Fort Myers, Fla. — His pitching line showed two hits in two scoreless innings. But to Bret Saberhagen, it was pretty much a perfect game.
Saberhagen's start against Minnesota on Saturday was the first time the Boston right-hander faced major league hitters since shoulder surgery after the 1999 season.
Saberhagen's threw 21 pitches 13 for strikes and his fastball hit 91 mph in a 6-1 win. He walked none and struck out none.
The outing, he said, was pain-free.
"It really couldn't have gone any better," he said.
Saberhagen, a two-time Cy Young winner, was so encouraged that he said a return to the big league roster in 2-to-3 weeks was "fairly realistic."
Manager Jimy Williams said he was impressed with Saberhagen's velocity, adding, "hopefully, he feels as good tomorrow as he did today."
Pushing too hard was a problem for Saberhagen after his surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. It was the second shoulder reconstruction of his career, but Saberhagen, 36, came to camp last year vowing to return to the rotation.
His arm wasn't ready, and he only got as far as a few rehabilitation starts in the minors.