Erik Bedard throws without pain, will have bullpen session March 23
Mariners fans wary of two years of hearing mostly bad news about Erik Bedard's health figure to be skeptical until the comeback is complete.
Seattle Times staff reporter
PEORIA, Ariz. — Mariners fans wary of two years of hearing mostly bad news about Erik Bedard's health figure to be skeptical until the comeback is complete.
Even Bedard himself on Saturday said there's still a long ways to go in his recovery from significant shoulder surgery last Aug. 14.
But in the best piece of news for the Mariners on a day when they lost a somewhat sloppy 8-4 game to the San Francisco Giants, Bedard threw for 12 minutes from 120 feet beforehand without any pain. The session went well enough that he was then scheduled for his first bullpen session, tentatively on March 23.
"We're real happy with where he's at," said Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik. "He's coming along faster (than planned). Normally those surgeries (to repair an inflamed bursa and a torn labrum) are 10 months to a year, and I think he's a little bit ahead of schedule."
And if it continues at this pace, it could mean a significant payoff for the Mariners' fairly minimal gamble in re-signing Bedard last month. The Mariners signed him for one year for a reported base of $1.5 million with incentives that reportedly could push it to about $7.5 million.
That could be a bargain if the Mariners can get three or four months out of Bedard, who is 11-7 with a 3.24 earned-run average in two seasons in Seattle.
A 1-2-3 rotation of Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez and Bedard would be among the best in the majors.
"I know, that could be exciting," Bedard said Saturday. "That could make for a good finish."
There are still some substantial hurdles for Bedard, however.
The first few bullpens are to get used to throwing again at an angle. If that goes well, then he'll move to more intense sessions and simulated games.
Bedard said of the bullpen sessions "that's when it's going to separate," meaning that's when he'll really know where he is physically.
But so far, so good.
"There's been no setbacks, so that's the biggest key to the shoulder," Bedard said. "Shoulders are a little more sensitive than an elbow or something, so right now I'm on track, and hopefully it stays like that."
Bedard said he has thought all along a realistic return date would be June 15 — 10 months from the surgery.
"It was in my mind," he said. "I wanted to do everything I could to get back as fast as I can. But when you do that, sometimes you go too fast and you might hurt it and have setbacks — that's the hard part."
To date, however, that has been avoided.
Bedard made just 15 starts in each of his two seasons in Seattle after coming over in the deal that sent Adam Jones, George Sherrill and three others to the Baltimore Orioles.
The disappointment of those two seasons had many theorizing he wouldn't want to return to Seattle even if the Mariners wanted him.
Bedard, though, says, "Maybe you guys thought that, but me, never." In fact, some have noted that Bedard seems more a part of the clubhouse this season, more relaxed.
Bedard resists any notion he's changed.
"I feel the same as last year," he said. "Last year was fun other than getting hurt. We have a good bunch of guys, and everything is flowing together pretty good."
Now just to get back on the mound.
Hernandez to make spring debut
The Mariners will travel to Tucson Sunday morning for a game against Colorado and Monday against Arizona.
Sunday's game will mark the first start of the spring for Felix Hernandez, who has been eased into competition so the team can limit his total spring innings to around 20. He'll likely go about three innings or 50 pitches today.
He also is likely to bat with the game being at a National League park. "All he really cares about right now is hitting," manager Don Wakamatsu jokingly said.
• With Bedard still a few months off, the Mariners are looking to fill the fifth spot in their rotation, a competition that Jason Vargas seems to lead right now. Doug Fister, another candidate, gave up four runs, but only one earned, and six hits in three innings Saturday. Wakamatsu said the outing was better than it looked on paper, noting a couple of seeing-eye hits and an error.
"It wasn't real pretty but there were a couple of things we are working on and some broken bats in there," he said. "I was encouraged."
• The Mariners cut four players from the major-league roster — they will now participate in the minor-league camp. The four are 1B Tommy Everidge, 1B/OF Brad Nelson, and OFs Greg Halman and Michael Wilson. The moves bring the team's major-league roster to 51. It will have to be at 25 by the start of the season, April 5, at Oakland.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.