Anthony Swarzak threw one last pitch, roughly the 40th or so of his bullpen session, and pumped his fist. He bounced off the mound and met catcher Danny Lehmann halfway, giving him a half-hug in celebration.

Swarzak appeared both relieved and delighted after throwing off a pitchers mound for the first time since he cracked two ribs in January. With less than three weeks remaining until Opening Day, he's anxious to take part in the competition for bullpen jobs, and Thursday was a big first step.

"He was outstanding. He felt great," pitching coach Rick Anderson said. "Very good."

Swarzak threw easily, never ramping it up to full speed. That will probably be the case in his next workout in a day or two, but he could be throwing hard by early next week.

"He's progressing. It's encouraging," general manager Terry Ryan said. "It's good to see Swarzak on the mound."

He wasn't the only pitcher making progress on Thursday. Lefthander Scott Diamond faced hitters for the first time since having bone chips removed from his elbow in January, and his session of live batting practice was just as successful. Diamond, who enthusiastically received high fives from several teammates as he finished throwing, remains on target to pitch in a game Monday against the Marlins, and perhaps miss only a week or two of the regular season while he increases his arm strength.

"It's that time in the process of rehab -- they're ready to go, at least get on the mound and throw some," Ryan said. "Diamond is farther along, because he threw to hitters, but it's good to see."

For everyone but Swarzak's catcher, anyway. After congratulating the pitcher, Lehmann returned to the clubhouse -- where manager Ron Gardenhire broke the bad news that he had been reassigned to minor-league camp. Tough business.

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