When Erik Bedard was told he'd been called a jerk by a Seattle columnist – and one talk radio host – he might have been expected to say something unkind in return Tuesday.
"Just a jerk?" he said, and laughed. "That's not too bad.
"First impressions last, and when you're hurt and don't do as well as expected, that comes with the territory. When you don't talk to the media, people can write whatever they want."
Coming off a disastrous season for the Seattle Mariners, Bedard's 2008 mirrored that of his team. He was hurt, stopped pitching in July and in September underwent shoulder surgery that removed a cyst.
"I'm feeling pretty good," the left-hander said. "I've been throwing since mid-December, and I'm up to 12 minutes three times a week."
How far is he throwing?
"The length of my garage, which is about 72 feet," Bedard said. "It's minus 10 degrees outside."
Perhaps that explains a few things. Bedard is one of those goofy Canadians who actually enjoys sub-zero winter into which he was born and raised. He could easily move to Arizona or Florida and take up golf, like so many professional athletes do.
He hasn't. And he won't.
Asked if he's read much about himself this off-season, Bedard said he hadn't.
"Up here, it's all about hockey," he said.
But he had a fairly good take on what he's missed.
"I know if you're not signed to more than one year and you're not on a contender, people talk about you being traded a midseason," Bedard said. "That's baseball, and it happens every where. I haven't thought about it, but maybe if we were in July I would be, I don't know.
"I certainly have no control over it. My goal this year is simple – stay healthy, help this team win. It's the same one I had last year."
He doesn't know if he'll change the perception of his being a jerk.
"I don't think guys on the team felt that way," he said. "I probably won't do a lot more interviews this year than any other time. It's just not me. I know I'm a lot more comfortable going to camp this year.
"Last year, I was the new guy and two days in I was named opening day starter. I thought that confused a lot of guys who'd been there longer than me – I know it confused me a little. But it never changed how I pitched. I just couldn't stay healthy."