Bedard starts road back from surgery

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Erik Bedard passed his first brief test in his comeback from shoulder surgery, allowing only a groundball single during a scoreless inning in an intrasquad game Tuesday.

He then declared himself healthy and ready to pitch Friday in an exhibition game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Bedard threw 12 pitches, six to Bryan LaHair before he struck out the reserve first baseman to end his short morning.

"It was pretty good," Bedard said of his first work against hitters since surgery Sept. 26 to remove a cyst from his pitching shoulder and cut away some tissue.

Bedard is one month ahead of the typical, six-month recovery time from that procedure.

Asked if he felt healthy, Bedard said, "Yep."

The left-hander went 6-4 with a 3.67 ERA in 15 starts last season before the surgery. He didn't make a start after July 4.

A year ago, the Mariners traded five top prospects -- including George Sherrill, a closer they could now use -- to the Baltimore Orioles for Bedard.

He and the Mariners agreed last month on a $7.75 million, one-year contract that gave Bedard a raise of $750,000 and avoided salary arbitration. He is eligible for free agency after this season.

Bedard's raise could total more than $1.3 million if he stays healthy in 2009. He can make $600,000 in performance bonuses: $75,000 for 150 innings, $100,000 for 165 innings, $150,000 for 180 innings, $125,000 for 195 innings and $150,000 for 205 innings.

That all looks possible -- so far.

"He said it was great. Everything's good," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said of Bedard's outing Tuesday.

Bedard began throwing during the second week of December in his garage at his home near Navan, Ontario, off his portable plastic mound. By the first of the year, Bedard said the scar tissue had loosened and he felt pain-free, as he has since. He said his shoulder troubles are completely out of his mind.

Asked this month what the difference is between now and last year, he said simply: "It just doesn't hurt."