ATLANTA -- After experiencing another pain-free bullpen session on Monday afternoon, Braves righty Jair Jurrjens grew excited about the possibility that he could be less than two weeks away from making a Minor League rehab start.
Jurrjens, who has been sidelined since April 29 with a strained left hamstring, will travel with Atlanta to the West Coast later this week to continue his rehab program. If the 24-year-old right-hander proves capable of completing a few more side sessions and a live batting practice session in pain-free fashion, he could make his first rehab start late next week.
"I feel normal," Jurrjens said after Monday's 40-pitch side session. "I just need to get back to getting my conditioning back up and trying to get my location back on my pitches. I've thrown two bullpens in a row with no pain, and I just need to keep building it up right now."
Jurrjens will continue throwing bullpen sessions on an every-other-day basis and also begin to test the strength of his leg with fielding exercises that will require him to push himself while covering first base. Once he completes these hurdles, he will be cleared to make the first of what will be at least two rehab starts.
Even if it is determined that Jurrjens needs to make three rehab starts, it appears he would still be in position to rejoin the rotation before the end of June.
"It would be like making a major trade," manager Bobby Cox said in reference to Jurrjens, who went 14-10 while posting the National League's third-best ERA (2.60) last year.
This has been a tough year for Jurrjens, who went 0-3 with a 6.38 ERA in five starts before suffering the hamstring strain. He reported to Spring Training with inflammation around his right shoulder and then jammed his right hand during an exhibition season at-bat. The latter ailment caused him to have trouble getting a feel for his grip during his first few regular-season starts.