Thursday, July 17, 2008
Chances of Bedard getting traded slim
SEATTLE -- The chances Erik Bedard will be traded soon by the Mariners are now as slim as the prospects for a happy finish to Seattle's lost season.
Manager Jim Riggleman said Thursday his ailing ace, rumored to be coveted by contenders despite a demonstrated inability to last in his 15 starts, likely will not pitch early next week against Boston as originally hoped. That means Bedard would have just one start before the non-waiver trading deadline July 31 -- assuming the left-hander's pitching shoulder is healthy again by then.
Major league rules prohibit teams from trading players while they are on the disabled list, unless such a deal is expressly approved by the commissioner. Bedard, 6-4 with a 3.67 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 81 innings, is eligible to come off the DL Sunday.
"We want to get him going, but we don't want to rush him," Riggleman said as his last-place team came back from its All-Star break for a workout prior to resuming Friday night against Cleveland.
"The perception is that Erik hasn't given us a lot, or as much as he should. But really, maybe he's given us more than he should have."
Riggleman listed the left hip inflammation that put Bedard on the DL from April 9-26, then assorted pains he pitched through before this shoulder injury that has kept him out since July 4. Bedard came to Seattle from Baltimore in February for five players, including now-Orioles All-Star reliever George Sherrill. His contract is under club control through 2009.
The Philadelphia Phillies, thought to be a potential suitor for Bedard, acquired right-hander Joe Blanton instead on Thursday for three minor leaguers.
Bedard's flight back from Ottawa was delayed by weather, so the manager still didn't know when Bedard would even be able to throw again.
"We should know more in two or three days," Riggleman said.
For now, he has Miguel Batista starting Monday against the Red Sox and said "my guess" is that R.A. Dickey will start Tuesday. Felix Hernandez, left-hander Jarrod Washburn -- now the starter most likely to be dealt -- and Carlos Silva are starting over the weekend against the Indians.
Seattle's sidelined closer, J.J. Putz, will pitch for Triple-A Tacoma Friday night as part of rehabilitation for an elbow injury that has had him on the disabled list since June 12. Putz, an All-Star last season, has struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness this season.
Also Friday, the Mariners will make an incremental move toward 2009 by promoting left-handed hitting first baseman Bryan LaHair from Tacoma, to fill the roster place of infielder Tug Hulett. Hulett, selected July 10 from Tacoma, was optioned back to the Rainiers on Thursday after playing in one game for Seattle.
Riggleman said the 25-year-old LaHair, who was batting .263 with 12 home runs and 53 RBIs in 85 games at Triple A, would have been promoted July 10 when the Mariners released first baseman Richie Sexson, if LaHair hadn't had an injured foot then.
He will become the fifth starter at the position this season.
"LaHair will get in there a lot against right-handed pitching," Riggleman said, referring to the situations in which Sexson failed for Seattle.
Sexson and the New York Yankees agreed to a deal for the rest of this season on Thursday.
Miguel Cairo and Jose Vidro are currently the primary options at first base against left-handers, whom Seattle will face all weekend against Cleveland. Vidro, batting just .215 with an anemic .310 slugging percentage and 38 RBIs in 72 games, now seems even more overdue for a release with LaHair arriving.
LaHair's eyes were wide as he spent his first minutes in a major league clubhouse Thursday.
"Wow! It was absolutely amazing walking in here today. A dream come true," said a beaming LaHair, a 39th-round draft choice in 2002.
It was a rare Mariners dream this season that wasn't a nightmare.