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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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April 2, 2008 5:41 PM

Putz update

Posted by Larry Stone

Just got back up to the press box and finished transcribing all my taped interviews. To answer the questions I know you have:


1) No one has been named as the replacement closer. It will be the good, old "closer by committee." I'd suspect that the bulk of the ninth-inning work will go to the three late-inning guys, Mark Lowe, Eric O'Flaherty and Sean Green. Today is the throw day for Miguel Batista, who spent a season as a closer in Toronto, and McLaren didn't rule him out of relief duty. One thing McLaren did say was that he would ride a hot hand, if one emerged.

"We’ll go that route for sure,'' he said. "We’ll see if someone gets hot, and we’ll run with it. We’ll try everything. Opportunity has been big for people over the years. Some people are going to have an opportunity."

2) There is no timetable on J.J.'s return. They have to let the injury quiet down, and then rehab begins. I'm not even going to hazard a guess, because I have no medical expertise, and the Mariners, including trainer Rick Griffin, were adamant about not predicing how long this well take.

That being said, they were very encouraged by the diagnosis, because there was fear yesterday it might be an oblique or soft tissue injury, which traditionally takes a lot longer to heal. Griffin said the doctor who read Putz's MRI termed his inflammation as "mild." And the other good news, Griffin said, was that it was on the de-celerating side (that's a word, right?) of his ribcage, rather than the accelerating side.

Griffin said former Seattle closere Kaz Sasaki had a similar injury. Yes, the infamous "tripping while carrying his luggage up the stairs" incident. Sasaki was out for five weeks, but Griffin said that wasn't really a good comparison because Sasaki broke three ribs.

"It took a lot longer than this is going to take,'' he said.

3) Putz was pretty glum, as you might imagine. He said he felt the pain on the third pitch to Michael Young. "It felt like an ice pick stabbing my side."

But he called the diagnosis "the best of the bad news,'' a fancy way of saying it could have been worse.

4) The bullpen guys were saying all the right things about pulling together to compensate for this loss. We shall see how they weather this storm. it will say a lot about their prospects for this season.

I have some other duties to fulfill, so I'll let you chew on this.

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