Benoit, Furbush respond well in sim game

Mariners relievers each throw one inning to ramp up rehab

Benoit, Furbush respond well in sim game

SEATTLE -- Rehabbing relievers Joaquin Benoit and Charlie Furbush each threw well for an inning in a simulated game situation against Mariners hitters Dae-Ho Lee and Luis Sardinas on Saturday afternoon at Safeco Field, moving a step closer to rejoining Seattle's bullpen.

Benoit is closest to returning as the 38-year-old right-hander says he's feeling better than he has since the start of Spring Training, as his shoulder finally feels comfortable after spending the past three weeks on the disabled list.

"It feels way better. Even in Spring Training, I didn't feel even close to what I'm throwing right now," Benoit said. "I guess the decision is going to be for the front office now. I felt good in there. I don't think there's anything else I need to be doing. I didn't feel I was off from the plate."

Benoit could rejoin the Mariners on their road trip next week beginning in Baltimore on Tuesday, but manager Scott Servais says that decision hasn't been made.

"We'll see how he feels coming in tomorrow," Servais said. "It might be a situation where we think about activating him on the road trip or give him one outing in Triple-A. Not quite sure on that yet."

Servais is eager to regain the services of the veteran setup man to bolster a bullpen that has pieced things together in Benoit's absence.

"He was huge in the bullpen construction over the offseason," Servais said. "It sets everybody else up really well. He's a big part of what we envisioned it being. He can make pitches. He's one of the toughest relievers in the league to hit. He doesn't walk people. He's been through the wars. He's pitched in World Series and deep in postseasons. He's kind of done it all, so he's a very valuable guy for us to have."

Furbush's return isn't nearly as imminent, as he's recovering from a partial tear in his rotator cuff sustained in July and a Spring Training setback after attempting to gear back up in February. But the 29-year-old southpaw said he's finally pain-free and eager to begin his Minor League rehab stint.

The tentative plan for Furbush is to throw another simulated inning in Tacoma on Thursday, then head to Arizona to face live hitters in extended spring training for about a week before joining the Triple-A Tacoma club for however many rehab games it takes to get ready.

"It felt great," Furbush said after his 17-pitch outing against Lee and Sardinas. "I was pretty close to full go. It ups the intensity, just having the hitter in there, and being on the mound at Safeco is pretty nice again.

"I broke a bat, that was nice, and got a couple groundouts. Now it's just getting the workload up and fine-tuning the delivery and finding the release point so I can consistently throw high-quality strikes. I'd liketo think I'm ready to go and 'Put me in, coach.'"

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.