Raps won't rush Big Rook's return

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

While a portion of the Raptors will use the next few days to rest up for the post-season, the Raps' Big Rook is putting on a big time press to get his conditioning level back up to snuff.

Andrea Bargnani, who has not seen game action since March 18 following an emergency appendectomy followed closely by a sinus infection that is still giving him some problems, did not join his teammates on their way to Detroit yesterday to face the Piston tonight in the penultimate game of the regular season.

Bargnani took part in the team's practice yesterday morning and then got in some extra work in the Raptors' practice gym with some of the Raptors non-travelling personnel last night.

Bargnani admitted yesterday that being off the court for almost a month has left him in the kind of shape he would normally arrive in for training camp.

"I couldn't tell you how far away I am right now, but I am completely out of shape," he said when asked how quickly he could come back. " I have no idea. We will see. All I can do now is try to get in shape. I will try to do my best and we'll see. Nervous. No, I won't be nervous, just anxious."

Bargnani said he has completely recovered from the appendectomy although the sinus infection is bothersome but getting better by the day.

Head coach Sam Mitchell hopes that a couple of good practices yesterday and another today will at least give Bargnani an opportunity to get back on the floor for tomorrow's season finale against the Philadelphia 76ers.

"We'll see if he can get out of bed (today) after these two workouts," Mitchell said. Asked how Bargnani looked yesterday, Mitchell replied, "Like a guy who hasn't played in (almost four) weeks."

Mitchell said the decision to leave Bargnani behind was an easy one. He wasn't about to risk Bargnani hurting himself.

"We'll work him hard and see how he recovers," Mitchell said. " Work him hard (today) and then we'll try to get him in (tomorrow's) game. If he's ready to play, we'll play him. If he's not, we won't. It doesn't matter how important he is. If he can't play, he can't play. It's that simple."

The other question Mitchell has to wrestle with, and there's no question this is a much nicer problem to have, is how much rest he should give some of his overworked starters over the final two games, the outcome of which will not change the Raptors' No. 3 seeding in the Eastern Conference.

"We have to be careful about it," Mitchell said. "We obviously have some guys who need some rest but if we are going to play Saturday or Sunday (playoff schedule still to be determined) then we've still got to stay sharp. You balance it between guys who have some nagging injuries and keeping the team sharp. That's why I may give a couple of guys a game off tomorrow, but everyone else will play."

The two most likely candidates to get the night off are Chris Bosh and Anthony Parker who have logged major minutes over the past month or so.


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