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Hellickson in unfamiliar territory this spring

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson had arthroscopic surgery in January to remove loose bodies from his right elbow.

The surgery went well, and Hellickson expects to be back with the team in May, but being on the shelf puts him in an unfamiliar situation this spring.

"I've never really gone through the rehab process or anything I'm doing right now," Hellickson said. "It definitely stinks not being out with the guys. I'm kind of by myself, in here [the clubhouse/weight room] all day.

"I feel great. First few days after surgery I wasn't doing much, but since then, I've felt really, really good. No pain. No soreness. Kind of weak, but feeling great."

When visible and outside of the clubhouse, Hellickson can be seen signing a lot of autographs, but mostly he remains inside grinding away at his recovery.

"I'm doing a lot of conditioning -- legwork and arm exercises," Hellickson said. "Trying to keep everything else up to speed, so when I do start throwing, I'll be able to get started."

He estimated that he will begin some form of throwing in approximately a month.

Hellickson, the 2011 American League Rookie of the Year Award winner, is coming off a rough 2013 season in which he finished 12-10 with a 5.17 ERA, by far the highest of his career. He has never attributed his struggles to any sort of injury, saying he felt fine every time he pitched in a game despite some "normal wear and tear" discomfort throughout the year.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
Read More: Tampa Bay Rays, Jeremy Hellickson