By Kirby Arnold Herald Writer
PEORIA, Ariz. — If going on the disabled list can be construed as a good thing, that’s what the Seattle Mariners did with Erik Bedard on Wednesday. They placed him on the 15-day disabled list.
That doesn’t mean Bedard will return from shoulder surgery before June, but by placing the left-hander on the 15-day DL and not the 60-day DL the Mariners keep the possibility alive.
“I think we’re keeping the option open,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “We’re really pleased with where he’s at right now. Will he have a setback? Will he not? It’s unknown right now.”
Bedard threw on flat ground Wednesday and is scheduled pitch in the bullpen today, probably 25-30 pitches.
“Just trying to get loose and see how it feels and get it strong every day,” Bedard said. “Since I’ve been here, when we first threw it was a little stiff but right now it feels really good. I’m doing everything I can to get back as quick as I can.”
He isn’t targeting a return date, however.
“I’m just going to take it day by day,” he said. “You can’t look too far ahead because sometimes with surgeries you never know if you’ll have a setback or not.”
Hernandez strong in final tuneup
Felix Hernandez threw the equivalent of six innings in a minor league intrasquad game Wednesday, striking out six and allowing three hits.
Ezequiel Carrera hit a leadoff home run, but the only other hits Hernandez allowed were a double by Ryan Langerhans and a single by Matt Mangini. Hernandez also walked two.
“I feel like I’m ready for opening night,” Hernandez said. “I feel fine and I feel strong.”
It was hard to tell who’s looking forward to the opener more, Hernandez or catcher Rob Johnson, who Wakamatsu said would start Monday’s game. He not only caught Hernandez in the intrasquad game, he stole a base.
“You may not believe this, but I could run,” Johnson said. “I ran 11-flat in high school and if you look up my minor league numbers, I stole some bases.”
He stole six bases in 2004 with the Everett AquaSox, 10 in 2005 at Wisconsin and 14 in 2006 at Tacoma.
After that, catching took its toll, leading to surgery on both hips in the offseason. Brought through spring carefully to keep him healthy, he’s eager to catch Hernandez on Monday night.
“I’m ready to go, I can tell you that,” Johnson said. “And from what Felix did today, he’s ready to go, too. It’ll be a good combination of us both being ready.”
Sweeney continues to rake
Mike Sweeney came to spring training hoping to make enough of a positive impression that some team would want him this year as a DH. It didn’t seem like the Mariners would be that team, given Wakamatsu’s desire for a bench filled with speed and versatility.
Sweeney, however, changed a lot of minds with a hot streak at the beginning of camp, and he carried it right through to his final Arizona game. Wednesday, he went 4-for-5 with two doubles and three RBI to raise his exhibition batting average to .559.
His double in the ninth inning scored Corey Patterson with the go-ahead run in the Mariners’ 7-6 victory over the Texas Rangers.
While the roster may not be set until Sunday, Sweeney seems to have cracked what seemed to be an uncrackable 25-man unit.
“You can never underestimate a guy like that,” Wakamatsu said. “We did have dialogue over the winter and he talked about how hard he was working and the things he was doing and how good his body felt. He keeps proving that there’s more in there.”
Today in camp
It’s getaway day for the Mariners, who will play their final Arizona exhibition at 12:05 p.m. against the Chicago White Sox (ESPN 710 AM radio) and jump on a plane for Albuquerque, where they’ll play the Colorado Rockies on Friday and Saturday. Right-hander Ian Snell, who’ll start the season second in the Mariners’ pitching rotation, will start today. Right-hander Scott Elarton will start for the White Sox.
Outfielder Patterson optioned out of his minor league contract Wednesday night and became a free agent. Patterson, who signed a minor league contract with the Mariners in early December and came to spring training to compete for a backup outfield spot, batted .216 in 19 exhibition games. With Eric Byrnes playing well offensively and defensively, Patterson’s fate with the big-league club seemed sealed. … The Mariners placed utility infielder Jack Hannahan on the 15-day disabled list because of his strained right groin. He was examined Monday in Philadelphia by a specialist who determined that he doesn’t need surgery. … Steve Bray, a 29-year-old right-hander in his eighth pro season, retired Josh Hamilton, Vlad Guerrero and Nelson Cruz to end Wednesday’s game.
Read Kirby Arnold’s blog on the Mariners at www.heraldnet.com/marinersblog