BOSTON -- Injured reliever Joel Hanrahan is optimistic about his chances of pitching at the beginning of next season, but he hasn't given any thought to which team he'll be pitching with.
Hanrahan, who was Boston's closer to start the season, was lost for the year when he underwent Tommy John surgery in May.
Since then he's been rehabbing in Dallas, but the right-hander, who returned to the clubhouse on Tuesday for the first time since the surgery, is still about six weeks from doing any kind of throwing. The first 10 weeks after the surgery went as well as he could have hoped, though, and he thinks he's on track to start throwing off a mound in the spring.
"I hope to be able to throw in some Spring Training games, hopefully," Hanrahan said. "I don't know if that's realistic or not. I'm not a professional at that. The way everything has been going so far, hopefully, I'll be on some sort of mound in Spring Training."
The normal recovery time from Tommy John surgery is about 12 to 16 months.
Hanrahan is eligible to be a free agent after the end of this season, meaning his future is unclear. But whether he'll remain in Boston hasn't even crossed his mind.
"I haven't really even thought about it," he said. "The next thing I'm thinking about is picking that ball up and throwing five feet."
In the meantime, Hanrahan plans to spend more time around the clubhouse. The team has excelled in his absence and had a half-game lead over the Rays in the American League East entering Tuesday's action.
"I just got done talking with [manager] John [Farrell], and I'm going to try to come around a little bit more," he said. "I'm going to go out to Houston, and then kind of work on something like every two weeks, then come back. You know it's been fun to watch these guys. They've been doing a heck of a job. It's fun watching them. A lot of young guys are getting opportunities now, and it's good to see them enjoying it."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Michael Periatt is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.