ANAHEIM -- Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan was back in the lineup Friday for the series opener with the Angels after missing four games with a bruised left elbow.

Ryan, 30, hadn't played since the seventh inning of Saturday's game at Yankee Stadium when he got hit by a Hideki Kuroda fastball.

Ryan said the elbow still has a little swelling, but it eventually loosened up as he took early batting practice.

"It's good enough," he said. "With the off-day [Thursday], I was definitely pushing to get in there today and see where I'm at. I wasn't sure after the first round of BP, but I took some more swings and it got better. I can't do anything to make it worse, so let's do it."

Ryan is now wearing an elbow guard for the first time since high school. How long will he wear the bulky elbow protection?

"I think forever," he said. "I don't want to go through that again."

Ryan is batting just .204 on the season but has been much better of late, hitting .274 (32-for-117) in 40 games since June 16.

"When you're hitting .200 and get hurt, you want to be able to get back in that lineup so things can get better," he said. "Nothing good happens sitting on the bench."

The Mariners will welcome back his glove more than anything. Ryan leads American League shortstops with a .993 fielding percentage, having committed just three errors all season, and has the top UZR (ultimate zone rating) in the AL at 15.2 with 25 runs saved.

"He'd been helping us offensively the past month-plus," manager Eric Wedge said. "We hadn't won a game since he hadn't been in there, so take that for what it's worth. But he's an impact player in the middle of our diamond, and he brings a lot of energy on top of that."

Capps more comfortable in second appearance

ANAHEIM -- Mariners rookie Carter Capps isn't exactly a seasoned veteran yet, but the hard-throwing right-hander said he felt much more at ease in his second Major League appearance on Wednesday when he threw two scoreless innings against the Orioles.

"I was a lot more comfortable out there," Capps said Friday prior to Seattle's series opener against the Angels. "It felt like baseball again instead of all the debut stuff."

Capps gave up a single in each of the fifth and sixth innings after replacing Kevin Millwood, but then got away unscathed. He struck out Mark Reynolds and Nick Markakis in the process and was consistently hitting 97-100 mph on the radar gun with his fastball while mixing in a 90-mph changeup.

"I really wanted him to be able to get through two innings," said manager Eric Wedge. "I wanted him to get back out there and see some secondary pitches and that second inning he threw some breaking balls and a changeup or two. It was a good day for him."

In his Major League debut in Yankee Stadium, the 22-year-old had given up two runs on a hit and a walk while getting only one out, so he was happy for the chance to show a little more of what he can do after making a quick rise from Double-A in the past few weeks.

"I was still trying to attack the zone, but I had a chance to throw more off-speed stuff and just pitch again, so that was good," he said.

Jaso takes 'strong-minded' approach to ups, downs

ANAHEIM -- The Mariners don't have a lot of veterans filling major roles as position players at the moment, so catcher John Jaso -- who went through playoff races the past two years with Tampa Bay -- might be as good a place as any to look for an experienced outlook.

And Jaso, 28, says the Mariners shouldn't panic in the face of a 1-5 start to their current road trip heading into Friday night's series opener against the Angels.

He notes Seattle is the same club that went 8-2 on its last homestand, but the sport -- by its nature -- carries a lot of ups and downs for every team.

"That's just the way baseball goes," Jaso said. "Look at the Indians right now. Look at anybody. The Yankees just went through a little losing streak there. It's nothing besides the way a current rolls in a baseball season.

"With the Rays, we came out of the gates 0-9 or something ridiculous and there hadn't been a team going to the playoffs since 1911 or something like that with that kind of start. [Manager Joe] Maddon said we'd reset the clock on that and we did. It's just the way it goes."

Do the young Mariners players understand?

"I'm sure everybody here knows that," Jaso said. "You just think about the big leagues, but in the Minors we play 140 games. There's a lot of that going on down there, too. Baseball seasons are long no matter what level you play at. Up here, it's just magnified a little more.

"There's no higher level, this is it, so it's a need-to-win sort of thing. The pressure gets put on. It could come from upstairs or whatever. It is a lot to handle. It's a career and all that stuff. But I think the good players know it's the way it goes. You ride out things and try to be as consistent as you can be. Just like at-bats, you have slumps and hot streaks. That's basically it. You just have to be strong-minded."

Worth noting

• Reliever Charlie Furbush will make his fourth rehab appearance for Triple-A Tacoma on Saturday in Memphis and then be re-evaluated as he continues working back from a left biceps strain.

• With Tacoma on the road, center fielder Franklin Gutierrez is working out this weekend with the Class A Everett AquaSox. Mariners manager Eric Wedge said the best-case scenario is for Gutierrez to begin a Minor League rehab stint with Everett in a few days if he continues feeling well.

Gutierrez has been sidelined with headaches and an ear problem since getting hit with a pickoff throw on June 29. Wedge said there's no timetable on a potential return to the Mariners.

• Due to a conflict with the Seahawks' first exhibition game, Saturday's Mariners-Angels contest will be on KTTH 770-AM instead of 710 ESPN Seattle.