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.
Close games still the norm
OAKLAND -- Manager Don Wakamatsu became a little thinner under his baseball cap last season when the Mariners had 53 percent of their games decided by one or two runs.
They tied a club record with 86 one- or two-run games, won an MLB-leading 35 one-run games and combined to go 51-35 overall.
Here we go again.
The first two games in 2010 were decided by either one or two runs with the Mariners scoring two runs in the ninth inning for a 5-3 victory and then dropping a walk-off, 2-1, 10-inning decision to the Athletics on Tuesday night.
"I enjoy playing one-run games," he said. "I think it's healthy for the game. Would I rather have 10 runs a game? Absolutely. But I don't mind [close games]. If our pitching is where we think it can be, we should be in a lot of ballgames."
One Franklin not enough
OAKLAND -- Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez is swinging one of the few hot bats for the Mariners.
He's the only player with more than one hit in the first two games of the season, going 2-for-4 in Tuesday night's extra-inning loss to the Athletics.
Gutierrez extended his hitting streak to seven games, dating back to the final week of the 2009 season. He is batting .385 (10-for-26) with four doubles, four RBIs and six runs scored.
The extra-inning game on Tuesday night was the earliest the Mariners have played overtime since opening the 1996 season with a 12-inning game against the White Sox. Seattle won it, 3-2. Seven years later, the Mariners and Athletics battled for 11 innings before Oakland notched a 7-6 walk-off victory in the third game of the season. ... One-third of catcher Adam Moore's career starts have gone extra innings. He has started six games and two of them have gone beyond nine innings. The first game Moore started lasted 14 frames. ... The Mariners had 11 hits in their first two games, but no more than one in the same inning. ... The error charged to third baseman Jose Lopez on Tuesday night was changed to a base hit on Wednesday morning by the official scorer.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.