Garland ramps up his comeback efforts

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Veteran right-hander Jon Garland continued his bid to win a rotation spot with the Mariners with a strong three-inning outing in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch.

Garland, who hasn't pitched in a regular-season game since having shoulder surgery in 2011 when he was with the Dodgers, threw three innings of one-run ball with two hits and one walk. Garland, 33, has now allowed one run and five hits in six innings of Cactus League play in three outings.

"We're looking at him as a guy in here competing to make our club," manager Eric Wedge said. "He's been very impressive. I think today was his best day and he continues to push forward. As we continue to extend these starting pitchers, particularly the ones fighting to be on the ballclub, that's important to see."

The 12-year veteran acknowledged he's had to take an aggressive approach this spring as he comes in on a Minor League contract as a non-roster invitee.

"It's a lot different," he said, "because in the back of your mind you know you're fighting for a spot and trying to make the team, so you're going out there with every intention to try to put up as many zeroes and make as many pitches as you can.

"At the same time, you still want to try to work on some pitches and maybe throw a pitch in a certain count that you normally wouldn't. So it's a little weird, but it's good. It's good to get the juices flowing and get back in the swing of things."

Garland said Saturday's outing was a big step for him as he's wondered how his shoulder would react to throwing multiple innings.

"It really is because that was my main concern coming in," he said. "I was able to throw a bullpen, sit down, get up, throw, sit down, get up. But until you get that hitter in there and get the adrenaline going and get in that game situation where you're putting a little more effort behind it, it's definitely starting to build the confidence in my mind on that matter."

If Garland continues pitching well and proving himself healthy, he could provide the Mariners an interesting rotation option. Beyond Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Joe Saunders, Seattle doesn't have any veteran starters.

"He obviously knows how to pitch," said Wedge. "He's down, he's able to manipulate the baseball and he knows what he's trying to do out there. He threw the ball great today."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.