BOSTON – Erik Bedard and Shawn Kelley made significant steps toward returning to the Seattle Mariners. Both pitchers threw two-inning simulated games before Saturday’s game at Fenway Park and finished feeling healthy and happy with the results.
Bedard threw two 20-pitch innings with Mike Carp and Greg Halman batting. He didn’t give up a hit.
“I felt good,” Bedard said.
The sprained left knee gave him no trouble.
“If it didn’t feel good, I would have stopped,” he said. “It felt good so I kept going.”
When asked if he felt like he was on track to return to the rotation for the homestand starting Friday, Bedard said, “Yes.”
The Mariners coaching staff also liked what they saw.
“The ball was coming out well,” Mariners pitching coach Carl Willis said. “It had good life. His breaking ball was good. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow when he comes in, but today went very, very well.”
The big question will be how the injured left knee affects Bedard’s mechanics. The left leg is the one he uses to push off the rubber and generate power. According to Willis, there seems to be no ill effects from the knee.
“He’s thrown enough (bullpen sessions),” Willis said. “Mechanically, he looks the same as he did before the injury, so that’s a good thing.”
But should Bedard feel any discomfort today he’ll likely stay on the disabled list and throw another simulated game.
If returned to his old spot, which is being held by Blake Beavan, Bedard would pitch Friday at Safeco Field against the Tampa Bay Rays. However, the Mariners have an off day Thursday, so that might change.
Kelley threw two innings – 15 pitches each. The first inning, the hitters did not swing, but in the second inning, they did.
“I felt really good,” Kelley said. “I felt normal.”
Kelley threw his fastball, slider and change-up at full speed.
“I was really pleased with his command,” Willis said. “He hadn’t faced hitters for six weeks or so. He threw all of his pitches and commanded the ball well. We’re going to see how he feels tomorrow and determine on whether he goes another (simulated) game, or we want to start him back on his rehab assignment.”
Kelley is trying to remain realistic about his return after suffering a setback a month and a half ago.
“I’m just going to take it day by day,” Kelley said. “I learned that after a few rehab tries that I’ve failed. When I’m back in a Seattle uniform, then I will be happy. Until then, I will keep working at it and hoping the elbow feels good, which it does now.”
Coming into the game Saturday, Dustin Ackley has the highest batting average in the American League with an 0-2 count. With his 0-2 RBI single in the first inning of Friday’s game, he raised his average to .429 (9-for-21) in that situation. … The Mariners have been successful on 18 of their past 20 stolen-base attempts. Ichiro Suzuki stole two bases Friday and Miguel Olivo stole another. … Ichiro has stolen 25 or more bases in 11 consecutive seasons, becoming the 18th MLB player to accomplish the feat. The record is 22, set by Rickey Henderson.
The Mariners wrap up the series at Fenway Park by sending rookie right-hander Michael Pineda (8-6, 3.24 ERA) to the mound today. The Red Sox will go with right-hander Tim Wakefield (5-3, 4.80 ERA) First pitch is set for 10:35 a.m. (PDT). The game will be broadcast on Root Sports and 1030-AM and 1240-AM.
Dustin Ackley had the highest batting average with an 0-2 count in the American League – .429 (9-for-21).