Trio gives Mariners shot in arms
LARRY LARUE; Staff writer
PEORIA, Ariz. – The top three pitchers in the Seattle Mariners’ dream rotation – Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee and Erik Bedard – each threw a baseball Wednesday, with wildly varying results.
Opening night starter Hernandez worked the equivalent of six innings in a minor league start, throwing 86 pitches, allowing one run and striking out six.
Lee played catch, making 50 throws from about 60 feet, easily the best news the team has had on its left-hander since he strained an abdominal muscle 16 days ago.
Bedard played catch, too, throwing long toss. The team later placed him on the disabled list – the 15-day disabled list – which is a telling move.
Had they believed there was no chance of Bedard pitching in May, the Mariners would have put him on the 60-day DL. Clearly, they’re optimistic.
“Bedard’s ahead of schedule,” manager Don Wakamatsu said.
Although Lee and Bedard will open the season either on the DL or headed there, the Mariners probably couldn’t have asked for better results from either of them.
In Lee’s case, it was his first pain-free game of catch since March 15, when he took a fall in a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. It opens a couple of options for him and the team.
Lee was suspended five games for throwing behind a batter in that March 15 start, and has appealed. His appeal was to be heard this week but was postponed.
Lee could drop his appeal – or have it heard and perhaps reduced – before opening day, then serve it the first week of the season. After that, he would go on the DL, but when he was healthy enough to pitch, the suspension wouldn’t delay him.
All he wanted to talk about Wednesday was how he felt.
“I’ve slowly been getting better, but it’s a strange injury. You really don’t know where you’re going to be until you throw,” Lee said. “I can do a lot of stuff. I do probably 15 different exercises in the water, rotational stuff, and I feel absolutely nothing.
The hardest thing is that my arm feels good, my legs feel good and I feel like I can let the ball go. I almost have to hold myself back to make sure nothing happens. It’s one of those deals where if you do too much you go backwards.”
Moving forward, however, means missing the start of his first season in Seattle, and that frustrated Lee.
“This is my job,” he said. “I want to do my job, but injuries are part of the game sometimes and you’ve got to make the best of it and get back as soon as you can.”
As for Hernandez, he gave up a home run to the first batter he faced – “a fastball stayed up” – then didn’t allow another run in his final tune-up.
“Finally, spring is over for me,” he said, laughing. “I was in shape the first day I got here. I feel ready. I felt good today. I think Monday, I’ll have a little more adrenaline.”
On Monday, Hernandez will make his third opening night start for Seattle, his second straight. When will he start thinking about it?
“At about 7:05 p.m. Monday,” Hernandez said, then winked.