PEORIA, Ariz. -- Adrenaline usually is a good thing for a pitcher, but Mariners left-hander George Sherrill has had to throttle down a little this spring. The achy elbow he developed midway through last season flared up following his second bullpen session of Spring Training, and he was told to take it easier. "I'm not throwing less frequently than usual," he said Saturday, "but I throw my bullpens with less intensity. I probably overdid it at first and they got mad at me. I'm toning things down."
He says it seems to be working. "I feel good and am right on pace." The 29-year-old Sherrill, who will pitch one inning Monday against the Cubs in his Cactus League debut, was a workhorse last season, appearing in 72 games, and figures to be a member of the Mariners' 25-man Opening Day roster. If the season begins with a 12-man pitching staff, there's a good chance that he, Arthur Rhodes and Jake Woods would be in the seven-man bullpen. A duplication of his first full season in the big leagues would serve Sherrill and the Mariners well. He was the only pitcher in the Major Leagues last season to pitch at least 40 innings and not surrender at least one home run and became just the second pitcher in club history to accomplish that feat, joining right-hander Calvin Jones (1991). Sherrill was used often, and usually not for very long. A left-handed specialist, Sherrill often was brought into the game to face one left-handed batter in the late innings, a role that fit his rubber arm well -- if he doesn't overdo it. Sherrill traced his elbow soreness to the All-Star break. During a workout at Safeco Field prior to a team flight to Toronto to begin the second half of the season, he apparently threw a slider too hard and felt a twinge in his elbow. "I didn't feel a 'pop' or anything," he said. "It was like someone had stepped on it or something. I ended up pitching all three games in Toronto and was told I had that Monday off in New York. But I had to do a rapid-fire warmup and pitched in games Tuesday and Wednesday." Sherrill said the heavy throwing schedule contributed to his elbow woes and he never felt 100 percent the remainder of the season. But he quickly added that he never was in danger of structurally damaging the elbow. Regardless, his 5.06 ERA in August and 12.46 ERA in September weren't indicative of his season. He would rather refer to the 2.35 ERA in April, 2.08 ERA in May and 1.00 ERA in July as the true value to the team. www.mariners.com. They are also available by phone at 206-622-HITS, at any Ticketmaster location or with no service charge at Safeco Field and the Mariners team stores.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.