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03/02/11 2:09 PM EST

Hellickson progressing on schedule

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson continues to make positive strides in his attempt to return from a right hamstring issue.

Hellickson felt fine after throwing a 35-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday and the Rays have now set a timetable for his return. He will throw another bullpen session on Thursday and is then scheduled to pitch two sessions against live hitters.

After that point, Hellickson is expected to be able to make his Grapefruit League debut. The delayed start to Spring Training is not expected to affect his status for the start of the regular season, and the 23-year-old likely will begin the year as the club's No. 5 starter.

Hellickson impressed the Rays brass last season when he was called up in early August. The native of Iowa went 4-0 with a 3.47 ERA in 10 appearances, including four starts.

Also on the injury front, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said outfielder Sam Fuld and Elliot Johnson will be out of action for the next few days. Fuld has a right elbow injury; Johnson is experiencing soreness in his left quadriceps muscle. The club decided to rest the pair for precautionary reasons, and neither injury is considered serious.

Brignac bulkier this spring

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Reid Brignac came into camp 10 pounds heavier than his 2010 weight to help him get through the rigors of playing shortstop on an everyday basis.

Brignac began working out on Dec. 1 with the goal of adding muscle. His weight -- or lack thereof -- has been problematic for him in recent seasons.

"It was something that I needed to put on," Brignac said of the extra mass. "I have weight issues. I lose weight throughout the season every year, so it's important that I come in a little bit heavier. It's something that I have to stay on top of."

Brignac is set to take over as the starting shortstop, after Jason Bartlett was sent to the Padres in an offseason trade. Brignac hit .257 with eight home runs and 45 RBIs in 2010, while appearing in 113 games at second base, shortstop and in the outfield.

Rays sign Gonzalez to Minor League deal

DUNEDIN, Fla -- The Rays signed veteran right-hander Edgar Gonzalez to a Minor League contract on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old did not receive an invitation to Spring Training, but he is expected to compete for a spot in the rotation with Triple-A Durham.

Gonzalez has not pitched in the Major Leagues since 2009, when he went 0-4 with a 5.51 ERA in 26 outings, including six starts, with Oakland. The native of Mexico, who also pitched in Arizona, has tallied a 14-25 record with a 5.88 ERA and 207 strikeouts over 323 innings during his seven-year career.

Last season, Gonzalez pitched for Triple-A Albuquerque in the Los Angeles Dodgers' Minor League system. He posted a 1-1 record with a 4.81 ERA in four starts.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregormMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.