SAN FRANCISCO -- Merkin Valdez may never make it into another Major League game this season, yet after he took the mound in an empty AT&T Park on Tuesday four hours before the Giants met the D-backs, he was the happiest guy in the clubhouse.
"It's been a long time, and I'm feeling good," Valdez said after his 35-pitch effort in a simulated game. "All my pitches have been working."
Valdez complained of some elbow pain after his May 12 appearance. He went on the 15-day disabled list a few days later with a strained right elbow.
What was supposed to be a two-week rest became a four-month hiatus. The strain had nothing to do with the Tommy John ligament replacement surgery performed on Valdez's right elbow in September 2006. The Giants were committed to playing it safe with the relief pitcher.
Valdez is 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 17 appearances this season. Giants manager Bruce Bochy acknowledged that Valdez will likely play in the Arizona Instructional League, which begins next week, instead of pitching for the Giants.
"I wouldn't rule it completely out," said Bochy, "but it is unlikely he'll be back. He looked good. He showed pretty good command with all his pitches. It was a good outing for him."
It was the first time Valdez faced live hitters since his injury. He didn't pick up a ball for the first two months of his rehab.
Valdez was in a jovial mood when he entered the clubhouse after his appearance. He was singing along with his headphones, made a few dance moves and gave reporters the thumbs-up sign.
Valdez will accompany the team to San Diego, where he will throw a side session before heading for Arizona on Monday.
He'll be joined in Arizona by left-hander Noah Lowry and infielder Kevin Frandsen, among others. Lowry (left forearm surgery) has been on a throwing program for a couple of weeks, and Frandsen (left Achilles rupture) has been participating in pregame drills.
Giants infielder Emmanuel Burriss is also done for the season after suffering an oblique strain, confirmed by an MRI, during Monday night's win over the Diamondbacks.
Burriss remains on schedule to play in the Arizona Fall League.
Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.