Lee, Bedard progressing well

Lee, Bedard progressing well

OAKLAND -- The news keeps getting better for Mariners left-handers Cliff Lee and Erik Bedard, who started the season on the 15-day disabled list.

Lee, sidelined since March 15 with a strained lower abdominal muscle, threw eight pitches off the bullpen mound at the Oakland Coliseum Wednesday afternoon and pronounced himself ready to have a more vigorous bullpen session on Friday.

"I threw pretty hard, pretty close to maximum effort and everything feels normal," he said. "I'll throw a bullpen on Friday [in Arlington] and go from there."

The brief Wednesday session basically was a test run. Lee had not been on a mound since March 18, and how he reacts to Friday's BP session would give the team more of an idea as to how soon he could make his regular-season debut.

"He threw eight pitches off the mound and says he's ready to pitch," manager Don Wakamatsu said. "He'll go 25 pitches off the rubber on Friday and we'll try to stretch him out to 40 the next time.

"The challenge is going to be holding him back to make sure we're safe."

General manager Jack Zduriencik said Lee, acquired from the Phillies for three players last December, would continue to take "baby steps" until he's completely healthy.

"Everybody was real pleased with what they saw and he said he felt good, but we want to make sure he's ready to roll when he's ready to roll," the GM said. "But today was very positive, very positive."

Bedard, meanwhile, continues to progress from the shoulder surgery he had last August to repair a torn labrum. He also threw a bullpen on Wednesday.

"He feels great and may be ahead [of Lee] in a sense," Wakamatsu said.

Mariners pitching coach Rick Adair has made some mechanical changes in Bedard's delivery and they seem to be working. The changes have taken some of the pressure off Bedard's shoulder and arm.

Both pitchers are expected to throw some simulated games and then go on rehab assignments to the Minor Leagues.

Lee tentatively is scheduled to throw a simulated game next Wednesday at Safeco Field, take a couple of days off and then throw another two-inning simulated game.

Lee figures to be recalled after reaching the 75- to 80-pitch count in the Minors. But he also faces a five-game suspension for throwing a pitch over the head of D-backs catcher Chris Snyder on March 15.

Lee appealed the suspension, which has yet to be resolved.