Aardsma's back stiffness not serious

Aardsma hurts back reading book

ST. PETERSBURG -- On the long list of bizarre off-the-field injuries that happen haphazardly to athletes during the course of a long season, David Aardsma's back stiffness may top them all.

It's not often a player gets hurt from reading a book.

But that's what happened to Seattle's right-handed closer, after a five-hour flight to Florida, during which he was scrunched up reading a book. The position tightened his lower back and kept him from playing in Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Rays.

Aardsma, who laughed about the injury in the clubhouse after the game, said he felt the tightness during pregame stretches. He thought back to the flight and the way he was positioned.

"It might've been just how I was sitting with my book," Aardsma said. "I don't know. I got here, I was fine. Then I started noticing it during stretches and stuff and it just sort of got me."

Thankfully for the Mariners, the stiffness was short-lived and Aardsma was available and ready to pitch on Wednesday. He said he could've played if necessary Tuesday. Even in a close game, though, manager Don Wakamatsu didn't want to force anything and risk more damage.

Other damage from the travel had already been done. First baseman Mike Sweeney's back and Ken Griffey Jr.'s knees were stiff, although Griffey did play in the game, finishing 0-for-2.

Sweeney was available on Wednesday, Wakamatsu said.

But the effects of the long-distance trek were not overlooked, making Tuesday's gritty win over Tampa Bay all the more fulfilling.

"I think the tough thing is the five-hour flight, close to 5,000-mile trip," Wakamatsu said after Tuesday's 4-3 win. "I think Aardsma was the result of that flight. Some other guys stiffened up a little bit."

Mark Lowe, who filled in as Seattle's closer Tuesday night, said he felt fine after the long trip, but there have been times when the travel can wear on his body. The Mariners will be hopping back on another long flight right after finishing up in Tampa Bay on Wednesday, too. On Thursday night, the team begins a four-game series in Toronto.

Another flight, another book to read. Hopefully fewer stiff muscles.

"I wouldn't say I'm completely normal," Mariners left-hander Luke French said. "It definitely makes you a little stiff."

Zach Schonbrun is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.