Pain-free Niese poised to return to rotation

Pain-free Niese poised to return to rotation

WASHINGTON -- Jon Niese threw a 39-pitch bullpen session Wednesday without pain or discomfort, keeping him on track to re-enter to the rotation Saturday against the Marlins.

"It's nice to throw a bullpen without feeling any soreness or pain," said Niese, who missed his last start with left shoulder tendinitis. "I kept the arm angle up and made some pitches in the bullpen that had probably 85 or 90 percent intensity, and felt really good. I'm pretty confident that I feel good. How it felt before, in between each start, was night-and-day difference from how it felt today. It was good to get that rest."

Barring some unexpected setback later this week, Niese will return to the rotation Saturday at Citi Field, slotting behind Matt Harvey and pushing Collin McHugh back to the bullpen. The left-hander is 3-5 with a 4.40 ERA in 11 starts this season, but 1-1 with a 1.33 mark over his last three.

"He said he felt great yesterday," manager Terry Collins said. "He had no discomfort at all, no tightness. So that was a good sign."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.