I finally threw a simulated game on Saturday in which I threw 41 pitches. Including warmups, I probably threw 65 pitches. I faced three different batters and I felt good and I felt strong. My command was good and I was able to throw everything for strikes. Now we want to see how I respond before making a decision on what the next step will be.

Unless I have a setback, I feel I'm ready to go. I feel like I can throw any pitch on any count. It feels good. I don't think that the simulated game could have gone any better.

The best way to describe the pain of the rib injury that has sidelined me the first few weeks is that it feels like I got jabbed by an ice pick.

This is the first time I've been sidelined, and it hasn't been fun at all. With an injury like this, you can only do what the trainers tell you. A rib injury really affects the movement of your entire body. That's why, for the first week, we really didn't do anything but rest. Basically, we just iced it to let it begin to heal. Slowly we worked into strengthening the area and getting some more flexibility in the area. That led to playing catch. It's been a really tedious process.

A simulated game is one of the final steps. Facing hitters who are swinging affects your intensity level and your competitive nature begins to take over. You start to air it out. The biggest thing I'm looking for is command. When you pitch at a high level, there's a fine line between pitching and just throwing. I feel like I'm now able to pitch, which is a good thing.

Once I return, it's important that I don't try to force things. Last year, in fact, I don't think I had my first save until the third week of April, so it's not like I've really missed that much, and there wasn't anything I could do about it anyway.

If the club thinks I need a rehab assignment, as a precautionary thing, that would be fine. But I think I'm really close to being ready to go.

All-Star closer J.J. Putz, who has saved 76 games for Seattle over the past two season, was placed on the disabled list on April 2 due to right rib cage inflammation. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander has pitched in two games this season and has one save.