PEORIA, Ariz. -- After dealing with a stiff back for most of the past week, Mariners right-hander Brandon Maurer threw a strong bullpen session Thursday and was relieved to feel fine Friday morning as he resumes preparation for the regular season.
Maurer, 23, was scheduled to throw his first live batting practice last Friday, but was instead scratched. Several attempted returns were halted this week, as his back continued to flare up. But the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder was able to take the hill Thursday for a 36-pitch bullpen session and drew positive reviews.
"He threw really well," said trainer Rick Griffin. "[Pitching coach] Rick Waits said it was his best bullpen of the spring. He's scheduled Sunday to throw to live hitters. And after that, Rick will plug him into a game situation."
That's all music to the ears of Maurer, who is one of a handful of young pitchers competing for rotation berths this year. He went 5-8 with a 6.20 ERA in 22 games (14 starts) last year having never competed above Double-A ball before earning a starting job with a strong spring.
With experience under his belt, Maurer was ready to show what he could do this spring, but has been unable to really get started until now.
"It felt good, real good," Maurer said. "It was exciting to get back out there. It felt real free."
Maurer said he'll step right back into his throwing program and expects to be back in the flow fairly quickly.
"Spring is also a time to work out the kinks, so better now than during the season," he said.