TACOMA – It has been almost a year since Erik Bedard pitched in a major league game.
But after his performance during a rehab assignment for Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday, the 31-year-old appears to be ready to make his 2010 debut for the Mariners.
The left-hander, who last threw in the majors on July 15, 2009, after suffering a torn labrum in his shoulder that required surgery, gave up one run (unearned) on three hits, walked three and struck out three over 4 1/3 innings for the Rainiers in a 2-1 win over Portland.
To understand just how ready he is to make his return to the major leagues, all anyone needed to see was the smile and upbeat demeanor he carried around the clubhouse after the game.
“I feel pretty good,” said Bedard, who made his first start for Tacoma after two appearances in Arizona. “I worked on the change-up. That’s what they wanted me to work on and throw strikes with it, so it’s pretty good.”
Bedard, who threw 81 pitches (51 for strikes), said he expects to make his first start for Seattle on Tuesday against Kansas City at Safeco Field.
“I’m just trying to help the team win,” said Bedard, who has a career record of 51-41 with a 3.71 earned-run average. “That’s pretty much the point of trying to get back.”
Bedard said he never lost confidence that he would return.
“I’ve bounced back from a couple of different surgeries before, so I didn’t really have any worries about it,” he said.
He looked sharp right away against the Beavers, getting the first pitch of the game over for a strike against Cedric Hunter. Bedard then froze the left fielder with a 0-2 curveball.
“I just threw strikes,” Bedard said.
After retiring the side in order in the first – he needed just 10 pitches, nine of them strikes – Bedard walked first baseman Craig Cooper on eight pitches to open the second. Then, with two outs, he gave up an infield single to Kyle Phillips. But Portland didn’t score.
“The main thing is, he felt good after the start,” Tacoma manager Daren Brown said.
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