DENVER -- Rockies right-hander Kip Wells' route back to the mound already has been long in duration. He underwent surgery to remove a blood clot from his hand May 6.
Now he gets to pile up some mileage.
Wells' 60-pitch simulated game went well enough on Saturday that the Rockies are moving his rehab to the next stage. He'll travel with the team to Kansas City early next week to throw a bullpen session, then join Triple-A Colorado Springs in Portland on Thursday for his first injury rehab start. He'll throw 70 pitches.
Wells is scheduled for a start in Tacoma after that and throw 80-85 pitches. If healthy then, he is a candidate to rejoin the Rockies' pitching staff
Saturday's game was comfortable for Wells.
"I'm not holding anything back, but I'm not trying to throw it through a brick wall, either," he said. "We don't have the radar gun up and I don't spend a whole lot of time looking at that.
"As much as anything, it's trying to figure out the changeup, cutter, slider -- the bite on those pitches, and how the swings and non-swings look in accordance of what you think."
The Rockies are confident that Wells is healthy, since the injury did not affect his elbow or shoulder. What isn't certain is Wells' role. Wells has wanted to start since signing a one-year, $3.1 million contract during the offseason but he came out of the bullpen for all but one of his 10 appearances after the injury.
It isn't clear if the Rockies will have an opening in the rotation when Wells is ready. The club wants him ready to start, but can easily shift him to the bullpen if that's what the team needs.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.