PORT CHARLOTTE J.P. Howell feels like his old self again after missing a season.
Of course, the Tampa Bay Rays left-handed reliever and ebullient clubhouse presence didnt miss the 2011 campaign he rejoined the team in May and then wobbled down a road marked by inconsistency and intense frustration.
The season he missed was spring. And that contributed to his fall.
Now, for the first time since injuring his shoulder in March 2010, Howell is in camp healthy and exuding optimism. At a time of year when baseball hopes spring eternal, theres even reason to think he might spring back to the deceptive, trick-pitch artist who proved so valuable to the Rays in 2008 and 2009.
I feel great, Howell said. I knew all I needed was just a little time and an offseason to prepare. Thats what I missed last year. I went from rehab to the games, and for guys down the road, its important to make sure you know what youre doing during the rehab, which I did for my shoulder. But also its tough, becau...