Erik Bedard's first start is so-so
The groans of Mariners fans could almost be heard all the way from the Northwest. But at least these games don't count. On a sunny Friday...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Bedard by the numbers2
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The groans of Mariners fans could almost be heard all the way from the Northwest. But at least these games don't count.
On a sunny Friday in Scottsdale Stadium in the first Mariners game of spring training, Erik Bedard — the pitcher Seattle obtained in a blockbuster trade that cost them effective relief pitcher George Sherrill, top prospect Adam Jones and more — didn't much resemble the No. 1 starter the Mariners made him after the offseason deal.
In fairness, Bedard threw strikes on 31 of his 44 pitches in a 5-3 win over the San Francisco Giants, showing fairly good command. There will be more appearances in the spring and a full month to improve before opening day, March 31.
Bedard's two-inning outing Friday didn't live up to the hype. Yet it hardly seemed to bother the left-hander, who had little to say and didn't enjoy being peppered with reporters' questions after he allowed three runs on four hits with two walks and a strikeout in two innings of work.
"I already forgot about it," Bedard said in the Mariners clubhouse after his stint, "when I sat down on the bench."
Bedard maintained that everything was fine and didn't appear even half as rattled on the mound as he was when later asked about his performance, tersely dismissing questions and remarking that he was being asked too many.
Catcher Kenji Johjima said he saw good things, though he observed that Bedard got some of his pitches up. Mariners manager John McLaren was also satisfied, downplaying the significance of Bedard's first outing, and he hoped the fans had some leniency.
"I thought Erik threw fine. I thought he was around the plate," McLaren said. "We're not looking for shutouts every time he pitches; we're looking for him to get right for March 31."
The original plan was to have Bedard throw about 30 pitches, with the idea that he'd hit that mark in two innings. That plan apparently was changed to 40 pitches during the past couple of days, but Bedard didn't look worse for the wear.
Bedard was more sharp than not. He threw nine pitches to the first man he faced, Rajai Davis, but threw six total to the next three hitters. He threw first-pitch strikes to 10 of 12 hitters and got called first strikes on five consecutive Giants in their three-run second inning.
"He knows exactly what he's doing out there," McLaren said. "He's not in shape yet, and he's working his way into shape. I think this is a bigger deal than it should be because he's new.
"Naturally because of the interest, we're making a bigger deal of it. What I saw was fine. He's right on target. Got his pitch count in and worked on all his pitches. That's what we want to see."
Today it's Felix Hernandez's turn in the spotlight, in his role as No. 2 starter against San Diego in Peoria. Bedard is scheduled to pitch again Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels if the team follows its five-man rotation.
"We're not looking to win the Cactus League, we're looking to win the American League West and that starts on March 31," McLaren said.
He added that Bedard "shouldn't be judged on his first spring-training game, for God's sake. Cut him a little slack here."
The day ended well for the Mariners, who defeated the Giants thanks to the relief work of Cha Seung Baek, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jake Woods (the winning pitcher) and Sean Green, who shut out the Giants on only four hits from the third inning on. The Seattle bench also shined in the later innings, as the M's plated all of their runs in the sixth, eighth and ninth frames and stole four bases.
Tug Hulett and Jeff Clement had two hits each and Mike Morse, making his bid to win a roster spot, lined a two-run single in the eighth to drive in the tying and go-ahead runs.
• McLaren said pitchers Arthur Rhodes, Chris Reitsma and Mark Lowe are throwing well as they continue their comebacks from arm surgeries in the offseason. Also, pitcher Anderson Garcia is getting closer to returning from biceps tendinitis.
• The Mariners announced the signings of Morse, OF Jeremy Reed and RHP Sean White to one-year contracts for this season. The team has until Sunday to sign its last player on the 40-man roster, Hernandez, who could get at least a one-year deal, if not a longer-term contract.
• Single-game tickets for Mariners games at Safeco Field go on sale at 10 a.m. today.
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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