Mariners closer Rodney in good spirits, health

Mariners closer Rodney in good spirits, health

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Fernando Rodney enjoys baseball. He shoots pretend arrows when he racks up a save. He dances in the practice field when the mood strikes in spring. And this spring, the veteran closer is ready to cut loose.

"You have to be happy," Rodney said Tuesday after throwing his first bullpen session of the spring. "I feel happy with all the moves they've made, signing [Nelson] Cruz and bringing a couple more guys to help win the division. That's great to me. That's why I'm dancing."

Rodney was pleased to be throwing this soon as well. A year ago, he didn't get on the mound until more than a week into camp. At the time, he and the Mariners said he was just taking things slow as a veteran, much like Felix Hernandez has his own program and won't get on a mound for a few more days.

But Rodney acknowledges now that he started last spring with tightness in his throwing shoulder and he needed to back things off, something the 37-year-old isn't worried about this spring.

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"This year I just took the first two days to get loose and said I was ready for Tuesday," he said. "It was a good [bullpen session] for me. A lot of strikes. This year everything is normal. I'm trying to not do too much, just hit my location and get ready for the season."

Last year's delayed start certainly didn't develop into a problem, as Rodney wound up earning his second American League All-Star bid and leading the Majors with a club-record 48 saves in 51 opportunities with a 2.85 ERA.

But manager Lloyd McClendon is pleased to see Rodney ready to go from the start in his second year with the club.

"Having him in camp early helps quite a bit, to get him in shape," McClendon said. "He's familiar with his teammates now. It's a lot easier coming in when you have a year under your belt, for all of us. I'm glad he's having fun. I just want him to stay healthy."

• Left-handed reliever Edgar Olmos was claimed off waivers Tuesday by the Rangers. The 24-year-old was designated for assignment by the Mariners 10 days earlier to make room on the 40-man roster for Rickie Weeks.

• Utility man Willie Bloomquist ran the bases for the first time Monday and Tuesday as he works back from microfracture knee surgery. McClendon called that an important first test for the veteran and said Bloomquist is "doing fabulous" and is well ahead of schedule as the club expects him to be full go by the start of the season.

James Paxton likely will begin throwing at the start of next week, according to McClendon, after being held back by a left forearm that was injured when he fell doing drills prior to the start of camp.

• Minor League minicamp opened Monday and will run through March 8 for 41 of the team's top youngsters, including 2014 first-round Draft pick Alex Jackson. Also in minicamp are outfielders Gabby Guerrero and Austin Wilson and right-hander Edwin Diaz, all ranked among Seattle's top five prospects by MLB.com. Seattle's full Minor League camp opens March 9 when pitchers and catchers report, with the first full-squad workout March 16.

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.