Results tagged ‘ Erik Bedard ’

Bedard continues being Mariners best story

Bedard.JPGMariners fans looking for reasons to get excited about this coming season can look at today’s boxscore against the Padres for a good clue.

Erik Bedard 5 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 62 pitches (44 strikes/18 balls)

There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about Bedard’s role with the club this year, based on his past shoulder problems. But the lefty has looked sharp from the start of camp and that run has carried now through his fifth start of the spring.

With two more dress rehearsals to go, there’s little question that Bedard is the best surprise of this spring for a team that can use a few things to go its way. Bedard said after the game today he hasn’t felt this good in his three years in Seattle. He’s been both good on the mound and in the clubhouse, a happy camper who is enjoying being pain free.

A healthy Bedard would change Seattle’s rotation outlook considerably, providing a legit No. 2 behind Felix Hernandez and taking some of the pressure of Jason Vargas and Doug Fister, not to mention young Michael Pineda.

So knock on wood, if you’re a Mariners fan, but that continues to be a positive storyline coming out of Peoria.

The Padres surely aren’t the Rangers when it comes to trotting out a scary lineup, but Jamey Wright, Josh Lueke and Brandon League also provided bullpen encouragement after the relievers struggled against Texas a day earlier.

League’s outing was much better than his last struggle. He’ll be a roller coaster as a closer, no doubt, but he remains the front-runner there until David Aardsma’s return.

We’ll get another look at Chris Ray on Monday, as well as Pineda when the Mariners play the Reds in Goodyear.

Lueke continues to look like a legitimate back-end candidate as well, though he benefitted largely today from a great diving catch in center by Ryan Langerhans.

Langerhans is getting an extensive look in the outfield right now, while Gabe Gross appears out of the picture. And while Langerhans has gone 0-for-9 the past two games to see his batting average drop to a mortal .324, his diving catch surely didn’t hurt as Eric Wedge looks for a guy who can fill that fourth outfielder role and brings versatility.

Wedge also is closing in on a decision on his shortstop-second base combo. He said that announcement will come ‘”sooner than later.” The last time he told me something was coming “sooner than later” was when I asked about when cuts would start … and they wound up coming the next day. So stay tuned.

The guess here is Wilson will be the Opening Day shortstop and Brendan Ryan, who gapped a triple today and has been hitting the ball better than his .152 average would indicate, will be the primary second baseman.

That leaves Adam Kennedy in a utility role where he can fill in at second, first, third and even left if necessary.

The other good news today is Miguel Olivo is working more and more behind the plate, catching bullpen sessions and making throws to second on his recovering groin muscle. It sounds as if Olivo should be part of the Opening Day roster, even if he’s not ready to catch every day.

A big question is who’ll be the other catcher, Adam Moore or Josh Bard. It’s going to be hard to stuff too many non-roster invitees on the final group, so that might work against Bard, though he’s been playing well.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back Monday with the latest on Pineda and other doings from the desert.

Thoughts from Peoria as Mariners make it four straight

Lots to like today for Mariners fans at Peoria Stadium as Erik Bedard backed up his first two impressive starts with another solid outing and young Alex Liddi smoked a grand slam for the second straight day as Seattle won its fourth straight with a 10-5 win over the Angels.

A couple asterisks, as always, in a Cactus League game. The Angels had a split-squad day and didn’t send their “A” team. And Liddi’s blast came against Ryan Chaffee, a 22-year-old prospect who was playing High A ball last season.

LiddiAlexMug.jpgBut Liddi himself is a 22-year-old who was in Double A last year. He’s looked good this camp, good enough that the Mariners moved Matt Tuiasosopo out of the third-base position and have him focused on first base and left field.

That leaves Liddi as the primary backup to Chone Figgins in most of these spring games, though in the regular season that role likely will fall to Adam Kennedy or Brendan Ryan in a utility role.

Liddi definitely is emerging as one of the up-and-comers to watch, however, and at 6-4, 220, he’s an imposing figure at third base.

