SEATTLE -- Left-hander Erik Bedard, who has not pitched in a game since July 15, has been cleared to throw 40 to 50 pitches on Monday for the Mariners' Rookie League team in Peoria, Ariz.

"If that goes well," manager Don Wakamatsu said on Friday, "we're looking at the following Saturday stretching it out to about 60 to 65 pitches."

There still is no timetable set for Bedard's return to the Mariners' starting rotation, but the way he feels after pitching in a competitive situation will give a good indication of how far he has come, and how far he needs to go.

"He's been probably as happy as I've seen him in a long time," Wakamatsu said. "We talked about 10 months and we're at that point right now. The bullpens have gone well. The [simulated] game went well. He's pretty excited and he feels good."

Meanwhile, right-hander Doug Fister (arm fatigue) threw a bullpen on Friday and will throw 50 to 60 pitches for Triple-A Tacoma on Sunday.

He is expected to return to the rotation during the three-game Interleague series against the Brewers in Milwaukee. Wakamatsu said Fister would start either the first or second game of the three-game series.

Reds' Rhodes returns to Seattle

SEATTLE -- Nine years after going through an entire season unbeaten with a sub-2.00 ERA, Reds left-hander Arthur Rhodes returned to Safeco Field on Friday on a roll reminiscent of that 2001 season.

The Mariners won an American League-record 116 games and Rhodes contributed an 8-0 record and 1.72 ERA in 71 appearances.

"I think about 2001 every day," he said. "There were a lot of veteran guys on that team. We all played together and everyone chipped in. the hitters, the starting pitchers, the bullpen. Everybody did their job."

Rhodes is doing some kind of job for his new team.

The 40-year-old has allowed just one run the entire season -- a solo home run by the Cubs Jeff Baker -- in his second relief appearance of the season. He has pitched 27 consecutive scoreless innings coming into this three-game series.

"I'm just doing the same thing every day," he said. "I come to the park, sit in front of my locker, watch TV, go work out, go on the field for batting practice and have fun."

Has he changed since '01?

"My fastball is not like it was back then, 95-96 miles per hour," he said, "but I'm still throwing 92-93, hitting my spots and using my breaking ball."

Rhodes is one of five pitchers from the '01 team still pitching -- and the second-oldest, a title that belongs to Jamie Moyer, 47 and still going strong with the Phillies.

Rhodes has no plans to retire anytime soon.

"I am going to make him get out of the game before I get out," he said, smiling.

Has he told Moyer about it?

"No, I haven't," he said. "But he will know in about two weeks when we play them."

Mariners activate Sweeney from DL

SEATTLE -- The Mariners took the first step toward emptying their overloaded disabled list before Friday's opener against the Reds by activating Mike Sweeney.

Sweeney, used primarily as a designated hitter, had been sidelined since June 3 with lower back inflammation. He took batting practice with the team and showed no ill-effects, giving the Mariners enough confidence to restore him and option left-hander Luke French to Triple-A Tacoma to make room.

Before the injury, Sweeney hit .258 with six home runs (tied for the team lead with Milton Bradley) and 16 RBIs, giving him the fourth-best batting average among players with at least 75 at-bats.

Meanwhile, after excelling with Tacoma to earn a callup, French struggled in the big leagues. In three appearances (one start) and 9 2/3 innings, he posted a 7.45 ERA. He allowed four runs in each of his last two outings.

Sweeney's bat will be a welcome addition to the Mariners' lineup, but manager Don Wakamatsu said he didn't know when the slugger would return to frequent action.

"He's been off for a while," Wakamatsu said. "We want to make sure we get him some batting practice. He's been taking it and he says he feels fine, but we want to give him a little extra work out here moving around the bases, and he'll be available as a pinch-hitter."

Seattle also sent catcher Josh Bard to Tacoma on a rehab assignment. He's been on the DL since May 28 with a strained calf.

Worth noting

Shortstop Jack Wilson, (hamstring) played seven innings for Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday and was scheduled to play nine innings on Friday night and nine more on Saturday. He will take Sunday and Monday off and the Mariners will decide then whether or not to activate him from the 15-day disabled list. ... Catcher Adam Moore is improving but probably will be sidelined for at least two more rehab games. ... One of the largest crowds of the season filled Safeco Field in Friday's series opener with the Reds, a crowd bolstered by the Ichiro-Griffey "Cooperstown Bound" bobblehead. The first 30,000 fans received one.