PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners closer David Aardsma, recovering from hip labrum surgery in early January, took another small step toward returning on Wednesday when he played catch for the first time.
Aardsma hadn't thrown a ball since having his hip repaired, so it was welcome news when trainer Rick Griffin informed him shortly before Wednesday morning's workout that it was time to start some soft toss.
"He felt good, so it was a good start," Griffin said.
Meanwhile, Chris Ray, one of the pitchers in the mix to fill in at closer until Aardsma's return, threw 29 pitches in a simulated inning against Minor League hitters on the club's main practice field later in the morning as he tested a sore calf.
Ray has pitched two innings of Cactus League action, giving up one run and two hits, but threw in a controlled situation Wednesday with general manager Jack Zduriencik, manager Eric Wedge and two members of the training staff present.
Wedge said Ray will either throw another simulated game or be worked back into Cactus League action, depending on how his calf reacts.
Ray, who had Tommy John surgery in 2007 after saving 49 games for the Orioles in 2006-07, said he was "just getting work" and that everything is fine.
"My arm has been great. I've been throwing every day," he said.
Ray faced five hitters in his simulated inning, striking out four and giving up what likely would have been a single to right. He froze the last batter he faced twice with a curveball that is just becoming more of his repertoire.
"My slider is my second pitch," he said. "I started throwing a curveball about two months into last year for the first time and had a lot of success with it. It's one of those things where guys either take it all the way or mis-hit it because they've never seen me throw it before."