ST. PETERSBURG -- An eight-minute throwing session from 60 feet on flat ground Wednesday afternoon at Tropicana Field drew a lot of attention. The focus was on right-handed reliever J.J. Putz -- who was throwing a baseball for the first time since April 1, when he suffered a rib injury while pitching in the ninth inning against the Rangers at Safeco Field. "We have some good news," manager John McLaren said. "J.J. felt good and we were happy with what we saw. It started my day off good. We'll see how he feels [on Thursday], and continue the program."
Though the return of Putz to the Mariners bullpen remains uncertain, having him playing a game of catch with head trainer Rick Griffin was a big step in the recovery process. "It was pretty intense and everything went well," the All-Star closer said afterwards. "I didn't feel anything." If he feels OK on Thursday, he'll have another throwing session prior to the Mariners' series finale against the Rays, a routine that will continue on a day-to-day basis. "As long as it's pain-free, I'll keep throwing," Putz said. It appears unlikely that even in the best-case scenario Putz would be ready to come off the 15-day disabled list when he's eligible -- which is next Thursday, when the Mariners are in Oakland for the final game of a two-game series. "It's too soon to have any idea," Putz said of his return. "I've been told that with something like this, if you don't let it heal, come back too soon and injure it again, then you are really screwed. What's a few more days now compared to two weeks or a month later on? That's the reason the organization is not rushing his recovery process. "We are taking the safe approach rather than an aggressive approach," McLaren said. "I really don't know when he will back. I don't want to speculate." An impatient person by nature, Putz said he has been going "stir crazy" the past week. "I want to pitch tomorrow, but I know I have to be patient," he said.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.