The big right-hander threw 50 pitches off the mound on Monday, working all of his pitches, and said he felt 100 percent after the session. If all goes well following Contreras' next side program on Thursday, he could make an injury rehabilitation start this Sunday for one of the White Sox Minor League affiliates.
"I don't think it's going to be a long time down there, because of the way I feel today," said Contreras through translator and White Sox reliever Octavio Dotel. "I think I can pitch over here, but normally they send you to the Minor Leagues. Maybe one start down there, then come back."
Contreras, 36, opened the season as one of the White Sox most consistent starters, posting a 2.76 ERA as recently as June 5. That number has since climbed to 4.60, partially due to his bout with right elbow tendinitis. This pain was most pronounced when he threw the split-finger pitch.
But there won't be much thought given to erasing his last three poor starts, when Contreras allowed 15 earned runs on 26 hits over 15 2/3 innings, at the time he's ready to come back. Contreras just wants to contribute in any way possible.
"I just feel good to be available to come back," Contreras said. "You just forget about what happened the last three starts. I just want to prove everything, so I can help the team that has been playing great. I can't wait to be back and do my best."
That blessing in disguise for Contreras and the team can be traced directly back to his stint in the bullpen late last season. He finished 4-0 with a 2.83 ERA from Aug. 27 to Sept. 19, shortly after returning to the rotation.
A stronger Contreras coming off the disabled list could lead to a stronger September finish.
"He told me he feels stronger," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "[Pitching coach Don] Cooper told me his fastball was coming out real good. Maybe this couple weeks helps him to get back on track."
"That was the best thing that can happen to me, physically and mentally, to come back and do what I need to do," added Contreras of the benefits derived from his relief work. "I feel very strong right now. So coming back from that injury and the way I felt today, it was unbelievable."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.