A scar runs down the middle of James Houser's chest now.
Doctors have told him he'll no longer have to worry about an enlarged aorta. Open-heart surgery last May repaired that. As a matter of fact, the York Revolution reliever feels just fine.
"It's like putting a new hose in your car. My heart pumps great. But a little piece of my aorta had a problem. So, they fixed it and I feel better now than ever," Houser said Wednesday.
The left-hander first found out about his enlarged aorta when he grew to 6-foot, 3-inches at 12-years-old and doctors just wanted to check him out to make sure everything was all right. He was still given the OK to play sports.
Originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the second round
The following season, he arrived in spring training camp with the Baltimore Orioles, only to find out the aorta had grown to a dangerous size. Surgery meant missing the entire 2011 season, but really there was no alternative.
"I have two sons, a wife. I got things I have to watch out for," he said. "I'm just fortunate that they caught it in time and they were able to fix me."
Possible starter?: A native of Sarasota, Fla., Houser had spent all of his career as starter in the Rays' organization until he joined the Marlins in 2010, when he came out of the bullpen for majority of the year.
Revs' manager Andy Etchebarren said he will use Houser as a long-inning reliever to start the year, but Houser could step into a starting role if needed. To Houser, it doesn't matter what role he's used in.
"I'm just glad to be back out of the field," he said. "I just want to play."
Suspension: As a young Rays' prospect in 2007, a then 22-year-old Houser tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug and was suspended for 50 games. It's a mishap he owns up to.
"That was just a mistake I made a long time ago," he said. "I regret it happened and I have moved forward from that."
Healthy: Revs' pitching coach Mark Mason said Houser, 27, was cleared by doctors with WellSpan, the team's official health care provider.
He looked quite healthy in Wednesday's scrimmage against the Sugar Land Skeeters at Sovereign Bank Stadium. In Houser's first appearance back in game competition since pitching for the Marlins, Houser tossed a 1-2-3 seventh inning in 13 pitches, striking out two. His fastball was clocked around the mid-80s.
If he picks up where he left off in 2010, and shows that he's healthy, Houser has the potential to be picked up by an affiliated club this year. At least that's how he's looking at it.
"The feedback I was getting from affiliated clubs (this past offseason) is they wanted to see me healthy. They wanted to see me go out and compete," Houser said. "Wherever that takes me, it will take me. Being here right now is great."
Spring training notes: Sugar Land Skeeters' left-hander Lance Pendleton was picked up by the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday and assigned to Class AAA Durham. ... York defeated Sugar Land, 6-1, in Wednesday's scrimmage. ... Revs' right-hander Stephen Penney arrived in York on Tuesday night and pitched an inning in Wednesday's scrimmage.
-- Reach John Walk at 505-5406 or jwalk@york dispatch.com or follow on Twitter @JohnKWalk.