When Erik Bedard takes the mound at Cheney Stadium tonight, he will, like most of his Tacoma Rainiers teammates, hope that his performance leads him on to the Seattle Mariners.
The difference for Bedard is that he doesn’t have to be perfect tonight – or even very good.
All he needs do is throw between 75-80 pitches and feel healthy afterward.
“We’re looking to stretch him out to around 80 pitches, so he could get to 95-100 in a start with us next week,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “The rest – velocity, command – is important, but not as much as his coming out of this with no physical problems.
“The key is probably how he feels Friday. If he tells us he’s good, we’re good.”
Tonight’s start is the closest the 31-year-old left-hander has been to a big-league mound since July 25, when he left a game against Cleveland with shoulder inflammation.
That inflammation was the result of a torn labrum and inflamed bursa, both injuries dealt with in an Aug. 14 surgery. Bedard has been rehabbing his shoulder since then.
A dominant starting pitcher at times, Bedard has a history of injuries throughout his six-year career. He is 51-41 with a 3.81 earned run average in the majors. In 30 starts over two seasons with Seattle, Bedard is 11-7 with a 3.24 ERA.
“We’re all excited,” Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “He’s feeling great. (Thursday) will be nice for him.”
Given the probability of a Cliff Lee trade in the next month, adding Bedard to the Mariners’ rotation would be considered a major asset.
Wakamatsu was asked if he was excited at the prospect of Bedard making that tentatively scheduled July 6 start for Seattle.
“No, not yet,” Wakamatsu said. “We’ve pushed him, and he had a setback. Now it’s a case of when he’s ready, he’s ready. He’s worked hard and he’s close, but until he says he feels good Friday morning, I’m holding off excitement.”
Bedard apparently isn’t as patient.
“I talked to him a couple of days ago, and Erik’s in great spirits,” Wakamatsu said. “He’s ready to pitch. He’s been excited. He’s been hurt, and he feels healthy now.
“He’s done all this work, now he wants to pitch again.”
Staff writer Ryan Divish contributed to this report.