Notes: Reed ready for Opening Day

Notes: Reed ready for Opening Day

TACOMA, Wash. -- Jeremy Reed started in center field Saturday and batted eighth in the Mariners' lineup, going 0-for-2 in three plate appearances in the team's "Mariners Day" exhibition against Triple-A Tacoma in cozy Cheney Stadium.

Normally, this wouldn't be out of the ordinary, but considering the fact that Reed and the team thought he had a broken right wrist as recently as a week ago, his quick return to action was a boon to the franchise.

A potential of six weeks on the sidelines turned into six days, because Reed, as it turns out, only had a sprained wrist. He won't have to go on the disabled list and will most likely start Opening Day against the Angels on Monday in Safeco Field.

"I'm ready to go," Reed said. "I'm looking forward to it."

Reed left the team's Spring Training complex last Friday to return to Seattle for tests on his hand after he ran into a wall in a game in Peoria Stadium the previous night.

After Reed found out that the fracture originally spotted by an X-ray was an old fracture that had healed, one he couldn't identify but confirmed was "definitely not [from] a skateboarding accident," he went to work on strengthening the wrist to avoid the DL.

In addition to regular conditioning exercises and rest, Mariners head trainer Rick Griffin had Reed taking 40 swings in a swimming pool to take advantage of the resistance provided by the water.

Reed progressed every day and hit off a tee and in the cage Friday night in Portland. He hit in the cage again before Saturday's game and started with no protection on his wrist other than tape.

"We thought coming into the day he'd get to take batting practice," manager Mike Hargrove said. "That's all."

But Reed said he feels good enough to not be concerned about the health of the wrist and that he had enough at-bats in Spring Training (38) to be relatively comfortable in the batter's box. He said he just needs to get his timing back.

Reed's first at-bat came in the second inning of Saturday's game in Tacoma, where he batted with the bases loaded and drew a four-pitch walk from Clint Nageotte to force in the Mariners' first run of the game.

He flied out to center field in the fifth inning when Adam Jones dove to catch his sinking blooper, and he hit into a double play in the seventh to go hitless in two official at-bats with an RBI for the game.

"Just getting back and trying to get comfortable," Reed said. "That's the biggest thing."

And if a ball is hit to the wall like the one Johnny Estrada bashed in Arizona, the one that led to Reed's injury when he crashed into the wall? Would Reed go after that ball the same way?

"Today?" Reed wondered, looking out at the slightly rain-slicked Cheney Stadium field.

"Monday, yeah, I'll catch it."

spring training 2006
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Felix fires: It was a banner day for Griffin, who spoke with reporters about Reed's good fortune before walking over to watch prized pitcher Felix Hernandez throw his first bullpen session since being shut down last week because of shin splints in his right leg.

Hernandez, the team's 19-year-old No. 5 starter, is slated to begin his season April 7 against the Oakland A's on the last day of his teens. Hernandez turns 20 on April 8.

On Saturday, he cruised through a 40-pitch bullpen session, on which he'll build in another bullpen Tuesday. Hernandez threw all his pitches and satisfied all onlookers.

"We had really, really good news today, as far as the health is concerned with the club," Griffin said.

Griffin said Hernandez won't run for a few weeks but has done enough cardiovascular work, shoulder exercises and agility work to be ready for the upcoming season.

"He'll be fine," Griffin said. "He's 19 years old. Think about when you were 19. You could do anything you want any time you wanted to."

Meche has final tuneup: Gil Meche started the Tacoma game and looked good, pitching 5 1/3 innings and giving up one run on six hits. He struck out three and walked two.

Afterward, he said he's where he wants to be heading into the season as the Mariners' No. 4 starter, especially considering the old curveball grip that he's gone back to is feeling more comfortable and his other pitches are coming around.

"I'm ready," Meche said. "Knowing that I have my two-seamer, my changeup is the best it's ever been, I threw some pretty good curveballs."

Doug Miller is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.