PHOENIX -- A rather battered Oakland pitching corps received a dose of good news Wednesday in the form of a seemingly healthy Justin Duchscherer, who threw three innings of a Minor League intrasquad game and reported he "felt good physically." The right-handed Duchscherer, recovering from a February nerve ablation procedure after missing all of 2009 due to minor elbow surgery and a bout with clinical depression, tossed 45 pitches -- most of which were fastballs with a few cutters and breaking balls making their way in the mix. "I'm on my way back to what I want to do," Duchscherer said. "My command is not terrible. I thought it was pretty good, almost in midseason form."
The next step for Duchscherer, who has yet to make his Cactus League debut, is a potential four-inning stint against the host Mariners on Monday. "I felt sharp enough to where I could be ready for a game," the 31-year-old pitcher said. "That's our goal. It's hard to say, but this is the best I've felt in spring in a long time. There are no setbacks right now. Ever since the procedure, my back feels good, and my elbow feels great -- the best it's felt in years." Duchscherer said he gave up three singles in the three-inning performance, only one of which was hit hard. "They asked who I wanted to face," he said, "and [Anthony] Recker faced me last time, so he came out, and of course he hits an absolute blast off me his first at-bat. "I'm pretty sure I boosted his ego today." Despite being more than a couple of weeks behind the other pitchers, Duchscherer still believes he'll be ready to go come April. He'll attempt to throw four innings or 60 pitches in Monday's game and gradually work up his pitch count in his final two spring starts.
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.