ST. PETERSBURG -- Devon Travis made his long-awaited return to the field on Friday afternoon by taking five at-bats in an extended spring training game.
Travis did not play second base, but he expects to take that next step at some point next week. It's still not clear when Travis would begin an official rehab assignment, but he's on the right track.
The 25-year-old Travis has been out since July 2015 because of lingering left shoulder issues that eventually required offseason surgery. The ensuing rehab kept Travis out of action all spring, but he's finally ready to increase his workload.
"It was like Opening Day for me, first day on the field hitting live pitching during the game," Travis said. "It was awesome. I feel great. I feel really good. I feel strong when I'm playing. After, it gets a little tired. But that's like anything else when you first start hitting. I feel really good, though. I come in every single day, and I haven't complained in a long time."
Travis remains the organization's long-term second baseman, but how much he will be able to contribute this season remains to be seen. Ryan Goins is the current starter at second and will likely hold on to that position until Travis proves he is fully healthy.
The first step for Travis is going through extended spring training. From there, he'll progress through the Minor Leagues. The timing of his arrival in Toronto will depend entirely on how he performs with the bat and the glove during that span.
There's a chance Travis will be ready for a promotion at the end of the rehab assignment, but if he needs more time to get his timing and mechanics back at the plate, he also could be optioned to the Minors. Patience is key because until recently, he had not swung a bat in almost eight months.
For now, the expectations of what lies ahead will be brushed aside. The most important thing is that Travis is on the road to recovery. There was a time when he was wondering if that would ever be the case.
"There was a day in about mid-March that I lifted my arm over my head for the first time," Travis said of his turning point. "I was like, 'All right, this thing is going to work again.' It has been a tough process. I couldn't grab a cup out of the cabinet to get a drink of water. Out of surgery, I couldn't move my arm for two months.
"Another month and a half after that, I still couldn't lift my arm over my head. It was a tough process, but I'm just so thankful to have a working arm again and to be back on the field."