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03/15/10 12:45 PM EST

Dotel takes next step in oblique rehab

Closer feels good after live BP; Minors game likely Thursday

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pirates closer Octavio Dotel took the McKechnie Field mound on Monday morning to throw 25 pitches of live batting practice. The session was Dotel's latest step forward after a left oblique strain sidelined the right-hander early in camp.

After throwing his final pitch to third baseman Pedro Alvarez, Dotel was all smiles.

"Good," the closer said. "Everything feels good."

Dotel's next step is to pitch in a Minor League game, which he said he expects to do on Thursday. Assuming there are no setbacks there, Dotel will then likely make his Grapefruit League debut over the weekend.

Such a timetable will mean that Dotel can get approximately eight Spring Training innings under his belt before Opening Day on April 5 against the Dodgers. That's less than the 10-15 innings that Dotel initially said he wanted to prepare for the regular season.

However, despite the reduced innings load, Dotel remains on track to be ready for the opener.

"Eight isn't the best, but it'll be OK," Dotel said. "If everything goes fine like today and if I feel fine like today, yes, I will be available for Opening Day."

Fellow reliever Joel Hanrahan also took the mound on Monday, though Hanrahan did so to throw a 30-pitch side session on the McKechnie Field bullpen mound. It marked the first time that Hanrahan had thrown off the mound since Spring Training began.

He was shut down in early February with a right elbow strain, but had begun throwing long toss again on March 3. Hanrahan gave a thumbs up after Monday's bullpen session and said he is scheduled to throw another one on Wednesday.

Though Hanrahan is on track to eventually pitch in Grapefruit League games this spring, he is still not expected to be ready to join the Pirates for the start of the season.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.