As reporters approached Ryan Rowland-Smith before Monday’s game to ask about his simulated game, Mike Sweeney took over as spokesman.
“I was watching, and out of 33 pitches, he threw one ball in the middle of the plate,” Sweeney said. “All the rest were on the corners. He’s been working out hard, and he had great flexibility, great extension with his elbow.”
Sweeney eventually confessed he hadn’t really seen Rowland-Smith pitch. “I was watching via satellite,” he joked.
Well, Sweeney had the number of pitches correct, and Rowland-Smith, who has been sidelined since April 11 with left triceps tendinitis, was indeed encouraged with his progress.
“My arm feels really good,” he said. “Now I just need to be patient, and let the routine play itself out.”
The routine calls for another bullpen session Thursday, after which Rowland-Smith will report to Arizona to throw in real games at extended spring training. He will also work with a new Mariners’ minor-league instructor, Rich Dorman, who was a minor-league teammate.
“He knows my mechanics, because we’d go back and forth talking about them,” he said.
If all goes well, Rowland-Smith is expected to pitch two games for Class AAA Tacoma before re-joining the Mariners at the end of the month. Asked if he expected to move right back into the rotation, Rowland-Smith replied, “Yeah, that’s what I’m expecting. Right now, I’ll let the routine play out, let my pitch count build up. I expect to be back in the rotation. If I’m not, just like last year, I’ll work my way into it.”
Mariners’ manager Don Wakamatsu, asked the same question — would Rowland-Smith go right back in the rotation — replied, “I would think so.”
Wakamatsu’s family will get to see him manage tonight in person for the first time, though he joked, “They watch me every night and critique me on TV.”