Seattle Mariners veteran catcher Miguel Olivo took his toughest test yet in coming back from a March 5 groin strain today, working three innings behind the plate in a minor league game.
Jason Vargas was the pitcher, getting work in, and Olivo caught 60 pitches - blocking at least four balls in the dirt.
"I asked Jason to throw his breaking ball down, and he did and I blocked it," Olivo said "I'd done it in the bullpens but I wanted to do it at game speed."
The issue, of course, may be how he feels tomorrow, but Olivo played with his usual abandon behind the plate, even throwing out a would-be base stealer to end one inning. On Thursday, he's scheduled to play another minor league game as the designated hitter.
"I'm going to DH, then maybe catch five innings the next day," Olivo said. "After that, everything should be good."
Olivo's presence on the opening day roster is a factor because if he's not healthy, Seattle would have to add a non-roster catcher - and with at least four non-roster players already apparently on the team, that would cut deeper into the Mariners 40-man roster.
Could Olivo have played longer today?
"You trying to get me in trouble?" he asked, laughing. "I listen to (trainer) Rick Griffin and the coaches. They know what they're doing. I'll say this, though - I wouldn't have played today if I didn't think I was ready. I don't want to look like a jackass out there.
"I'm not 100 per cent, but I was ready for this. They don't want me to have a setback, so I listen and do exactly what they want."