Photo courtesy of Ashley Rimgale of the Rainiers
UPDATE: OK, J.J. threw an inning and 2/3 not allowing a hit and striking out one batter. He threw one fastball at 95 miles per hour, the rest were either 94 or 93. His splitfinger came in around 85 and had good down movement. He also threw a couple of breaking balls. In all he threw, 17 pitches - 13 for strikes.
"Everything felt good," Putz said. I was able to throw all my pitches for strikes. I was able to get some ground balls out, it was nice."
But more importantly than throwing strikes, Putz felt like he was able to throw the type of strikes he wanted to throw.
"I finally feel like I did last year where I could finally put the ball where I wanted to with all my pitches," he said.
About the only issue during his outing came in the last batter he faced, Josh Whitesell grounded a ball through the right side past first baseman Craig Wilson. However second baseman Luis Valbuena made a nice play snagging the ball and throwing to Putz, who was covering the bag. Putz caught the ball and then stumbled on the bag and as the runner collided with him.
It made Mariners front office execs Bob Fontaine and Dave Wallace, who were sitting next to me, hold their breath a second. But Putz bounced up with a big grin and a packed Cheney Stadium roared in approval.
"I am quick like a cat," Putz said showing off a raspberry on his knee he got from the play. "The second basebaman made a heck of a play, and I just stumbled over the bag. I'm a big clumsy dude."
As for what happens next Putz, said "you know as much as I know" which basically means pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre and manager Jim Riggleman will make the decision on whether Putz needs another rehab start."I didn't feel like I needed this one, but they obviously wanted to get one more down here to make sure everything is sound," Putz said. "Hopefully this is enough."
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I'm staying back in Tacoma to watch J.J. make his rehab start tonight against the Tucson Sidewinders.
I talked with Rainiers manager Daren Brown, who said that J.J.'s pitch count is set at about 25 pitches. So if JJ were to throw just eight pitches in the first inning, he could go out for another inning.
JJ seems to be in good enough spirits to make fun of me, and from what I hear he plans to try and get back to Safeco to catch the end of the game tonight.
A few other things ...
Brown talked about the rash of injuries that have beset the Rainiers' pitching staff. It started with lefty Ryan Feierabend, who injured his elbow early in the season. From there Eric O'Flaherty, Rich Dohrman, Chris Jakubauskas, Mumba Rivera and Robert Rohrbaugh have all spent time on the disabled list.
Talked briefly with Rob Johnson, who had missed the last couple games to spend time with his wife, who just had a baby boy. It's their first child and he was pretty pumped about it.
Saw Wlad Balentien and Tug Hulett, who both seemed to be in good spirits.
I'll give you a full report on J.J.'s progress as it goes.
Here's the lineup JJ will face...
Jeff Salazar C
Trent Oeltjen LF
Tim Raines, Jr. RF
Jaime D'Antona DH
Josh Whitesell 1B
Jesus Merchan SS
Wilkin Castillo 3B
Matt Morgan C
Donnie Kelly 2B
Juan Gutierrez P
Here's the Rainiers line-up
Prentice Redman RF
Matt Tuiasosopo 3B
Tug Hulett SS
Victor Diaz DH
Wlad Balentien LF
Craig Wilson 1B
Michael Saunders CF
Rob Johnson C
Luis Valbuena 2B
JJ Putz P