Troy Percival, who is recovering from a back surgery he had in December to remove herniated discs and repair some other damage, expects to be ready to pitch for opening day.

On Friday, Troy Percival arrived at the Charlotte Sports Park and he say I'll pitch in Spring Training games.

I feel better now than I did at any point last year,'' Percival added My back was killing me last year. I still have back pain but I don't have the things that go with it.

This is great news for the Rays, Percival a signed to a $4 million contract through the 2009 season with Rays. The biggest bonus the Rays could receive is a healthy Percival to alleviate the doubt as to who will fill the closer's role.

He already has thrown off a mound twice and said he expects to make about six or seven appearances in games during the final few weeks of spring training.