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Canseco Ready To Return

A little more than a month since back surgery, Jose Canseco thinks he's ready to come back to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

After batting and running Monday during a simulated game in St. Petersburg, Fla., Canseco hopes to return Friday when the Devil Rays open a homestand against Kansas City.

"Today was the first day I actually did some running," Canseco said. "My legs feel a little wobbly out there because I haven't done that kind of running in probably about a month and a half. But the main concern is seeing how the back holds up under hitting situations, and I hit the ball extremely well. I took a couple of aggressive hacks and hit some balls out of the ballpark, so hopefully I'll be ready to go Friday."

Canseco had surgery July 11 for a ruptured disc in his back. It was originally feared he'd be out for the season.

"I think I was extremely luck that I went into the operation already in pretty good shape, so I think that definitely helped in shortening the recuperation time," Canseco said. "I felt great the next day; as soon as I woke up, the pain was gone."

He first started hitting against a pitching machine two weeks ago and last week took batting practice with Devil Rays manager Larry Rothschild pitching.

"You really don't know how it's going to hold up under such torque as the way I swing the bat," he said. "Right away the pain was gone, so I knew that this was a success there."

Canseco was hitting .276 with 31 homers and 69 RBIs before the operation. He was elected to the AL All-Star team as the designated hitter but could not participate.

"The back is there, the strength is there," he said. "The only way I'll start getting the timing back is in actual game situations. The legs will come. I started running today and will run up until Friday."

Canseco, a "Bash Brother" along with Mark McGwire during their days with the Oakland Athletics, hit his 400th career homer earlier this season is 24th on the career list with 428.

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