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07/29/09 7:37 PM ET

Bradford's back improving by the day

Reliever may need more than 15 days on DL to be ready

ST. PETERSBURG -- Chad Bradford is feeling better.

On July 22 in Chicago, Bradford, 34, experienced tightness in his back while warming up on the mound in the seventh inning of the Rays' 4-3 loss to the White Sox. Tampa Bay put Bradford on the 15-day disabled list the next day.

"I'm feeling a lot better than I did in Chicago," Bradford said. "The past two or three days have been a lot better. Today, I was able to play a little catch and move around. [I] felt pretty good."

Over 11 appearances this season, Bradford is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA. After spending the first 75 games of the season on the DL while recovering from right elbow surgery, he rejoined the team on June 27. The 12-year veteran has appeared in 60 or more games in six of the past seven seasons and owns a career 3.23 ERA. He has pitched in seven postseasons, compiling an 0.39 ERA.

Initially, Bradford experienced enough pain that he had trouble sleeping, but he said he is past that.

Back woes are nothing new for Bradford, who had surgery in March 2007 to correct a lower back problem.

"When [a back problem] first crops up, sometimes you're not sure," Bradford said. "But after a couple of days, you can kind of tell. I think this was just spasms. I don't know why they come about. It just happens. I'm just glad it's not anything more serious.

"In the past, when I've had major problems, had surgery, five or six days into it, it's still just as bad as it was Day 1. This is definitely better than that. Like I said, [I] played catch today, and hopefully in a few days, I will have progressed to maybe throwing to a catcher or something."

Bradford said there's a chance he could be back with Tampa Bay once his 15 days are up, but that's not likely to happen due to the cautious nature of such problems.

"Now that I'm on it, we want to make sure everything is good and ready to go and solid and everything," Bradford said. "I guess there will be a chance, but I don't think we'll try to make it a 15-day thing just to meet it. I want to make sure I'm ready, and I'm sure I'll pitch in a game or two somewhere."

Manager Joe Maddon echoed the idea that the Rays will make certain Bradford is good and healthy by the time he returns.

"He's going to be really big for us as we move this thing forward," Maddon said. "It was unfortunate how it happened. But talking to him the last couple of days, he told me that it's starting to feel looser. I watch him walking around, I can see that.

"I think we're getting to the point now where I'm going to hear from [head athletic trainer] Ronnie [Porterfield] that this is how we're going to get his throwing back going. And if we think he needs to go out and pitch a game or two, we'll start figuring that out relatively soon."

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