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04/19/08 9:43 PM ET

Putz throws sim game, close to return

Closer tosses 41 pitches, hopes to rejoin bullpen on Tuesday

ANAHEIM -- Right-handed closer J.J. Putz lost his voice on Saturday, but otherwise, all systems could be go following a 41-pitch simulated game at Angel Stadium moved him closer to rejoining the Mariners bullpen.

"I think I have some of that funk that's been going around," he said in a raspy voice. "I don't feel very good."

He was feeling much better about the way the simulated game went.

"I felt good, felt strong and my command was good," he said. "I was able to throw everything for strikes. Now, we'll wait and see how I feel tomorrow and probably make a decision on what to do."

Putz could come off the 15-day disabled list prior to Tuesday night's series opener against the Orioles at Safeco Field.

Sidelined since the second game of the regular season with a rib cage injury, Putz faced live hitters for the first time as teammates Willie Bloomquist, Miguel Cairo and Greg Norton took some cuts without a protective screen in front of Putz or a batting cage.

"He looked good, very good," pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre said. "The quality of all his pitches was good, and he worked some counts. The only pitch he might want back is the one he hit Bloomquist in the back."

Stottlemyre said Putz threw better during the simulated game than in any of his previous sessions.

"This is the best he has looked, the best he has thrown and we certainly have hopes for Tuesday," he said. "We'd love to get him back. We're slowly getting our bullpen back to full strength and that's exciting. He's the final guy."

In the past week, the Seattle bullpen has been bolstered by the return of veteran left-hander Arthur Rhodes and young setup man Brandon Morrow.

Meanwhile, left-handed starter Erik Bedard had a 38-pitch bullpen session and reported no problems with the inflammation in his left hip. He is scheduled to throw another BP session on Tuesday at Safeco Field. He is eligible to come off the 15-day DL next Thursday, which means he conceivably could start the series finale against the Orioles, his former team.

"Bedard threw the ball well," manager John McLaren said. "He had good breaking stuff, so both he and J.J. were very positive."

Asked whether he believes a pitcher coming off injury would benefit from at least one rehab outing in the Minor Leagues, McLaren said he didn't have a specific philosophy, "Unless someone has missed a month or something. Neither of them have missed that much.

"I'm not saying they won't do a rehab, but I don't think it's necessary."

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.