Last year, I was with Milwaukee, and the Brewers made the playoffs. It was my ninth season in the big leagues, but it was only the first time I had been with a team that qualified for the playoffs. Unfortunately, I just didn't get the chance to pitch in the postseason.

Looking back, the right situation never arose for me in those three games against the Phillies. I was just sitting there in the bullpen, really itching to get the chance to perform.

This year, I'm with the Rays, the defending American League Champions. We're in the playoff hunt, and I would love nothing more than to get an opportunity to pitch in the playoffs. The guys in the clubhouse who got the chance to play in the World Series last year also want another opportunity.

At the start of the season our team set the goal of winning our division. While we obviously haven't ruled out winning the AL East, we're also in the thick of the race with Boston and Texas for the Wild Card. We're three games behind.

As we go down the stretch, I think it's important to look at winning one series at a time. If we focus on the game at hand, I think we will be in good shape. I think the keys down the stretch will also come down to good pitching and timely hitting.

I'm hoping to contribute to that good pitching out of the bullpen, which will probably include facing a number of tough left-handed hitters, usually late in the game. And, after missing some 50 games with an elbow injury earlier this summer, I'm glad to be back and able to do my job.

Physically, I'm feeling good. I had gotten off to a pretty good start this season before the injury. Being on the sideline for so long was certainly no fun. During the rehab process, I did everything I could do to get back on the field. I pushed to get back as quickly as I could, but ultimately it was a lot slower process than I had hoped.

Unfortunately I could only do what I could do then, but now it is that exciting time of the season, and I look forward to contributing to the Rays.

Brian Shouse is one of two left-handed sidearmers on the Tampa Rays excellent bullpen staff, along with Randy Choate. The 40-year old Shouse had a tough outing on July 27, his first after coming back from his elbow inijury but has not allowed an earned run over seven appearances since then.