Good step(s) forward for Aardsma

There hasn’t been a ton of hard news coming out of Mariners camp so far, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For instance, the St. Louis Cardinals found out today that Adam Wainright has ligament problems in his elbow and might need Tommy John surgery.

AardsmCrutch.JPGThat’s the sort of news no team wants to hear. For the Mariners, many players literally knock on wood — banging on their lockers — when discussing health issues. It’s a huge issue for any club and can go a long way toward a season’s success or struggles.

Losing a Wainright — or any top-end pitcher — alters a lot of things. Take away a prime-time player and suddenly others struggle to fill that lead role. The Mariners certainly can’t afford to lose Felix Hernandez. And for this coming season to really come together, it would help tremendously if a couple things went right — like Erik Bedard staying healthy and Michael Pineda continuing to look impressive and acting like he’s 32 instead of 22.

Those are wildcards that could dramatically change the Mariners’ fortunes one way or the other.

The good news so far is that 10 days into camp the Mariners have had no injuries whatsoever. And Monday brought another positive step in the return of closer David Aardsma as he put down his crutches, for the most part, and was walking close to normally for the first time since his hip surgery in early January.

Aardsma says he probably won’t start throwing again for about a week. The rehab process seems to be going slower than originally planned as doctors are being careful to not push too fast and wind up setting him back. So my sense is the early prediction of a mid-April return isn’t very likely.

I’d suspect it’ll be a month or so into the season before Aardsma is ready, but we’ll have to wait and see.

The pace of camp is starting to pick up as the intrasquad game comes Friday, followed by the first Spring Training game Sunday. Then it’s about a month solid of games, when lots of things will sort themselves out.

There are some key questions to be answered, like the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation, which Jack Zduriencik talked about today. There’s also the left-field question, the starting shortstop competition, who is going to fill the middle of the batting order, will youngsters like Dan Cortes and Josh Lueke step up in the bullpen and on and on.

But in the next month, there’ll be other factors that change or add to those questions. And injuries, the one thing nobody can predict, can be the biggest game changer. So if you’re a Mariners fan, so far no news is good news.

Knock on wood.

1 Comment

Yes, no news is good news at this point. All we have to think about are mohawks and fe-hawks (Felix) and no-hawks (Aardsma). Right now I’m thinking that for Vargas and Fister to come out of last season with no emotional damage, and for the Ms to have an improving (yes, much improved) Jack Cust, all that is exciting. By May first we won’t even remember Branyan.

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