Jason Schmidt threw off the Dodger Stadium mound.
Ten months into rehabilitation after undergoing career-threatening shoulder surgery, Schmidt graduated from bullpen sessions to a semi-simulated game, facing a few hitters for the first time. Backup catcher Gary Bennett, who caught the first 20 pitches, speculated that Schmidt might have reached 89-mph with his fastball.
The quirky Schmidt declined to speak to reporters afterward, so it was up to interested bystanders to size up how the workout went.
"What we set out to do was accomplished," said trainer Stan Conte. "We were between a bullpen here and a simulated game in Florida, or having hitters stand or swing. Schmidt wanted to throw to hitters, a very positive sign. He got loose quickly and that's a good indication. I'm happy we got to the 70-pitch count. At the times we've had to stop, we've only gotten to about 50. We'll see how he feels tomorrow before deciding what's next."
Schmidt made 20 throws to batters tracking pitches without swinging. He rested four minutes, then made 20 more pitches, with batters Mark Sweeney, Delwyn Young and Bennett swinging occasionally. Schmidt threw fastballs, changeups and mixed in a few sliders and curves. He then went to the bullpen for 30 more pitches.
"The main thing is, I liked the way the ball came out of his hand," said pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. "He wants to throw every ball perfect and he's not there yet. But he had nice arm speed and was free and easy. The hitters said the ball had some hop to it."
Because Schmidt was seemingly making rapid progress until a Spring Training setback, the club remains reluctant to set any timetable for a Minor League rehab assignment. Schmidt made six starts last year, went 1-4 with a 6.31 ERA and underwent surgery on June 20 to repair a labral tear, a frayed biceps tendon and to clean up scarring in the bursa sac.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less