"It feels good; that's what you work for," Kelley said. "Went down there, worked hard and just tried to do whatever I could do to hopefully get back."
Kelley, who started the season on the Mariners' Opening Day roster in Japan before being optioned to Tacoma upon the Mariners' return to the United States, is available for Saturday night's game at Safeco Field. The 28-year-old made one appearance with the big league club, taking the loss in a March 29 appearance after allowing one run on a solo homer while recording just one out.
Kelley appeared in 10 games for Seattle last September after recovering from partial Tommy John surgery in August 2010. He said his arm feels the best it has since before the surgery and his velocity has seen a slight increase.
"I feel better arm-strength-wise than I did last September," he said. "I'm still a year and a half from surgery, so I think just recently in the last few weeks I've started to really get the full extent of my shoulder and arm strength back.
"My velocity's gone up a little bit. You can tell when it's coming out of your hand. I don't know exactly where it's at, but I know I have been talking with [Tacoma pitching coach] Dwight [Bernard] a few times down in Tacoma and he's saying, 'You're velocity's continuing to go up.' So, it feels good."
With Tacoma, Kelley has turned in five straight scoreless appearances and has allowed just two earned runs overall in 14 2/3 innings of work. He's 1-0 with a 1.23 ERA with the Rainiers, striking out 19 and walking just four.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said he wanted to stretch out the 22-year-old Ramirez -- who didn't record a decision while posting a 2.45 ERA in his seven appearances with the Mariners this season -- in case the Mariners needed a spot starter in the future.
"I thought he did a good job," Wedge said of Ramirez. "He broke in, we used him in different types of situations -- I thought he handled himself well, for the most part.
"I think he gained some invaluable experience being up here and we're deep enough into the season now to where if we did need a spot starter, he wouldn't be able to give us a great deal, pitch-count-wise."