© 2011 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

02/21/11 5:45 PM EST

Aardsma close to ditching crutches

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners closer David Aardsma took a good step forward Monday. Quite a few steps, actually, as he left his crutches at his locker and ambled the 50 feet or so from the showers without any help after Monday's workout.

Since undergoing labrum surgery on his left hip in early January, Aardsma has been rehabilitating and working toward a mid-April return. For that to happen, he'll need to take the next step soon, which would mean being able to put his full weight on the hip without pain.

He said he's putting about 80 percent of his weight on the leg now, a noticeable improvement from last week.

"That doesn't mean I'm off the crutches on Wednesday. It just means I'm close," he said. "If I get sore, I'll need to back off. They said that is probably going to happen."

Aardsma has said all along he doesn't want to push too hard too soon, and wind up hurting himself further, so proper pace is critical.

He said he expects to be fully mobile again in a couple more days. And once he can fully walk, he'll begin playing catch and the throwing program that ultimately will determine his return.

"I'm tired of watching."

Pineda, other pitchers have the edge in live BP

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Like many hitters, Josh Wilson likes to just stand in the batter's box and take pitches, watch the flight of the ball, and work on his timing and eye the first day of live batting practice. But the veteran Mariners infielder also saw something else Monday as he stood in for the first time.

Michael Pineda, the man-mountain of a 22-year-old who has been the talk of Mariners camp so far, was on the mound for Wilson's initial at-bats. And Pineda is hard to miss.

"You can't see much behind him," Wilson said of the view from the box after facing the 6-foot-5, 240-pound youngster for the first time. "He's pretty big. Heck, if you're going to build a prototypical right-handed pitcher, I think he fits the mold. He's big, strong, throws over the top with a hard, heavy fastball, and backs it up with good offspeed stuff, too. He has all the makings."

Pineda broke Milton Bradley's bat on his second pitch Monday and was impressive throughout. Bradley later hit a ground ball to second, but that was about the only contact off Pineda in his 38 pitches, as Wilson and Franklin Gutierrez were among the batters who merely watched the ball on the first day.

Even the notoriously free-swinging Ichiro Suzuki didn't take a cut in his 10 pitches against Erik Bedard, who looked sharp in his own 33-pitch session.

Not all hitters were held in check, however. Shortstop Jack Wilson gets credit for the camp's first live-batting-practice home run, taking Garrett Olson deep to left field. And Carlos Peguero, a 6-foot-5, 245-pound outfielder out of the Dominican Republic, launched a moon shot out near the parking lot beyond the right-field fence off Manny Delcarmen.

Big first baseman Justin Smoak took a few hacks against Josh Lueke and Denny Bautista, and pronounced it a good first step, though noting there is one large advantage over a real game.

"It's always good to kind of see where you're at the first day of live BP," said Smoak. "I swung a few times, broke a bat, that's part of it. It was good all around. Lueke is pretty good. He's got a really good split-finger. But live BP, you know what's coming. It doesn't always work that way."

Wedge takes hands-on approach

PEORIA, Ariz. -- New manager Eric Wedge took an active role throughout the first full day of full-squad work on the field on Monday. The former Indians skipper spoke to the team frequently before and after different drills, saying it's important to get everyone on the same page in the new program.

For example, Wedge spent time explaining how he and his staff want pitchers to field bunts with runners on base, and what the options are in different scenarios.

"Right now we're initiating everything," he said. "The way we go about it and what we want is a little bit different than probably what they've had here in the past. Everybody has their own way of how they want things. It's nothing in regard to what I saw last year. It's more about what we want and the best way we feel to run it.

"With 30 teams, you're all in the same ballpark in regard to what you're doing for the most part, but there are variations of each play, and that's one thing we want to accomplish."

As for live batting practice, Wedge got around to several different fields where pitchers and hitters were working in order to see as much as he could.

"It's a step forward," he said. "It's a different feel for everybody, but I was pleased with what I saw today."

Half the Mariners pitchers threw Monday. The second half will be on the mound Tuesday, including Felix Hernandez.

Sixteen Mariners agree to contracts

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Mariners announced Monday that 16 players agreed to contracts for the upcoming season. All the players were already under team control, having less than two years of Major League service time.

The group includes 10 pitchers -- Doug Fister, Jose Flores, Cesar Jimenez, Josh Lueke, Yorvis Medina, Edward Paredes, Michael Pineda, Mauricio Robles, Chaz Roe and Tom Wilhelmsen -- as well as infielders Alex Liddi, Matt Mangini, Justin Smoak and Matt Tuiasosopo, and outfielders Johermyn Chavez and Carlos Peguero.

The club now has signed 31 of the 40 players on its 40-man Major League roster. Still unsigned are pitchers Dan Cortes, Luke French, Shawn Kelley, Garrett Olson and David Pauley, catcher Adam Moore, infielder Mike Carp and outfielders Greg Halman and Michael Saunders.

All players must agree to contracts by March 2, or the club will automatically renew their deals.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.