Cesar Carrillo on track with his rehab

Peoria, AZ—When Cesar Carrillo threw a pain-free bullpen in Spring Training, it instantly became one of the highlights. He threw fastballs and changeups – 71 pitches total. By mid-April, Carrillo will add breaking pitches to his rehab process. He remains on target in his return from Tommy John surgery.

You threw 71 pitches late in Spring Training during a bullpen session. How did that feel?

Cesar Carrillo: It felt good. It felt real good. It is a step forward and where I want to be.

It is very exciting. Being hurt since May of last year and even going on before that into the year before that. It is a great feeling to be able to go out there and throw your pitches again – pain-free, like I used to do it.

Last year, you were concerned you might need surgery and it turns out you did. What has the mental process been like for you going through the ups and downs and then surgery?

Cesar Carrillo: It was bad before I had Tommy John, wondering when it was going to pull. It is hard to say. When you are out there and trying to give 110 percent and your body is saying it only wants to go 80. It is not where you want it to be.

It was really rough, especially trying to face Triple-A hitters and trying to get to the big leagues. It is a whole different thing. My body said it was time to get the surgery. It finally pulled and I had to get it done.

How hard is it to not think about lost time and likely being in San Diego last year to help the Padres run towards a playoff berth – had you been healthy?

Cesar Carrillo: I just take it in stride. Maybe it wasn't my time to be up there. That is how I look at life. Maybe it was not my time. Maybe if I was up there something else would happen.

Whenever I get my chance, I will be ready to perform.

What are your expectations for this year, considering you will likely be behind everyone else?

Cesar Carrillo: My expectations this year is to go anywhere they send me and compete and prove I am healthy again. Hopefully, they give me an opportunity to show what I can do.

Is there any worry about the stamina you will have when the season winds down in August because you have been off for so long?

Cesar Carrillo: Maybe, I don't know. I have to take it day-by-day. I do know my arm doesn't hurt and everything is good to go. Knowing that gives me a lot of confidence – knowing some days you might not have it, just like any other day.

How is the command of your pitches? Do you feel like you need to work on the four-seam or two-seam or some other pitch?

Cesar Carrillo: Every time I go out and throw, they come back slowly to my arm and my shoulder starts to feel more and more like it can go out there and stay a little longer. Other than that, it feels great.

I am waiting for that arm speed to get back to where it was. That is what bullpens and workout sessions does – getting back to being ready to perform like you used to be.

Do you put a little bit of a radar gun on your own pitches and wonder if that last pitch was 88 MPH?

Cesar Carrillo: I don't know about that. Right now, the main thing is feeling healthy and being out on the mound – to throw the 71 pitches pain-free, loosely. Not holding back any pitches. My arm angle is still the same. I am not changing anything. That is the main thing right now – until I get into the extended games and start working on everything else.

You were throwing the changeup a lot during bullpen sessions. How has that pitch responded?

Cesar Carrillo: That pitch is coming along real well. It is a feel pitch. It is like riding a bicycle. As you get out there throwing and getting the feel for it, it comes back naturally. You never really forgot how to throw it – the feeling of it coming out of your fingertips and making it look like a fastball.

Have you been throwing any breaking pitches?

Cesar Carrillo: No breaking pitches yet. I think by mid-April I will be throwing them.

I know this Tommy John is a long process and there is no reason to rush it. Rushing it hurts your chances. Staying back a couple of months and being fully healed is worth it. I have already been out so long – a couple more months and hopefully being healthy for the rest of my career. That is more than enough.

Are you working out of the windup and the stretch?

Cesar Carrillo: Yea, I am working out of both. It is a little bit of touch and feel, trying to make everything realistic to what it used to be. But it won't be realistic until that first game and you really crank it up.

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