ARLINGTON -- Mariners manager Eric Wedge gave shortstop Brendan Ryan a day off Tuesday because he thought he was pressing a little after getting off to a slow start at the plate with his new team, but Ryan has another theory about his early struggles.
The former St. Louis Cardinals infielder says he's being pitched to differently than he's used to, and it appears it will take time to adjust to the American League style of play.
Ryan said that in his three at-bats against Rangers starter Derek Holland on Monday night, he only saw three fastballs out of about 15 pitches.
The lighthearted Ryan said he's not making excuses, but is more bemused by the different pitching approach to a guy who hit .223 with two home runs a year ago for the Cardinals. Ryan, after going 1-for-12 (.083) in his first four games, was back in the lineup Wednesday against the Rangers.
"Last I checked, I'm not Babe Ruth," he said with a laugh. "I tend not to hurt you with a hard single. Give me a heater to hit at some point, goodness gracious. So it's an approach thing, and it's also learning the sequencing and who is throwing the ball."
Ryan, 26, says Jack Wilson warned him when he was first acquired by the Mariners in the offseason to prepare for a noticeable change.
"He said, 'Get ready to hit offspeed stuff,'" Ryan said. "I said, 'All right, but they still have to throw the heater.' But maybe they don't. I don't know. I'm finding out that may not be the case. I guess I'll find out, but I've seen a lot of offspeed stuff thrown so far.
"I'm talking to [Adam] Kennedy, I'm talking to [Jack] Cust, I'm talking to [Chone] Figgins, guys who've seen these guys before or understand the style of the pitch calling and sequencing and all that stuff."
In his first at-bat Wednesday, Ryan got two fastballs out of seven pitches from C.J. Wilson, finally lifting a slider into left field for a sacrifice fly to score the first Mariners run.
Kennedy filling critical utility role
ARLINGTON -- After going 2-for-4 with a double on Tuesday, utility man Adam Kennedy was back on the bench Wednesday as Eric Wedge returned to his normal starting lineup.
That's the way it's going to be for Kennedy, who'll fill in at second and third base on occasion, and can also be a late-inning defensive replacement at first or even in the outfield, as needed.
Wedge will pick his spots for the 35-year-old veteran, using him against right-handed starters when he's looking to give players a break. It's not a simple job, Wedge knows.
"To go out and do what Adam Kennedy did last night is not easy," Wedge said. "That's one of the reasons he's on this club. He is a veteran. He is a pro. And he's going to be able to handle that. A lot of that is just where you are mentally and physically when you're not playing. I've always had a great deal of respect for that role.
"He's the type of player, with his presence, who just helps other players get better and figure it out quicker."
After sitting for four games, Kennedy said it was good to get some swings against live pitching and see where he's at after a solid spring.
"I felt OK," he said. "Just trying to go out there and grind it out and help the team."
And what has he seen from that team? Mostly an offense that has just missed putting together that one timely hit to break things open.
"That's a good thing and a bad thing," he said. "We're right there. We just need to keep knocking on that door. We'll get it."
Aardsma continuing on road to return
ARLINGTON -- Injured Mariners closer David Aardsma threw 35 pitches Wednesday in his fourth bullpen session since he began rehabbing from offseason hip surgery, and he said he now feels close to where he normally does at the start of Spring Training.
Aardsma is on the 15-day disabled list and likely won't be back until sometime in May. He said he'll take a couple of days off and then throw another bullpen session this weekend in Seattle, but doesn't know what the plan is from there.
Aardsma had bullpen coach Jaime Navarro stand in as a hitter and take pitches Wednesday in order to begin getting the feel for pitching to batters again.
"It went well. I struck him out looking," Aardsma said with a grin, given Navarro was simply taking pitches.
While the Mariners have declined to put any timeline on Aardsma's return after initially saying he might only miss the first two weeks of the season, the veteran closer gave some clue by indicating he's just starting to feel like he normally does at the start of camp.
"I would put myself probably right around the first week of spring," he said. "I feel good. I always come into Spring Training ready, and make sure I'm full-go by Day 1 of spring every year. I would say I'm right at the beginning.
"I have a really good feel on my fastball, but I'm working on location. But that's never been one of my great things as it is. I can feel it, but it's really the slider that is still a little off."