KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Felipe Paulino is hoping for the best but seemingly has prepared himself for the worst, judging from his estimation of when he may return to the mound.

"Three months," he said Thursday morning. "Maybe four."

According to the official diagnosis, Paulino has a pinched nerve in his upper arm. Team medical director Dr. David Lintner told the right-hander he cannot pick up a baseball for a minimum of a month, but Paulino won't be surprised if it takes even longer.

"They said one month, but I don't think that's right," he said. "The next two months I'll probably rest."

Even if Paulino can start throwing after a month, he'll essentially have to repeat a full Spring Training and make a handful of Minor League rehab starts. In that respect, his estimation that the process could drag on a bit probably isn't that far off.

"Realistically, you're looking at two months before he's competing competitively," GM Ed Wade said. "He's got to get his innings filled out, get him stretched out, get him on a rehab assignment and see where he is from there."

Paulino said his shoulder and elbow feel fine, but his triceps area is causing the discomfort. He was warned by team doctors that even though he'll probably feel better in a week, it's important to give himself proper time to heal.

Considering most players battling injuries try to convince themselves, and their coaches, that they can come back early, Wade has no issue with Paulino's rather grim prognostication.

"I wouldn't try to persuade him otherwise," he said. "When guys get overly giddy and start thinking, 'I'm going to be the exception to the rule and I'm going to get back in half the time' ... I would prefer a guy want to be cautious and listen to the trainers."