Results tagged ‘ David Aardsma ’

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.

Thoughts from Peoria on pitchers-catchers report day

Not surprisingly on the day when Mariners pitchers and catchers reported to work, most of the talk Sunday in Peoria focused on, you guessed it, pitching. But there are a few position players in camp early and all seem eager to put last year in the rearview mirror.

SmoakJustin.jpgAs first baseman Justin Smoak said: “There’s probably not a team out there that wants to get started sooner than we do to get last year behind us.”

Fair enough. I think everyone from fans to media to the Peanut Man are more than willing to forget about last season. So let’s focus on the here and now with some initial observations on Sunday’s activities from Mariners camp:

  • The earliest arrivals among the position players are all guys who could play critical roles in this coming season. Smoak, the 24-year-old first baseman, might be the biggest key of all to how this season unfolds given the Mariners’ need for a big bag bat in the middle of the order.
  • He was working with Dustin Ackley and, yes, watching the Justin and Dustin Show could be the highlight of this season if these young guys start coming through. Those two youngsters were hanging out with veteran shortstop Jack Wilson, a gym rat of a ballplayer who would be a good influence on his teammates as well as a nice help for the Mariners if he bounces back to health and plays the way he did in Pittsburgh before his trade to Seattle two years ago.
  • Wilson said he’s feeling great and has been working at his home outside Los Angeles with new infielder Brendan Ryan, who he called after Ryan was acquired by trade from St. Louis and was pleasantly surprised when he saw they shared the same area code.

    Turns out Ryan lives about 25 miles away, so the two have been working together on double-play situations in Wilson’s backyard diamond, taking ground balls from Wilson’s brother and another friend.

    Ironically, Ryan might eventually wind up competing with Wilson for the shortstop duties once Ackley arrives at second base, but that hasn’t stopped their budding friendship.

  • New manager Eric Wedge and pitching coach Carl Willis have an unmistakable bond after 10 years together in the Indians’ organization. When Willis walked by after taking his physical, Wedge asked how he’d done. Willis yelled over his shoulder that he felt so good he was thinking of moving his locker out into the player’s clubhouse, which evoked a loud snort from Wedge.
  • “He’s good for one of those every day,” said Wedge.
  • Willis, 50, spent nine seasons in the Major Leagues as a reliever and was part of the World Series champion Twins bullpen in ’91.

  • Closer David Aardsma was in a good mood Sunday as he talked with teammates and reporters in the clubhouse, but it’s hard to believe a guy still on crutches as camp starts will be ready to contribute any time soon. Aardsma acknowledged that he might not be ready for the first month or so of the regular season, but that it’s more important he be fully healthy for the bulk of the year and the rest of his career.
  • No argument there, though it’ll be interesting to see who steps up in that role. Brandon League had six saves last season while Aardsma was out, giving him eight in his seven-year Major League career.

    Chris Ray, a non-roster invitee, has 61 career saves … but only two since undergoing Tommy John surgery while with the Orioles in ’07.

    The other candidate mentioned by Willis is former Red Sox setup man Manny Delcarmen, who saved three games in six seasons in Boston.

  • Fox Sport’s Ken Rosenthal reported Sunday morning that the Mariners are interested in right-hander Chad Durbin, a 33-year-old veteran who would add another option to the bullpen mix. But Durbin hasn’t been a closer either with four saves in 11 seasons and the Mariners provided no inkling that there was anything to the Durbin rumors Sunday evening.
  • Clearly, though, Jack Zduriencik’s plan is to bring in as many options as possible on no-risk Minor League deals and see who sticks, which will make for an interesting camp. I still think hard-throwing Dan Cortes and Josh Lueke could develop into the best late-inning options, but Willis wants to  lower expectations on those youngsters as well as rookie starter Michael Pineda at this point, which is wise.

    Aardsma two weeks away from starting to throw

    As pitchers and catchers reported to Mariners Spring Training on Sunday, one of the biggest questions revolved around closer David Aardsma as he rehabs from offseason hip surgery.

    AardsmaDavidMug.jpgLeaning on what he called wrist-level “Tucker crutches” after the character frrom “There’s Something About Mary,” Aardsma said he’s about two weeks from being able to put weight on his recovering left hip.

    At that point, he’ll begin light throwing and then be ready to “really get after it” in another two weeks with more strenuous throwing.

    But the 29-year-old veteran says he’s not going to push his return too fast and acknowledged he might not be ready at all in the first month of the regular season as he recovers from the labrum surgery.

    “I’d like to be, but I want to make sure I’m healthy the rest of my career rather than get a couple outings under my belt in April,” he said. “I need to play this right because I want to be here a long time.”

    Aardsma believes the Mariners bullpen is in good hands.

    “We have strong competition for these spots and it’s going to be interesting to watch,” he said. “I’ve played with a lot of these guys and known a lot of these guys for a long time.

    “I played with Charlie Haeger. I played with Manny Delcarmen, Chris Smith. It’s actually kind of crazy. In Boston, our bullpen at one time we had David Pauley, Chris Smith, Manny Delcarmen and me out of seven guys. It’s like, alright, bring us all back together.”

    Aardsma likes the collection of pitching talent accumulated by GM Jack Zduriencik over the offseason, even without any big free-agent signings.

    “Chris Ray was lights out when he was healthy with Baltimore,” he said. “[Nate] Robertson, these guys have had success. It’s amazing they’ve brought all these guys in on Minor League deals. It’s like, dang, how did they pull all that off?”

    But the Mariners would also like to get Aardsma into that mix. He’ll join the fray as soon as he can, but it appears it will be at least a month before he begins throwing hard and probably two full months before he’s even close to thinking about returning.

     

    Aardsma, League, Vargas agree to one-year deals

    There’ll be no arbitration hearing drama for the Mariners this season as the club announced the signing of pitchers David Aardsma, Brandon League and Jason Vargas to one-year contracts Tuesday.

    The Mariners last three arbitration-eligible players all agreed shortly after the Tuesday deadline for teams and players to exchange arbitration numbers.

    Even if they hadn’t signed, chances are compromise deals would have been struck before the binding arbitration hearings in February. Very few teams and players choose to go all the way through with that process.

    Larry Stone of the Seattle Times notes the last time the Mariners went to an actual arbitration hearing was 2003 with Freddy Garcia, when he won a $6.875 million case after the club offered $5.9 million.

    No terms yet on today’s three deals, but the good news is the dealing is done and the Mariners are headed toward pitchers and catchers reporting Feb. 13 with no issues on the table.

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