Jake Petricka healthy again after season-ending surgery in 2016

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Right-hander Jake Petricka is 10 months removed from hip surgery, “feeling great” and throwing the ball with some life.

“Just happy to be getting everything back in time,” the 28-year-old reliever said. “We’ve come a long way since the start of camp already.”

The 6-5 Petricka went on the DL in early May last season with a hip impingement, calling the injury minor and expecting to recover with treatment. But a month later he had season-ending surgery to repair it.

By September, he was back to feeling normal, he said. “Getting a full offseason to attack [his preparation for spring training] was awesome,” he said.

Jake Petricka. (AP)

Petricka, who posted 14 saves in 2014, is expected to be an important late-inning piece in the Sox bullpen. In Cactus Games this spring, he has touched 96 mph with his hard stuff, and he’s also experimenting with a new grip on a pitch that will move away from right-handed hitters so he has more than a good sinker and a changeup with armside fade.

Petricka has featured a slider and cutter in the past but with mixed results.

“Cutter, slider, anything that will move to the other side of the plate that will go with the two-seam and changeup,” he said. “It’s come a long way. We’re happy with it right now, just have to get more consistent as always.”

In four Cactus League games, Petricka has struck out five while walked no one over five innings, allowing two runs. He and Zach Putnam pitched in simulated games Wednesday, and Petricka is slated to pitch Saturday against the Dodgers.

Petricka’s career began when he pitched in 16 games out of the bullpen for the Sox in 2013, posting a 3.26 ERA. In 2014, he converted 14 saves and a 2.96 ERA pitching 73 innings, but the following spring he experienced forearm soreness and opened the season on the DL. He would pitch to a 3.62 ERA over 52 innings in 2015.

The Sox enjoyed an off day Thursday. They host the Cubs in Glendale on Friday (12:05 Central, CSN). Derek Holland is scheduled to start with prospects Michael Kopech and Zack Burdi among those scheduled in relief.