Rupe expects to return before season's end

Pitcher Josh Rupe made seven starts with Triple-A Oklahoma before going down with an injury to his right elbow. Lone Star Dugout updates the status of the 24-year-old hurler, who has been rehabbing at the club's minor league complex in Surprise, Arizona.

After spending his entire 2006 season in the bullpen, right-handed pitcher Josh Rupe returned to the rotation with Triple-A Oklahoma in 2007. Rupe made seven starts, posting a 2-2 record and a 4.69 earned run average.

However, the 24-year-old, who has had troubles staying healthy his entire professional career, was shut down with an elbow injury in mid-May.

"I had bone spurs in the back of my elbow," said Rupe. "The bone spurs were causing an indention in my elbow. They had to bleed the bone, re-shape it, and take some of the scar tissue out."

Rupe also missed time at the beginning of last year with an elbow injury. He is not sure how related the two injures are.

"I had an elbow injury last year," explained Rupe. "It might have been the start of this, I'm not sure. This year it flared up again. I think it was similar, but I don't know if it's the exact same thing."

Though Rupe went under the knife about ten weeks ago – in late May – he is just now able to throw off the mound.

"I'm doing a lot of forearm exercises and stuff like that," said Rupe of his rehab. "I'm doing some shoulder stuff to get my elbow and shoulder strong again. I started throwing off the mound today. My load has lightened up a little bit as far as doing exercises, but now it's more throwing and building my arm strength up."

The Portsmouth, Virginia, native also believes his arm is the healthiest it has been in some time.

"[My arm] feels good," he said. "It feels the best it has in two years. I threw my first bullpen today and it felt really good."

Spending the past couple of seasons bouncing between the starting rotation and bullpen, Rupe says his pain-free arm will help him become a starting pitcher again.

"It's the first time I've had no pain in two years," said Rupe. "My arm is getting stronger and I'm definitely more durable.

"For the end of this year, I'll probably be in the bullpen. Next year I would think I will go back to being a starter."

When Rupe returns to a minor league affiliate – which he estimates will be in about three weeks – he is unsure where he will be assigned.

"I might go to Frisco," he said. "I'm not sure. Sometimes they like to send the rehab guys to Frisco to keep a watch on them because we're close to the big league club."

If Rupe doesn't receive a September callup to the big leagues, he could pitch elsewhere to prove he's healthy.

"Hopefully they call me back up to finish the year in the big leagues," said Rupe. "But if not, I may pitch a little bit in the Arizona Fall League just to get some innings and show them that I'm back."

While he could wind up in Frisco, Oklahoma, or Arlington over the next few weeks, Rupe has spent the majority of his summer in the scorching heat of Arizona.

"It's tough," said Rupe of the heat. "You've definitely got to take it a little bit at a time. It takes some time to get used to it. I don't really like it, but it is something you've got to deal with."

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