Morrow returns to Mariners bullpen

Morrow returns to Mariners bullpen

OAKLAND -- Another key piece of the Mariners bullpen fell into place on Wednesday when right-hander Brandon Morrow returned from the Minor Leagues, ready and willing to add some late-inning firepower.

"I'm ready to go wherever they need me," the 23-year-old reliever said.

Morrow replaces left-handed starter Erik Bedard on the 25-man roster. Bedard was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, retroactive to April 9, with inflammation in his left hip.

Getting a healthy Morrow back further bolsters a 'pen that finally is taking the kind of shape expected going into Spring Training. Veteran left-hander Arthur Rhodes joined the team on Monday and contributed one-third of an inning in Tuesday night's victory over the Royals at Safeco Field.

Morrow, who appeared 60 games last season, was slowed by biceps tendinitis during Spring Training and was sent to Double-A West Tennessee to work himself into shape. He made six scoreless appearances, striking out eight in 7 1/3 innings.

"He's ready to roll and every day we're that much closer to getting everybody back," manager John McLaren said.

Next in line, perhaps, is closer J.J. Putz. He's eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Thursday, but that's not going to happen. However, it could be just a matter of days before he can return to action.

Putz threw 41 pitches off the bullpen mound at McAfee Coliseum prior to Wednesday night's game against the Athletics and was pleased with the results.

"Everything felt good," he said. "There's nothing set in stone, but depending on how I feel [on Thursday], I'll throw a simulated game on Saturday. After that, I have no idea."

This was the second time Putz, sidelined since the second game of the regular season with a rib injury, has thrown off a mound.

"I felt a lot sharper than the first one, obviously," he said.

The Mariners have taken it one day at a time with Putz, making sure he doesn't aggravate the injury and go back to square one.

"I am really, really excited to get back out there," he said. "I am bored out of my mind."

That being said, being smart and patient are the keys.

"I want to stay the course and do what the training staff has planned and not get ahead of myself," Putz said. "For the most part, it has been easy. We have been aggressive with it, but smart at the same time."

Putz, who had 40 saves in 42 save chances last season when he stamped himself as one of the best closers in the Major Leagues, actually is ahead of the pace he had in 2007, when his first save and save opportunity came on April 23. The right-hander had save chances in the Mariners' first two games this season, registering a save on Opening Day and blowing a save the following night when he suffered the rib injury.

Jim Street is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.