There are volumes of statistics and video of every Major League batter at his beck and call, but Mariners left-hander Erik Bedard prefers to pitch the old-fashioned way -- on his own. He says he doesn't watch film or pay much attention to the scouting report. "That's the way I have always done it. I pitch my game," the new Seattle ace said. "When I do badly, people say, 'It's the wrong thing to do and he should do those things,' but it has worked for me."
The philosophy Bedard used during his nine-year career with the Orioles moves to Seattle on Monday afternoon when he makes his regular-season debut against the Rangers at a packed Safeco Field on Opening Day. He'll be opposed in the 3:40 p.m. PT game by Rangers right-hander Kevin Millwood. The Mariners traded five players to the Orioles for Bedard a couple of months ago, believing he could be the ring-leader in a rotation that looks terrific -- on paper -- from top to bottom. The 29-year-old won nine of his final 10 decisions last season before being injured in August. He finished the season with a 13-5 record, 3.16 ERA and 221 strikeouts in 182 innings, and has a 40-34 record and 3.83 ERA in 114 Major League appearances -- all but three of them as a starter. His hits-to-innings pitched ratio -- 627-to-658 -- is outstanding. Manager John McLaren, who named Bedard as the Opening Day starter the day pitchers and catchers reported to camp, says the left-handed Bedard "doesn't have a problem with righties or lefties." "He's got a strikeout pitch for both hitters -- that wicked curveball," McLaren said. "It doesn't make a difference if you're right or left. He changes locations, it breaks late, hard and down. He has a feel for pitching, doesn't nibble, goes right after the hitters and is a good competitor. He has no fear."
He's a quiet competitor.In fact, a church mouse is a rabble-rouser compared to Bedard. It's virtually impossible to tell whether he's having a good day or a bad day. "I hide my emotions," he said. "I've always been that way. Some people like it, especially pitching coaches, and some people don't. I get excited before I pitch every game, whether it's Opening Day, or any other day. "You guys [media] make a big deal out of Opening Day, but it's just one day in the season. It's no different than any other game. At least that's the way I look at it." This will be Bedard's second straight Opening Day assignment. He received considerable offensive support last season when the Orioles beat the Rays, 16-6, in the opener at Camden Yards. It was the first of his four straight victories coming out of the gate. The Mariners would gladly take a similar start this season.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.