ANAHEIM -- Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan was back in the lineup Friday for the series opener with the Angels after missing four games with a bruised left elbow.
Ryan, 30, hadn't played since the seventh inning of Saturday's game at Yankee Stadium when he got hit by a Hideki Kuroda fastball.
Ryan said the elbow still has a little swelling, but it eventually loosened up as he took early batting practice.
"It's good enough," he said. "With the off-day [Thursday], I was definitely pushing to get in there today and see where I'm at. I wasn't sure after the first round of BP, but I took some more swings and it got better. I can't do anything to make it worse, so let's do it."
Ryan is now wearing an elbow guard for the first time since high school. How long will he wear the bulky elbow protection?
"I think forever," he said. "I don't want to go through that again."
Ryan is batting just .204 on the season but has been much better of late, hitting .274 (32-for-117) in 40 games since June 16.
"When you're hitting .200 and get hurt, you want to be able to get back in that lineup so things can get better," he said. "Nothing good happens sitting on the bench."
The Mariners will welcome back his glove more than anything. Ryan leads American League shortstops with a .993 fielding percentage, having committed just three errors all season, and has the top UZR (ultimate zone rating) in the AL at 15.2 with 25 runs saved.
"He'd been helping us offensively the past month-plus," manager Eric Wedge said. "We hadn't won a game since he hadn't been in there, so take that for what it's worth. But he's an impact player in the middle of our diamond, and he brings a lot of energy on top of that."