February 25, 2009 in Sports

Bedard takes big step by facing hitters

Gregg Bell Associated Press
 

PEORIA, Ariz. – The Seattle Mariners’ Erik Bedard passed his first brief test in his comeback from shoulder surgery, allowing only a ground-ball single during a scoreless inning in an intrasquad game Tuesday.

He then declared himself healthy and ready to pitch Friday in an exhibition game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Bedard threw 12 pitches, six to Bryan LaHair before he struck out the reserve first baseman to end his short morning.

“It was pretty good,” Bedard said of his first work against hitters since surgery Sept. 26 to remove a cyst from his pitching shoulder and cut away some tissue.

Bedard is one month ahead of the typical, six-month recovery time from that procedure.

Asked if he felt healthy, Bedard said, “Yep.”

The left-hander went 6-4 with a 3.67 ERA in 15 starts last season before the surgery. He didn’t make a start after July 4.

A year ago, the Mariners traded five top prospects – including George Sherrill, a closer they could now use – to the Baltimore Orioles for Bedard.

He and the Mariners agreed last month on a $7.75 million, one-year contract that gave Bedard a raise of $750,000 and avoided salary arbitration. He is eligible for free agency after this season.

“He said it was great. Everything’s good,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said of Bedard’s outing.

Bedard began throwing during the second week of December in his garage at his home near Navan, Ontario, off his portable plastic mound. By the first of the year, Bedard said the scar tissue had loosened and he felt pain-free, as he has since. He said his shoulder troubles are completely out of his mind.

Asked this month what the difference is between now and last year, he said simply: “It just doesn’t hurt.”

Griffey could earn $5 million

Ken Griffey Jr. could get a total of $5 million this year in his return to Seattle if he stays healthy and fans flock to see him.

The Mariners have layered performance bonuses based upon plate appearances and attendance that could net Griffey an additional $3 million – on top of the $2 million in base salary that’s in the one-year contract baseball’s leading active home run hitter agreed to Saturday.

Griffey, 39, could earn $3 million more if the Mariners have a paid attendance total of 3 million, he has 500 plate appearances and he does not go on the disabled list, according to salary figures obtained by the Associated Press.

Griffey’s contract, potentially richer than first thought, shows the Mariners realize the boon the beloved slugger’s return could become to the franchise’s bottom line.

Notes

Third baseman Adrian Beltre said he was still undecided on whether he’ll play in the World Baseball Classic for the Dominican Republic. The Mariners are leaving the choice up to him, but they advised the two-time Gold Glove winner not to play following September surgery on his thumb and non-throwing shoulder. “We discouraged him,” Wakamatsu said, relaying information from a meeting general manager Jack Zduriencik had with Beltre the day before. The WBC published final rosters late Tuesday. Beltre was listed for the Dominican Republic. … Right-hander Brandon Morrow started opposite Bedard in the intrasquad game and got two outs. He allowed three hits, one walk and two unearned runs. The Mariners are leaving Morrow as a starter, after converting him from reliever last summer. … With second baseman Jose Lopez leaving next week to play for Venezuela in the WBC and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt still nursing a sore hamstring, former Chicago Cubs starter Ronny Cedeno will get plenty of playing time in the first exhibition games. Those start today against Jake Peavy and the San Diego Padres.

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