Bedard, meanwhile, is more of a factor for this season. A huge factor, indeed, if he continues building on what he’s done so far this spring. The veteran lefty acknowledged Thursday that he feels like he did back in 2006-07 before his shoulder problems began.

And how good was he then?

“He was one of the best left-handers in the league when he was at his best in Baltimore,” said manager Eric Wedge. “The only thing that’s gotten in his way the last couple years were the injuries..He feels good and we’re hoping he can stay there.”

Another guy making a strong case for himself is Ryan Langerhans, who is fighting for the fourth outfield spot. Langerhans ripped a double off the high batter’s eye wall in center field for the second time this week on Thursday. His 2-for-3 day puts him at .375 for the spring.

Gabe Gross, another candidate for that role, has struggled at the plate so far, but emerged Thursday with a two-run home run off starter Matt Palmer.

Jack Wilson, getting his third start this week at second base, didn’t see a lot of action in the field but continued swinging a hot bat with a double and walk in three at-bats. His average stands at a healthy .467.

Brendan Ryan hasn’t hit as well (.158), but in fairness he’s ripped some hard-hit balls right at people and been robbed of hits at least a few times by nice defensive plays. Ryan himself clearly is an excellent shortstop and it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out over the next three weeks.

Now comes Friday and another chance to see big Michael Pineda pitch. The Mariners let it be known today that their official height-weight of the 22-year-old has been amended from an original 6-5, 245 pounds to the now correct 6-7, 260.

Yeah, he’s big. And he’ll be going against the Indians tomorrow at 12:05 p.m. at Goodyear in another opportunity to see just how ready he is to make the jump to the big leagues.

Training Camp Day 3: More good stuff on the mound

Bedard.JPGErik Bedard throws during his 10-minute bullpen session Wednesday in Peoria, Ariz. (Photo by Greg Johns)

Other than some clouds rolling in for the first time since camp opened, all was perfect in Peoria from a Mariners perspective Wednesday. Heck, even the clouds didn’t mask another day in the upper 70s, though it’s supposed to cool a bit tomorrow.

On the field, things continued progressing nicely on Day 3 as both Erik Bedard and Michael Pineda again looked sharp in their second bullpen sessions of the week.

Bedard seems to be throwing extremely well and, yes, I know everyone has heard this all before. And it won’t mean a thing unless he can stay healthy and do it during the regular season.

But these are the necessary first steps in that direction and manager Eric Wedge was among those who continue to be impressed.

Pineda is the other looming figure in the bullpen, for obvious reasons. The young man is huge, he throws hard and he appears to have very good command. The Mariners will keep their fingers crossed, but both Wedge and pitching coach Carl Willis acknowledged that it’s hard to miss Pineda at this point.

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THE TROOPS KEEP ARRIVING

Yusmeiro Petit arrived after clearing up his visa issues in Venezuela, so all 33 pitchers are now in camp. Petit was dealing with his physical today and didn’t throw, but presumably he’ll join in the fun Thursday.

Wedge said the schedule calls for three more days of bullpen sessions, then the pitchers will take a break for a day or two before beginning live batting practice once the full squad is in.

Position players continued trickling in, with Chone Figgins the newest arrival on Wednesday. Everyone is due for physicals on Friday and the first full workout will be Saturday.

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KNOCK ON WOOD

Wedge said everyone has remained healthy through three days, which is always welcome news. Of course, that doesn’t include closer David Aardsma, who remains on crutches. He was able to put about 30 percent of his weight on his recovering hip on Wednesday and says he can begin walking without the aids when he gets to about 60 percent.

Wedge also said the first intrasquad game will be Feb. 25, so we’ve got nine more days until the first live action. Then the Mariners face San Diego in the annual charity game on Feb. 27 and we’re off and running.

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FLOATS LIKE A BUTTERFLY …

I enjoyed talking this morning with knuckleballer Charlie Haeger and you can read that story here. It’s always amazing to me how the knuckler works. In his bullpen session today, Haeger was throwing to a Minor League catcher who got called in to help keep the big leaguers fresh and his first four pitches totally handcuffed the poor kid.

Not sure how much chance Haeger has of cracking the rotation, but if the Mariners need a spot starter/long reliever he could be in the mix. Just another story to watch in the coming weeks.

