PEORIA, Ariz. -- Willie Bloomquist says he's ready to go right now. Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon says not so fast. But whatever pace is eventually agreed upon, the clear message Saturday was that the Mariners expect the veteran utility man's surgically repaired right knee to be fine when the season opens in April.
While the full squad isn't required in camp until Tuesday, Bloomquist is among the many position players already working out at the Peoria Complex. And the 37-year-old is running and hitting in preparation for his 14th Major League season after spending the offseason rehabbing from microfracture surgery last August.
"It hasn't been easy," Bloomquist said. "It's been a heck of an offseason just getting this thing back to par. The trainers and everybody have done a great job getting me back. I feel confident I could play right now. I'm ready. They will ease me into things slowly, but I'm ready to go. I'm running 100 percent. I haven't run the bases yet, but as far as doing what I'm capable of doing, let's go."
McClendon said Bloomquist will need to be brought along slowly this spring, however good his intentions.
"We all know Willie. He dives right back in," said the skipper. "I have to make sure he's healthy for the entire season. We're going to pace him and back him off a little bit. I'm sure he's not going to like it, but that's just the way it is."
Bloomquist hit .278 in 47 games last year, including .394 with 14 RBIs with runners in scoring position. He started 32 games at six different positions, filling exactly the utility role the Mariners had in mind when they signed him to a two-year deal.
Now Bloomquist just wants to get back on the field any way he can, but he does understand the cautious approach.
"I'm expecting to be there and I know I can, but I know they are going to kind of ease me into things," he said. "Which is probably smart. And I haven't been known to be real smart. … I just know I'm ready to go."