouraged by what I saw today," Maddon said. "I know he's working his butt off already, and all I've heard is how hard he works. And he goes out there and I have no real base to compare it to, but I just liked what I saw today."
Isringhausen was joined by fellow reliever Troy Percival on Monday.
Percival, who is coming back from December back surgery, threw 28 to 30 pitches, while Isringhausen threw approximately 35, according to pitching coach Jim Hickey. Hickey said both veteran relievers are on a schedule that will have two days off before they pitch another bullpen session.
"Just not too much too soon," Hickey said.
Hickey seemed most excited about seeing Jake McGee throw Monday.
The left-handed pitching prospect made 15 starts for Double-A Montgomery in 2008 before tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. Dr. James Andrews performed season-ending Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery on July 8. McGee is expected to miss a portion of the '09 season as he recovers.
"McGee looked really good," Hickey said. "That was exciting, especially when a guy puts so much work and effort and time into it. The ball came out of his hand tremendously. He was exciting before, but this is a whole different thing now."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.