A month ago, David Aardsma was on crutches, which made him seem a long way from closing games for the Seattle Mariners.
December hip surgery had been more serious than initially expected, and Aardsma was hurting - even walking on crutches was painful Then there were the rehab excercises, the pool work, the stretches ...
Yesterday, Aardsma took the mound for the first time for a serious bullpen sessions.
"I threw 20 pitches at 100 per cent," he said this morning. "Well, 100 per cent of what I've got. I'm a little sore today, but it's a good sore. I feel like I'm part of spring training."
Just in time to break camp today.
There is no exact time table for Aardsma's return, but May 1 has always been a vague target date. Aardsma will throw another bullpen Thursday in Oakland, the day before Seattle's opening night game. Waiting just ahead for him: strengthening his right arm, mixing in fastballs with forkballs, finding command, facing hitters.
A bullpen was a huge step forward for Aardsma, and perhaps his team. A month ago, he seemed light years from closing. Today, May 1 looks conservative.