Mariners' Doug Fister sharp in minor-league outing
Mariners pitcher Doug Fister has bounced back after being struck by a line drive, striking out five and allowing four hits in a minor-league spring-training game.
Seattle Times staff reporter
PEORIA, Ariz. — There was no sign of the Doug Fister who had been lying on a training table 10 days ago with his arm packed in ice after being hit by a line drive.
No sign as well of the Fister who, early in camp, had allowed opponents to light up scoreboards the way retailers prepare store windows for a holiday sale. Instead, the strike-throwing, quick-working pitcher on the mound looked every bit the guy the Mariners fell for last September as he tossed an important Class AA outing here Monday in one of his final auditions for the major-league rotation.
And while a minor-league outing isn't an entirely perfect gauge of where a pitcher stands, it was good enough for a Seattle team hoping Fister would be healthy enough to join a rotation already reeling from the loss of Cliff Lee.
"It felt good," Fister said. "Rick (pitching coach Rick Adair) and I have been working on some things and I felt real good through it. I'm trying to stay healthy."
Fister struck out five batters over a four-inning, 65-pitch performance. He allowed only one run, courtesy of a second-inning, solo home run to right field by minor-league slugger Carlos Peguero, but otherwise appeared in control all day.
Two of the strikeouts came against Mariners outfielder Ryan Langerhans, who was getting in multiple at-bats as he recovers from elbow stiffness that sidelined him since last week.
Fister said the work he and Adair have done the past few weeks involves improving his mechanics to cut back on "wasted energy."
Adair was pleased by all the first-pitch strikes thrown by Fister.
"It's just a matter of seeing that he's healthy and that he created an angle on his pitches," Adair said.
The outing had to be a relief to Seattle executives. The club will likely pencil Fister into a rotation that will also include Felix Hernandez, Ian Snell, Ryan Rowland-Smith and Jason Vargas.
The Mariners on Monday also saw Erik Bedard throw off a mound for the first time since his surgery last year to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. Bedard threw 20 pitches over six minutes with a slide-step at less than full-speed and still remains several weeks — if not months — away from rejoining the rotation.
As for Lee, the hearing on his five-game suspension was to be heard Monday, but has been delayed by Major League Baseball because of logistical difficulties. No further hearing has been scheduled yet. General manager Jack Zduriencik said he'll likely have to make the decision whether to add Lee to the disabled list to start the season without knowing if the suspension will be upheld.
"It's just one of those things you have to deal with," Zduriencik said. "We'll wait for them to reschedule and deal with it when it comes time to do so."
Fister has tossed six minor-league innings in a 48-hour span and will get at least one more appearance — in which he'll hope to throw 75 to 80 pitches — before the regular season.
The injury, he said, wasn't like a typical arm problem that might have an impact on a pitcher's mechanics. He simply needed to let the swelling subside, then rebuild his confidence. Monday's outing won't hurt.
"I wasn't able to physically throw a pitch, but there were other things that we could accomplish at that time," Fister said of his time off. "The way I look at it, it was a building period. Not a dead point."
M's bats awaken
PHOENIX — The Mariners' bats awoke slightly in the late innings against the Oakland Athletics on Monday. Josh Bard and Franklin Gutierrez hit solo home runs in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, giving the Mariners a 3-2 win. Gutierrez's winner came off Oakland closer Andrew Bailey, who was making his first appearance in two weeks, nursing a sore elbow.
Bard, a late-game substitution for starting catcher Rob Johnson, also blocked a Kanekoa Texeira pitch in the dirt and threw out Cliff Pennington for the first out of the ninth.
"Bard got player of the game, obviously," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "And it was nice to see Guti with the power."
Before the home runs, it had been another inoffensive hitting afternoon.
The M's managed only three hits and a run in 6-1/3 innings off Oakland starter Gio Gonzalez.
"You don't really know until the lights go on," Wakamatsu said of the offense. "We have a lot of talent out there. If it continues then yeah you're concerned about it. Right now, I don't give a lot of stock to it."
• Starter Jason Vargas, who will get one more appearance in Albuquerque. N.M., this weekend before the season starts, allowed two runs and four hits in five innings. He walked four and struck out one and threw. 83 pitches.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Times columnist Steve Kelley contributed to this report.
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