Here’s a photo I got showing Haeger’s grip, where he rests the finger tips of his two fingers on the ball. I don’t know which is more amazing, the way he floats that thing or the fact I actually got a decent picture of it in focus, given my limited photography skills!

HaegerKnuckle2.jpg Charlie Haeger throws his knuckleball during Wednesday’s workout. (Photo by Greg Johns)

Spring Training Day 1: Bedard, Pineda lead the way

MarinersStretchPeoria.jpgMariners pitchers and catchers stretch out before taking the field for first time Monday in Peoria, Ariz. (Photo by Charlie Riedel/AP)

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13 days until first Spring Training game.

46 days until Opening Day in Oakland.

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It was a picture-perfect day in Peoria as the Mariners hit their practice diamonds for the first time under manager Eric Wedge. You can’t ask for much more than blue skies and 80 degrees in mid-February.

Plenty of optimism to go around as well on Day 1 as Erik Bedard and Michael Pineda — two pitchers who could play significant roles if the Mariners are to surprise people this season — were in the first group of five pitchers to throw bullpen sessions.

Pineda, all 6-foot-5, 250 pounds of him, looked massive on the mound. Long, powerful legs and an imposing 22-year-old throwing hard. He’s going to be interesting to watch for everybody.

“Oh, he’s big,” Wedge said of his first impression. “I remember J.R. Richard. He was a big guy. I’d met [Pineda] a few times and talked to him in street clothes, but he looked even bigger in uniform. Then he gets up on top of that mound and he looks like he can reach out and touch you. He looked good. I liked it.”

Bedard worked much slower, a veteran move for a guy coming off shoulder problems who knows he’s not going to win or lose his job in the first bullpen session of spring. But Bedard also threw well, including some nice curve balls, which is not something everyone unveils in their first session.

You can read my full story on Bedard’s return here.

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ALMOST A FULL DECK

The only pitcher missing among the 33 expected in camp was non-roster invitee Yusmeiro Petit, who had visa problems and is still in Venezula. He’s expected later this week.

Closer David Aardsma and setup man Shawn Kelley also sat out as expected. Aardsma remains on crutches, though he hopes to begin putting weight on his surgically-repaired hip on Wednesday. Kelley isn’t expected back until about June as he recovers from partial Tommy John surgery.

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THE WEDGE RULES

The new skipper informed the team of a couple expectations at their first team meeting Monday. No cell phones in the clubhouse, no earrings on the field, be on time.

And, no, the mustached-man doesn’t have a rule against facial hair.

“I don’t get caught up in how they look,” he said. “It’s more about how they play and act.”

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THE KING WEIGHS IN

Felix Hernandez throws his first bullpen on Tuesday and is eager to get started. The Cy Young winner seems very relaxed and ready this spring, taking on a visibly bigger leadership role in the clubhouse and in dealing with the media.

He talked with Bedard over the offseason about staying with Seattle and says the veteran lefty has become one of his best friends on the team.

“When he’s healthy, we’re going to be good. Me and him together and all those other guys, we can be good,” Hernandez said.

Felix is also thrilled that his older brother, Moises, is joining the team’s Minor League camp next month.

“He’s so happy because he didn’t play last year in the States,” Felix said. “He said he’s going to do the best he can just to get to Double-A or Triple-A. And he’s having a baby in about two weeks.”

Hernandez said he works out frequently with his brother, who missed last year with a shoulder injury, starting when they were youngsters growing up in Venezuela.

“We were 13-14 years old and we broke everything in my Mom’s house,” he said. “There were a lot of foul balls, a lot of lights knocked out …”

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That’s all from today. We’re off to a busy start. If you missed it earlier, I talked with Josh Lueke about his difficult past as he tries to keep moving forward. Lueke has an excellent chance to earn a bullpen spot this Spring. You can read that story here.

And if you’re on Twitter, be sure to follow me at GregJohnsMLB for all the latest.

