ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays' bullpen could be getting a major boost as soon as Saturday.

Righty Joel Peralta is scheduled to return from his eight-game suspension, while Kyle Farnsworth, who has been on the disabled list since the beginning of the season, may be ready to return from a right elbow strain.

Peralta, who was suspended because of excessive pine tar on his glove, said he felt good facing hitters before Thursday's game and is eager to play.

"This has been the longest eight days of my career," Peralta said. "I'm out of the game for eight days, and I'm just going to come back and try to do my best. That's all I can do, that's all I want to do."

Farnsworth, meanwhile, was back in the Rays' clubhouse after making a pair of rehab appearances with Triple-A Durham on Tuesday and Wednesday. His fastball reached 96 mph, but he said he was more encouraged with his breaking ball.

"I feel like I'm throwing pretty good, about as good as I'm going to get right now," Farnsworth said.

Rays manager Joe Maddon said Fernando Rodney, who has handled the closer's role this season, will continue to pitch in save situations.

Scott returns from DL, back in Rays' lineup

ST. PETERSBURG -- After a brief stint on the 15-day disabled list because of back stiffness, Rays designated hitter Luke Scott was back in the lineup for Thursday's opener against Detroit.

In two rehab appearances with Triple-A Durham, the 34-year-old went 3-for-8 with a pair of homers, four RBIs and three runs.

"I went down to Durham to see some pitching, and I feel like I'm ready," Scott said.

Hitting cleanup on Thursday, Scott, Tampa Bay's leader in RBIs (35), should give the club's offense a boost.

"He's been swinging the bat well on his little rehab stint," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He was swinging the bat well working out, we'll see how it works."

Maddon added he isn't sure whether Scott is able to take on an everyday role for the team, but Scott will be evaluated after Thursday's game.

Entering Thursday's game, Scott is batting .220 on the season with nine long balls, but he struggled in his 11 games before landing on the disabled list when he went 5-for-37 during the stretch.

To make room on the roster, righty Chris Archer was sent down to Durham after making a pair of starts, allowing four earned runs in 11 2/3 innings of work.

"He should have been pleased with what he did here," Maddon said of Archer. "He definitely learned how much he belongs and that he can pitch in the big leagues so that's the first positive."

Zimmer can't escape Zim Bear mania

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays senior baseball advisor Don Zimmer has a problem.

Many of his friends and family keep asking if they can get their hands on a Zim Bear, a doll that will be given away as a promotional item for the first 10,000 fans at Friday's game against the Tigers.

"I've got so many people wanting a Zim Bear -- from Joe Torre to people out in California," Zimmer said. "Friends all over the country, my daughter up in New Hampshire -- they all want a Zim Bear."

The doll features the face of Zimmer on the body of a bear wearing a Rays baseball cap and jersey. As for the appearance of it, Zimmer joked saying, "It's all right."

"That's what it is," Zimmer said. "You can't change spots on a leopard."

Manager Joe Maddon had high praise for the doll and its look, but he would change one thing about it.

"Zim has lost a couple pounds," Maddon said. "This bear may not be anatomically correct anymore, because Zim is actually looking really good these days."

Niemann no longer needs scooter to get around

ST. PETERSBURG -- For the first time in six weeks, Tampa Bay starting pitcher Jeff Niemann was in the clubhouse Thursday without a cast on his leg or the scooter he used to get around.

The 29-year-old, who fractured his right fibula on May 14, has been able to play catch since Tuesday after getting off the scooter Monday.

"It's progressing the right way, and it's good to be standing up again," Niemann said.

There is still no timetable for his return, and the biggest challenge is getting the full range of motion back. He added he isn't sure what the next step is or when it will be.

To maintain as much arm strength as he could, Niemann said he was able to throw a ball into a trampoline when he was in the cast, playing catch with it.

"I think we did a pretty good job, because I'm throwing right now and the arm feels good, it feels strong," Niemann said. "It's going to be one of those things the sooner we are there, the faster we're going to be able to come back."