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Originally published April 23, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 23, 2008 at 12:26 AM

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Notebook | J.J. Putz back, Erik Bedard about ready

J. J. Putz is back in the bullpen, Erik Bedard is back in the rotation, and R. A. Dickey is back in Tacoma. Those outcomes followed a series...

Seattle Times staff reporter

J.J. Putz is back in the bullpen, Erik Bedard is back in the rotation, and R.A. Dickey is back in Tacoma.

Those outcomes followed a series of transactions and evaluations Tuesday that left Putz available to close for the first time since he went on the disabled list after the second game of the season.

As expected, Putz was activated from the DL, where he spent 18 games while recovering from a rib injury. The Mariners entered Tuesday's game ranked dead last in the majors with a 5.80 earned-run average by their relievers.

"I think the bullpen held up real well, but now we can get guys back in their roles," manager John McLaren said. "Before, we were trying to keep two guys for the ninth inning. It put us in a little Catch-22 a couple of times. Guys you'd be normally using in the seventh or eighth, you're holding them back for the ninth."

Dickey, a knuckleballer who started and lost against the Angels on Friday, was optioned to Class AAA Tacoma.

That move was finalized after Bedard, on the DL with inflammation in his left hip, threw a successful bullpen stint (45 pitches) before the game.

Bedard was cleared to start Saturday against Oakland, presuming that a Thursday bullpen session goes well.

Jarrod Washburn will start Thursday against Baltimore, followed by Miguel Batista on Friday against Oakland, allowing the Mariners to split up the two left-handers, Washburn and Bedard.

That left Dickey as the odd man out as Seattle again decided not to risk losing Cha Seung Baek, who is out of options and could be claimed by another team if sent down. They are facing another decision Saturday when Bedard is activated.

Baek has pitched just twice this year, and not since April 13, when he made an emergency start against the Angels in place of Bedard.

"Baek has pitched well for us, and we just want to give him an opportunity to keep going," McLaren said.

Dickey takes it in stride

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Dickey has been through an emotional roller coaster this year. He was crushed after being optioned to Tacoma on the Saturday before the season started, and exhilarated to make his first start in two years last week. The news of his demotion was another blow.

"It's been tough," he said. "I'm thankful I'm a little older. I'm able to deal with it. My family is here — that's one of the hardest parts. They flew in [from Nashville] to stay with the team during the homestand here. It's harder for them than it is for me."

With Tacoma set to depart on a trip to Tucson, Ariz., the Mariners are allowing Dickey and his family to remain in the Seattle area until his turn in the rotation this weekend.

"I'm going to go back and just try to keep going, try to be ready for next time," he said. "I'll just kind of be in the wings. They definitely said I'm in their plans. I'm the 13th pitcher, or the 12th pitcher, which is a tough position to be in. But it comes with the territory."

Jones, Sherrill return

Adam Jones also went to Tacoma on Monday — to see some old acquaintances, like Matt Tuiasosopo and Charlton Jimerson. The Orioles' charter arrived in time for him to head south for the Rainers' game, which was rained out.

As for Tuesday at Safeco Field, it was his first game in Seattle since being the centerpiece, from Baltimore's standpoint, of the Bedard trade. Jones said the homecoming was muted by the fact he played just 73 games with the Mariners.

"I haven't been here with Seattle a long time," he said. "It's a little different for George [Sherrill], who was here for three or four years and was part of the Mariners.

"I had a couple of stints, but it's not like I played in front of these fans a lot."

Sherrill said he had never been in the visiting clubhouse at Safeco before.

"It's nice — one of the nicest in the league," he said. "It's weird, coming out of this dugout. Coming out of this bullpen will be different. But it's just baseball."

Notes

• The Mariners observed a moment of silence before the game in honor of former C John Marzano, who died over the weekend at age 45. Marzano's initials and No. 17 were written into the dirt behind home plate. He played for the Mariners from 1996 to '98.

• Reliever Eric O'Flaherty has moved from AA West Tenn to Tacoma. Sherrill said he still believes in the pitcher who replaced him as the M's primary left-handed setup man until an ERA over 20 resulted in his demotion."He'll bounce right back," Sherrill said. "Let him get his confidence back, and he'll be right back. I know he's good enough to be here and stay here."

• Mariners right fielder Brad Wilkerson left the game in the fourth inning with a tight right hamstring. Wilkerson struck out in his only at-bat.

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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