ARLINGTON, Texas – David Aardsma threw his fourth strong bullpen session on Wednesday, and if you don’t believe his assessment, ask bullpen coach Jaime Navarro.
Throwing to catcher Miguel Olivo with no one at the plate, Aardsma threw most of his 35 pitches to phantom hitters – and dominated them.
“I got a lot of strikeouts today,” he said.
Coming back from hip surgery in December, Aardsma now said he feels about like he would the first week of spring training.
“I’m right about at the beginning, like I would be coming into camp in great shape with my arm strong,” Aardsma said. “I’ve got good velocity. My location is still coming around.”
Still, the last 10 pitches or so, Aardsma asked Navarro to stand at the plate in the bullpen so he could get a feel for the hitter.
“I struck Jaime out a couple of times, too,” Aardsma said. “Looking!”
That would be because Navarro didn’t have a bat.
Adam Moore got his second start of the season – in the Mariners’ sixth game Wednesday in Texas. That third start may be a ways off.
Moore suffered what appeared to be a knee injury chasing a ball behind home plate in the eighth inning. He’ll have tests today in Seattle to help determine the extent of the injury.
What’s worse, now manager Eric Wedge will have a tougher time evaluating Moore’s value to the club.
“You can see him in the games he catches, but you can watch how he interacts with the pitching staff and Miguel Olivo,” Wedge said. “We want to let him get comfortable in his role, let him continue to make progress and see where we are.”
Wedge said he knows how hard the job of bench player is – and mentioned Adam Kennedy.
“The preparation for what they do is tougher than the preparation of regulars,” Wedge said. “They’ve got to be ready to play every day, knowing that most days they won’t.
“Adam’s role is not easy, it’s one of the toughest in the game. One of the things you want to see is how he deals with it.”
WRIGHT ON A ROLL
Jamey Wright is a reliever on a roll – 12 consecutive scoreless innings in spring training, 2 more since the 2011 season opened.
So why was he hunched over a computer Wednesday morning, studying every pitch he’d thrown a night earlier in another scoreless outing?
“When you’re on the mound, every pitch you throw looks straight,” he said. “On tape, you can see how the pitch moves and, more importantly, how the batter reacts to it. You can see mistakes in your delivery, things you can improve on.”
The Rangers could do nothing with the 36-year-old journeyman. Still, Wright found faults with his effort.
“I didn’t like the way my curve was moving, and I wasn’t happy with my sinker,” Wright said. “When guys are hitting fly balls on the sinker, it’s not doing what it’s supposed to do.”
Wright may be something of a perfectionist, but that may be one of the reasons he pitched so well in spring training and made the team.
Michael Pineda’s six-inning effort Tuesday made him the first Mariners starter to get a quality start (at least six innings, four runs or fewer) in his major league debut since Joel Piñeiro in 2000. … Felix Hernandez turns 25 on Friday, and joined an elite group Wednesday by making the 174th start of his career – just the ninth pitcher since 1900 to start more than 172 games before his 25th birthday, joining Bert Blyleven, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, Larry Dierker, Catfish Hunter, Dwight Gooden, Bob Feller and Hal Newhouser.
Seattle has today off before its home opener at 7:10 p.m. Friday at Safeco Field.