By Kirby Arnold Herald Writer
The average Seattle Mariners fan might have panicked more than a little when the team announced Monday that star pitcher Cliff Lee had foot surgery on Friday.
Back in South Carolina, where Mariners pitching coach Rick Adair is spending his final week at home before spring training, the mood was more relief than concern.
Lee had a bone spur removed from his left (pushoff) foot in Little Rock, Ark., by Dr. Bryan Burke. The Mariners described it as a minor procedure and Lee should return to full baseball activity in two to three weeks.
“It might be a silver lining in a way,” Adair said.
He noted that Lee pitched 272 innings last year — 2312/3 in the regular season and 401/3 in the postseason — and a few extra weeks of rest might help him be fully ready for the season.
“It might kind of slow him down,” Adair said. “It appears that he’s real anxious and ready to get going, so it could be one of those things that was meant to be.”
Lee piled up more innings in 2009 than any pitcher since 2001. That’s when Curt Schilling pitched 305 innings and Randy Johnson 291 during the Arizona Diamondbacks’ World Series run.
The Mariners said Lee is not in a cast and can put his weight on the foot, and he is continuing his upper-body exercise program.
“We decided Lee should have the surgery as soon as possible, rather than try to pitch with the discomfort during the year,” Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “To get it out of the way and have it behind us is important.”
Adair said if the 2-3 week timetable holds, Lee should be ready when the regular season begins.
“That question has not been raised at all,” said Adair, who wasn’t aware of Lee’s foot problem until recently. “He decided this was the action he thought he needed to take, to do this and not have a situation all year long where he would need to have it injected (to kill pain).”
Read Kirby Arnold’s blog on the Mariners at www.heraldnet.com/marinersblog