Erik Bedard is scheduled to pitch an inning today in the charity game between the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres – which would be one inning more than he had all of spring 2010.
What will mean?
For one thing, the issue today isn’t whether Bedard is healthy – he is. Under pitching coach Carl Willis, the lefty hasn’t missed a drill or bullpen session all spring.
Manager Eric Wedge isn’t holding Bedard back, isn’t worrying about his elbow or shoulder, his hip or his attitude. This spring, Bedard is here to prove he can pitch, not that he’s healthy.
Signed to a low-risk contract last winter, Bedard wanted to return to Seattle more than he wanted to pitch in any of the other teams that showed interest. He feels he has something to prove to the fans who watched him make all of 30 starts over three seasons as a Mariner.
Is he a new man, a seven-inning, No. 2 starter who will pick up where Felix Hernandez leaves off? Probably not.
What Bedard has always been is an effective pitcher when he’s been able to take the mound. No, he’s never won 20 games. never pitched 200 innings in a season. And it’s possible Bedard will break camp not as Seattle’s No. 2 man in the rotation but as it’s No. 3 or No. 4 starter.
That would be fine with the Mariners and fine with Bedard, who each want the same thing: A season of health. Give them that, Bedard will be a plus.
So when he takes the mound today, it won’t be to prove anything or silence critics. For the first time in two years, Bedard will simply be going to work, and loving it. He has had no stiffness this spring, no pain or catch in his delivery.
Bedard is, like 30 others in camp, a pitcher building arm strength, day by day. That will work.