ARLINGTON -- Left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith took a big step back toward the Mariners' starting rotation on Tuesday afternoon with a simulated game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
"Today was my first chance to face hitters who were actually swinging, and that was good," Rowland-Smith said after throwing 33 pitches to teammates Franklin Gutierrez, Ronny Cedeno and Rob Johnson. "I went out there and mentally tried to make it seem like a real game.
"I went to the bullpen to warm up, took my time between pitches in the sim game and pretended there were baserunners. It went really well. My arm feels great."
Rowland-Smith said the best part of the session was "facing hitters, seeing some swings-and-misses and getting ground balls and stuff. You feel like you are actually a baseball player again, not just a cheerleader on the top step of the dugout."
Rowland-Smith has been recovering from triceps tendinitis for more than a month.
He broke camp as the fifth starter and pitched against the Athletics in Oakland on April 10, going 3 1/3 innings. He has been sidelined ever since.
The game plan is for the lefty to throw a bullpen session on Thursday and then begin a short rehab stint at extended spring training in Peoria, Ariz. He would then travel to Triple-A Tacoma for perhaps two starts before returning to the Mariners.
"It could change, but I have it all written down on a calendar," he said. "I'll probably be back [with the Mariners] at the end of the month."
Manager Don Wakamatsu was pleased with Tuesday's workout.
"He has made some adjustments in his mechanics, and I think he has improved," the manager said. "What I was looking for was the reaction of the hitters and his command. I thought he stayed behind the ball well today, and his breaking ball had late break."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.