BRADENTON, Fla. - Relief pitcher Octavio Dotel likes to think that he'll be available on Opening Day, but the 36-year-old is in no hurry to get there.
In August 2007, shortly after his trade from the Kansas City Royals to the Atlanta Braves, Dotel was placed on the disabled list because of a strained right shoulder. He attempted to return prematurely and was sidelined for a total of six weeks as a result.
"I learned that when it happened," he recalled. "Now I know. I don't want to rush back."
On Thursday morning, Dotel threw 40 pitches on a mound, including six curveballs and six sliders. The breaking pitches were the first since he pulled a muscle in his left side 18 days earlier. He was scheduled for another bullpen session on Saturday morning.
Barring a setback, Dotel will pitch live batting practice on Monday morning then make an appearance in a Triple A game on Wednesday afternoon.
"If I feel good, then we may change the schedule," Dotel said. "But if I feel OK, then we'll stay with what we got now. Let's see how I feel, and we'll go from there."
Because of a rigorous off-season program, Dotel believes his lack of activity this spring will not pose a significant obstacle in his preparation for the regular season.
Dotel worked out with major league pitchers Francisco Cordero and Pedro Martinez in the Dominican Republic earlier this winter.
"I worked out there hard," Dotel said. "I will be OK."
GOOD FRIDAY: Shortstop Brian Friday doesn't receive the hype of some other highly regarded prospects in the organization, but the former third-round draft pick will have it no other way.
"That's fine by me," he said. "That's more of my personality. I don't want a whole lot of attention. I would prefer to be under the radar."
When Friday hit a long home run against the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte on Monday afternoon, it wasn't lost on team management.
"Brian has had good at-bats here," general manager Neal Huntington said. "Our people are very high on him."
Last season Friday got off to an impressive start at Class AA Altoona before an inner-ear problem set him back physically and mentally. He hit .265 and seven home runs in 110 games.
"Brian fought it off and on for the rest of the season," Huntington said. "He may have been healthy later, but he never got his rhythm and swing and confidence back. That's a tough thing to do many times. But our people were pleased with his approach, mentality and work ethic, and they pushed for him to come to the major league camp."
Friday also has spent time at second base this spring, but he projects to be a shortstop in the future. He and second baseman Shelby Ford are expected to form the double play combination for Class AAA Indianapolis this season.
"I just look to have a consistent year," Friday said. "That's my main focus stay healthy and be consistent. I need to improve in a lot of areas to become the player that I need and want to be. I've got strides to make, but (the coaches) have helped me make some already this spring."
HANRAHAN UPDATE: On Thursday morning, reliever Joel Hanrahan (strained right elbow) threw off flat ground for the first time this spring.
He remained on schedule to throw off a mound on Monday morning.
NEXT . . .: The team was slated to play the Atlanta Braves in Orlando this afternoon (1:05 p.m., Pirates.com) although the early forecast called for an 80 percent chance for rain in the area.
Ross Ohlendorf is scheduled to make his third start this spring. Brian Bass, Chris Jakubauskas, Jeremy Powell and Javier Lopez also are expected to pitch.
Tommy Hanson is listed as the Braves starter.