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Mariners blog

Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

March 12, 2007 at 9:31 AM

Putz takes step forward

Larry Stone here. I get to step in and make an emergency start in the blog rotation while Geoff “The Top Dog of Blog” Baker takes some well-deserved time off, and Greg Bishop works on other projects. This is a whole new world to this old-timer, so I’m learning as I go. Please be gentle.
I’ve actually been in Peoria for a couple of days already, spending a very enjoyable time watching baseball with my 7-year-old son, Jordan, and brother-in-law, Robert. Jordan’s a big Sammy Sosa fan (I haven’t told him about the cork yet, or the, uh, other stuff), so our first stop was Surprise on Friday to see the Rangers play the Cubs. Then we watched the Mariners-Angels in Tempe on Saturday, and Mariners-Giants in Scottsdale on Sunday. I took Jordan and Robert to the airport Sunday night, and here I am at Mariners’ camp Monday morning.
The big news today is that J.J. Putz, who hasn’t pitched in eight days because of stiffness in his right elbow, played catch this morning and said it went “real well.” Putz also threw on Sunday without pain, and is confident he will be ready to start the season.
That’s huge for the Mariners, because it’s hard to envision who the closer would be if Putz was out. Chris Reitsma, with 37 career saves, would seem to be the logical choice, but he struggled as closer in Atlanta and lost the job. The pitcher on the staff with the most success closing is Miguel Batista (31 saves for Toronto in 2005), but I don’t think the Mariners want to take him out of their rotation.
It’s a problem they don’t want to have to face, and they’re hopeful they won’t. The next step, of course, is for Putz to pitch in a game again, which could happen by the weekend or early next week, if he continues to progress well.
“As soon as they (the Mariners’ medical staff) did the test for strength and everything was there, it was just inflamed, I knew it was just a matter of taking a couple of days and being smart about it, letting it calm down,” Putz said. “It has, and I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.”
OK, that’s my first effort. Now I’m going to go and watch some baseball so I can start to get a feel for this team again.

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