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Brandon League throws without shoulder pain, closer to mound return

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Brandon League played catch without pain or discomfort in his right shoulder on Thursday morning, the next step in building toward a return to the mound and a good sign for his chances of being ready by opening day.

League threwds this spring when he felt discomfort he would feel it right away while throwing. His next step will be throwing long toss on Friday.

"If all goes well, I'll be back on a mound Saturday," League said.

After allowing five runs against the Giants on March 9 League reported soreness in his shoulder. After feeling soreness again on Sunday, League got an anti-inflammatory injection in his shoulder on Monday and was shut down for a few days. His playing catch on Thursday was his first activity since the injection.

Despite the setback, League said there is plenty of time for him to be ready for opening day, and even poked fun at his March 9 outing against the Giants.

"You're definitely not on the schedule you're supposed to be on, there's still time," League said. "It's not like I was building up to get in shape. I took 25 pitches to get one out before I got hurt. [laughing] I don't know how much more in shape you can get."

Manager Don Mattingly was a bit more cautious in his diagnosis.

If he can throw today and not have any trouble, that would be the start of it, and we can start extending him into long toss and then the bullpen," Mattingly said. "He still has to clear some hurdles at this point, so he's a little behind schedule."

League also missed three weeks in spring training last season with a strained lat, but was able to be ready in time for the club's domestic opening day.

"Nobody remembers I was hurt for three weeks last year. Anytime you can't go on the field and do what you're supposed to be doing it can be frustrating. But if there is a time for this to happen, this is the time for it to happen," League said. "It's easier for relievers to get back on track."