GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- A few days ago, Indians reliever Joe Smith expressed some doubt about being able to get ready in time for Opening Day. On Wednesday morning, Smith was singing a different tune.
"My goal is still to break camp with the team," said Smith, who has been sidelined for two weeks with a strained abdominal muscle. "Until they tell me I'm not going, I'm going to do all I can to get ready as quick as possible."
Smith's improved spirits came after he played catch for the third consecutive day, building up to a distance of 90 feet. The right-hander will up the distance to more than 100 feet on Thursday and it's possible that he could make his way back on a mound by this weekend.
Smith, who has not pitched in a game since March 9, said that he is not currently feeling any discomfort. If he is able to get back to 100 percent prior to Opening Day, he would have a spot in the bullpen. That said, the Indians will likely maintain a conservative approach with his return.
Last season, Smith went 2-2 with a 3.83 ERA in 53 appearances out of Cleveland's bullpen. He is scheduled to earn $870,000 this season.