 

So much for the quiet off-season …

While the Mariners have been pretty low-key in the initial weeks of the Hot Stove League, GM Jack Zduriencik certainly got a few burners lit Thursday in a busy day that included the trading of Jose Lopez, the surprising return of Erik Bedard, the departure of Ryan Rowland-Smith and four moves to retain arbitration-eligible players.

Pitchers David Aardsma, Brandon League and Jason Vargas were all tendered offers as expected, which means they’ll either head into arbitration or come to agreements prior to that process. Utility infielder Josh Wilson agreed to a one-year deal Thursday night to avoid the whole tender/arbitration issue.

ZduriencikJackMug.jpgNow Zduriencik and his staff can head to next week’s Winter Meetings in Orlando with a better grasp of their roster situation.

Moving Lopez and cutting ties with Rowland-Smith opens up a little payroll and roster space, with Zduriencik saying he’ll pursue veterans in a couple positions to help solidify a roster that is rebuilding around some promising young prospects like Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, Michael Pineda, Adam Moore and Michael Saunders.

“They’re young and talented,” Zduriencik said of that group. “But it would be nice to land a few pieces that would bring us a degree of veteran leadership and fill some of the needs we still have.”

Zduriencik didn’t rule out the continued pursuit of starting pitching despite the return of Bedard, who he expects to be ready to challenge for a rotation spot. That re-signing will raise a lot of eyebrows from frustrated Mariners’ fans, but it’s a low-risk, potentially high-reward gamble given Bedard’s willingness to agree to a non-guaranteed contract.

If he goes to Spring Training and throws like the Bedard who went 28-16 with an ERA around 3.50 for Baltimore in 2006-07, the Mariners will have a quality No. 2 starter behind Felix Hernandez. If not, well, that’s why both parties agreed to a non-guaranteed contract, something of a rarity in Major League baseball.

The departures of Lopez and Rowland-Smith fall into the not-surprising category for a team trying to put a 101-loss season behind them. Both had their moments, but both struggled horribly last season.

Zduriencik didn’t want to risk going to arbitration with Rowland-Smith and worked on signing him to a deal — as the club did with Josh Wilson — right up to the 9 p.m. tender deadline. But the two sides couldn’t agree on what RRS was worth and he opted for free agency.

More power to him as the 27-year-old Australian truly is one of the best people you’ll find in baseball.

Lopez, too, could benefit from a fresh start, not to mention a chance to hit in Coors Field. If he returns to the guy who smacked 25 home runs and 96 RBIs a year ago, the Rockies will be thrilled. And Mariners’ fans will gnash their teeth. But that wasn’t happening for him in Seattle and the Mariners now will see what they got from 24-year-old pitcher Chaz Roe, a former first-round pick of the Rockies who struggled last year in Triple-A Colorado Springs, which isn’t an easy place to pitch.

Whether Roe ever helps the Mariners remains to be seen, but it’s a far better return than most expected from a situation where Lopez was going to be non-tendered and become a free agent if a deal couldn’t be worked out by 9 p.m. Thursday.

So that’s that. A busy day, a little roster reconstruction and the start of what figures to be more moves to come as Zduriencik goes about his business beginning Monday in Orlando.

 

Mariners re-sign Bedard to non-guaranteed deal

The Mariners made a surprising move Thursday evening, signing pitcher Erik Bedard to a non-guaranteed contract for next season.

The signing brings the club’s 40-man roster up to its full number.

While most Major league contracts are fully guaranteed, the deal with Bedard is structured different due to his history of arm troubles.

Seattle thus gets a potential quality starter at low risk and will see if Bedard can return to health after sitting out the entire ’10 season. The 31-year old was 11-7 with a 3.24 ERA for Seattle in 2008-09, but managed only 30 starts in that span.

The left-hander has had season-ending shoulder surgery in each of the last two seasons, most recently Aug. 6, 2010 to have a bone spur shaved down.

 

Bedard made three rehab starts last year with the Arizona League Mariners and Tacoma Rainiers, before being shut down for the rest of the season.

 

The club is still working on the situation with its arbitration-eligible players heading into the 9 p.m. PT deadline to tender contracts. That means no decision yet on Jose Lopez, but stay tuned.

 

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