By Kirby Arnold Herald Writer
PEORIA, Ariz. — The fastball hit its spot some times and missed others.
The curve broke sharply on occasion, but it hung a few times as well.
The bottom line for Cliff Lee is that he threw off the mound Wednesday and felt good being there for the first time since having a bone spur removed from his left foot 19 days earlier.
“I wasn’t as sharp as I would like, but it’s the first time I’ve been off the mound in a little while so I guess that’s to be expected,” said Lee, the Cy Young Award-winning left-hander who the Mariners acquired in a December trade with the Phillies. “The foot thing is basically behind me. Now that I’m (throwing) off the mound, I feel fine.”
Lee was scheduled to throw 30 pitches Wednesday but stretched it to 45.
“I was looking to see if there were any issues with his foot, and there weren’t any,” pitching coach Rick Adair said. “His arm worked well, the ball came out of his hand well and when he left he was excited and he felt good from a physical standpoint.”
Unless Lee comes back today with any discomfort, he’ll throw off the mound again on Friday. Even though the other pitchers have thrown three bullpens to his one, Lee should be ready for the regular season.
“I’ll probably be a little behind when I get into a game in relation to everyone else, but I think once I get going I’ll catch up,” Lee said. “It’s still way early.”
Shawn Kelley became the first notable camp casualty when fellow reliever Mark Lowe kicked him in the face Wednesday morning as the team prepared to stretch, opening a bloody cut that required stitches to the right side of Kelley’s chin.
It happened when Lowe dropped to all fours, presumably to demonstrate a stretch, when Kelly leaned toward him and got too close. Lowe kicked out his right foot just as Kelley moved closer, and one of the metal cleats caught him in the face.
There was an immediate, “Ooooooh,” from the pitchers who saw it and then, as you might expect, cruel sympathy. Kelley walked away with a trainer and, as the pitchers began to loosen up, closer David Aardsma said, “A real man would still be out here.”
Kelley left the complex to be stitched up, and he said the doctor who worked on him deals with hockey players.
“He told me, ‘If you were a hockey player, I’d stitch you up and tell you to go back out and fight,’” Kelley said.
And, to no surprise, many of the pitchers took part in a pool to guess the number of stitches Kelley received.
“I had eight,” Luke French said. The correct number was six, making Erik Bedard the winner.
Worst part of the incident is that Lowe and Kelley are golfing buddies.
“I wouldn’t want to be kicked in the face by anyone else,” Kelley said. “Mark felt really bad about it.”
Kelley told him not to worry, although Wakamatsu wasn’t ready to forget the incident. He planned to talk with the team about it this morning.
“You want to have fun in dugout but when you take the field, there has to be seriousness,” Wakamatsu said. “If it had happened during one of our drills, I would be even more upset. That’s the message. We will enjoy our time here but at the expense of somebody’s career, that will not happen.”
Speed at the top
Wakamatsu made official what has been apparent most of the offseason, that Chone Figgins will follow Ichiro Suzuki at the top of the batting order.
Wakamatsu met with the two Wednesday to talk about it and, of course, had a little fun.
“I told them I changed my mind and neither of them are going to lead off,” Wakamatsu said. “Then I went back and said something different. It was more (a matter of) of bringing those two guys together and from a teammate standpoint how important it is for both of those guys to work together and to understand each other in style of play.”
Suzuki told Figgins to approach at-bats the way he always has and he will adapt to it.
“I am really looking forward to them as a tandem,” Wakamatsu said. “I think it’s going to be pretty special to watch. It brings a lot of weapons.”
Jose Lopez fielded grounders at third base a second straight day, this time having several bounce off his glove. Wakamatsu said Lopez was held out of the 300-yard shuttle Tuesday because of a stiff knee. … Pitcher Yusmeiro Petit still hasn’t reported because he has been excused in order to deal with a personal issue at home in Venezuela. … Three days of shooting for the Mariners’ annual TV commercials began Wednesday at the Wigwam Resort southwest of Peoria. There will be five commercials this year.
Read Kirby Arnold’s blog on the Mariners at www.heraldnet.com/marnersblog