Obviously any news about Cliff Lee's recovery is important, especially positive news. The injured left-hander threw a bullpen session before the game and Manager Don Wakamatsu labeled it "outstanding" while pitching coach Rick Adair said Lee "looked great."
Lee was scheduled to throw between 50-55 pitches, but felt so good, he threw 64 pitches.
Lee is next scheduled to throw a simulated game on Friday.
"We are going to look at a sim game scheduled for more 2 to 3 innings and now maybe we'll see if we can bump it up to three or four innings because he feels so good," Wakmatsu said.
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If all goes well in that sim game, the conservative schedule would be one more sim game for Lee, followed by a rehab start with about an 75-80pitch limit followed by his first start with the Mariners.
But Wak was asked if Lee feels so good after the first sim game, would there be a need for a second one and instead jump right to the rehab start, and maybe expedite his return to late April instead of that first week in March.
"That’s our tendency right now," Wakamatsu said. "I asked Rick the same thing, Rick’s pretty good about saying lets wait and see. That’s a possibility.
We have to look at how that works. Throwing a bullpen as opposed throwing a sim game or minor league is so much different in the adrenaline flow and how he feels it. It would be awfully nice to get him back at the end of April."
Another aspect that will factor into Lee's return is his five-game suspension. The appeal hearing for that will be tomorrow (Wednesday).
LHP Erik Bedard will throw a 60-pitch bullpen on Friday.
Wakamatsu closed the clubhouse about 10 minutes before batting practice for a team meeting. And he was fairly candid about was discussed.
"Basically what we talked about is that I do feel everybody is putting a lot pressure on themselves right now," he said. "I think with expectations, once you come in and fail to reach those in the first eight games, people start to press a bit."
We talked about having some personality out there. Yesterday I watched that game out there in front of 45,000 fans, I didn’t see the personality in our players. A lot of that is they are trying to do too much and carry the club by themselves. That’s the gist of the meeting."
Wakamatsu talked about this team's confidence taking a bit of a hit early in the season.
Once you go down the road where you lose three in Oakland that sets the tempo and all of the sudden you start questioning how good you are," he said. "It’s a long season and we just have to make sure to keep these guys’ spirits up and get them to realize that we are going to work through some things and get this thing turnaround."
It's not just as simple as one blowout win or a scoring five runs in an inning - both of which seem impossible right now.
"I don’t think it’s that," Wakamatsu said. "And I’m not asking them to go to win 10 in a row. I’d love for that to happen, but what I’m saying is that we have to play the game a little more intelligently and you have to enjoy playing.
When you play with a monkey on your back and play for what other people think, that puts a lot of self imposed pressure on yourself. What we are saying is this is a good ball club that will be in a lot of ball games and will win a lot of ball games."
- Rajai Davis CF
- Daric Barton 1B
- Ryan Sweeney RF
- Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
- Kurt Suzuki C
- Eric Chavez DH
- Adam Rosales 2B
- Travis Buck LF
- Cliff Pennington SS
LHP Brett Anderson (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
- Ichiro Suzuki RF
- Chone Figgins 2B
- Franklin Gutierrez CF
- Jose Lopez 3B
- Mike Sweeney DH
- Milton Bradley LF
- Casey Kotchman 1B
- Rob Johnson C
- Jack Wilson SS
RHP Doug Fister (0-1, 4.50)