Lyon 'throwing well and feeling good'
Astros closer-in-waiting has positive bullpen session
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros right-hander Brandon Lyon admitted Saturday that his recovery from getting a cyst drained in his right shoulder has taken longer than he expected, but he continues to progress steadily and has no reason to believe he won't be ready to go by Opening Day.
Lyon took another step toward pitching in his first Grapefruit League game when he threw a bullpen session Saturday under the watchful eye of pitching coach Brad Arnsberg and head athletic trainer Nate Lucero. Lyon had the cyst drained in January after experiencing weakness in his arm.
He has yet to pitch in a game or even face live batters in the first 15 days of camp, but he could soon.
"It felt like it has been a long process," Lyon said. "I came in here and expected to come back really quickly, and it hasn't come back as quickly as I thought. I've never been in this situation, so I didn't know what to expect. I'm staying mentally sharp and trying to focus on getting strong and better every day."
Lyon threw 30 pitches off a bullpen mound Saturday, pitching exclusively out of the stretch position. He felt no pain and will know what his next course of action will be depending upon how his arm responds on Sunday.
"We'll see how I feel," he said. "That's kind of how I'm going. We'll see how my body reacts to my arm and my shoulder, but I'm having no problems. I'm throwing well and feeling good. I threw 30 pitches today, and [I'm] just progressively trying to get more intensity out there and build up some arm strength. It really went well."
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Lyon was expected to be about 10 days behind his fellow pitchers when camp began, but he's probably fallen off that pace. Still, there are more than four weeks before the start of the season and plenty of chances for him to get into games.
"I don't know how the ball was coming out [Saturday], but I felt like my arm was getting stronger and I was getting a little bit more life on the ball," Lyon said. "I wouldn't say where I'm at, because I don't really know. I'm just concerned how my arm feels and getting my arm strength back and just working every day to get better."
Interestingly, Lyon says he always works out of the stretch position during his bullpen sessions.
"I'll throw from the windup during the season, but right now, most of time you're pitching out of the stretch in big situations so you want to get comfortable in that and get all your chances right there," Lyon said. "All of us pitchers have been pitching in the windup our whole lives, so that will come a little bit easier when I start throwing."
Lyon, who signed a three-year, $15-million contract in December, could be Houston's closer this season. He went 6-5 with a 2.86 ERA in 65 games last year with Detroit, and saved 26 games for Arizona in 2008.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.