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May still on track despite move to 60-day DL

Right-hander: No setbacks in return from Tommy John surgery
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Although Twins right-hander Trevor May was placed on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from last March's Tommy John surgery, it doesn't alter his projected return, and he hasn't suffered any setbacks since the operation.

May was targeting a return in late May, and he's now eligible to be activated on May 28, which is only a few days after his original scheduled return date.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Although Twins right-hander Trevor May was placed on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from last March's Tommy John surgery, it doesn't alter his projected return, and he hasn't suffered any setbacks since the operation.

May was targeting a return in late May, and he's now eligible to be activated on May 28, which is only a few days after his original scheduled return date.

"It didn't change anything," May said. "We had a discussion because I wanted to make sure. People assume I had a setback, but there was no setback. The projected time was like three or four days before the 60-day anyways. We're just being a little conservative. It'll come out to about 14 months."

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May, 28, has been throwing three bullpens a week, throwing only fastballs, but he will progress to throwing his changeup next week. He's already been throwing off a mound for five weeks, and he has three more weeks of bullpen sessions before he'll face hitters for the first time since tearing his ulnar collateral ligament on a pitch to Team USA's Andrew McCutchen in an exhibition game on March 8, 2017.

May has already been throwing his changeup off flat ground and has started to work in his breaking pitches from close range, but he is still about two weeks away from throwing them in bullpen sessions.

"I've been throwing changeups the last month and a half," May said. "Changeups haven't been a problem. A couple times from 30 feet I've tried to see what spinning feels like. I think the slider will come back a little bit faster [than the curve]. But fortunately, my changeup has been my best feel pitch anyways location-wise. So with fastball-changeup right away, I have some time to get my breaking ball back."

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May has been encouraged by his bullpens, especially his fastball command, as regaining that control is usually the toughest part in the first year back from surgery. He's also pleased that the back issues that plagued him in 2016 have subsided with changes to his delivery.

"I've continued a lot of the mechanical stuff I worked on last year like slide-stepping and a shorter stride with the back," May said. "I've had no flareups with the back, at all. It's been cleared up. I have a Pilates routine that's helped."

May said there's been soreness on the outside of the elbow, but after talking with pitchers like Kyle Gibson, Zach Duke and J.T. Chargois, who have had the operation, they explained it's a normal part of the process.

"I took it up a notch on Monday and felt some real good soreness but was able to do my drills the next day, so that was good," May said. "After about 18 months is when things get fully back to normal, if not even stronger. That first season you have to work through some stuff."

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May, who has experience as both a starter and a reliever, said he likely would've been ready to return by Opening Day if he was going to pitch out of the bullpen. But getting stretched out to start adds roughly two months to the rehab process.

May knows a rotation spot must be open for him to return once he's healthy and eligible, but he would love to join the Twins for their series in his native Seattle from May 25-27 before returning to action.

"The Seattle series is a pretty apt target date for me," May said. "It'd be great to join the team in Seattle and go home for a few days. It'd be a really nice thing, but of course, a spot has to be open and your role has to be determined at that point. It would be a nice way to end this whole thing. I want to contribute on the field. I'm tired of this stuff. I still have a few months left, but we're getting there."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins, Trevor May