Both pitchers underwent Tommy John surgery last year and have been stationed in Arizona all season. They are two days apart in a 60-day throwing program created by A's bullpen coach Ron Romanick, who is taking a cautious approach with them.
"We have to go week to week with them," Romanick said Sunday. "I know it's a competitive thing, an alpha male thing, but we're looking at the end result. They're ready when they're ready. I've told them, there is no such thing as a perfect rehab process."
Devine, reached via phone Saturday, said he "feels great" and insists he is indeed ready to embark on a rehab assignment. He's been throwing a bullpen every four days, with the most recent coming Thursday, when he tossed 30 pitches.
"The best part was I woke up and felt like I could pitch again that day," Devine said.
But Romanick is in no hurry to rush the right-handed reliever, who in 2008 posted a 0.59 ERA in 42 appearances with Oakland. The same goes for Outman, who appeared as both a starter and a reliever with the A's last year, before succumbing to elbow pain in June.
The pitchers are slated to be in Oakland for seven days beginning Friday, but Romanick said only to continue their rehab process since most Arizona action -- notably the club's rookie league team -- will have stopped by then. Devine said it looks like the plan is for them to take their rehab work to Instructional League on Sept. 9.
"I hope to have them throwing live batting practice at 75 percent game speed while they're in Oakland," Romanick said. "We can create that environment the best we can. Really, we can create any kind of environment for them."
Devine and Outman are expected to be involved in a handful of simulated games, with many batters coming from a stash of September callups -- a group which manager Bob Geren assured Sunday has not been decided upon.
"Maybe I'll throw well enough and be activated on the spot," Devine said.
However, Romanick says that's wishful thinking, as he's not about to commit to a return date for either pitcher, no matter how badly they want to be in uniform by season's end.
"It's not about tomorrow, it's about right now," he said. "That's the only way to really let a rehab process work. You can't look at where you think you need to be. You can't look at the calendar or the season. You need to set small goals. I'd like to pitch them tomorrow, but that discussion doesn't do us any good."
"I'm very amazed at this whole process," Devine said. "In '08, they put me on the 60-day DL and I took four weeks off, and then it only took four weeks of throwing until I was ready again. I've pretty much doubled that amount of time and then some.
"Each bullpen session seems to be a step better. I'm throwing with more intensity, commanding all of our pitches. I'd say Outman is too. He threw a bullpen Saturday with batters standing in and looked phenomenal. So if I had my way, I'd already be on a rehab assignment."
Much of that notion, insists Romanick, comes from the mental battle, one which is hard to control in the midst of a year's plus time worth of recovery.
"The ideal situation for me would be to go on a rehab assignment with a Minor League team that makes the playoffs and then finish the season with the big league club," Devine said. "That's my goal, to pack up my locker at the end of the season just like everyone else and start a normal offseason. It's important for me to pitch in the big leagues so I know for certain I'm back at the level I was at in 2008.
"There's still that mental aspect of knowing that I can pitch in the big leagues. It's tough mentally -- it never helps being away from the game I've played since I was 5 years old."
Romanick understands he has to be the captain of Devine and Outman's rehab process, the one who continually pushes them to keep at the process in order to establish a more sustainable routine on a Major League mound for years to come.
"It's hard," he said. "Nobody likes a setback. It's only human nature to want to be ready for tomorrow. If you don't listen to your arm and your body, you're not giving yourself the opportunity to do it the right way. You might return too soon and come out of the shoot feeling great, but then you've got that dead arm feeling.