Closer David Aardsma desperately wants to get back into the Seattle bullpen, but the rehabbing right-hander has two guidelines he's determined to follow.
The first is that he isn't going to rush things in his comeback after having left hip surgery in January. That's why he's OK with the Mariners shutting him down for a couple of days now that some stiffness in his right forearm has cropped up.
"We're being real cautious with it, and it's getting better every day," Aardsma said Wednesday before the Mariners' 5-2 loss to the Rangers. "Just take a little time and don't let it become something bigger."
The second is that he doesn't want to be given the closer's job upon his return. He says he wants to earn his way into the role, much as he did in 2009.
"It would not be smart," Aardsma said of immediately being installed as the closer. Brandon League, Aardsma's chief setup man a year ago, is 8-for-8 in save opportunities.
"I have to pitch against big-league hitters and show that I can get guys out. I have to show that I can take a role in the bullpen. Brandon is doing a heck of a job, Jamey (Wright), everybody's doing a great job. I've got to do that. I've got to face hitters and prove to (management) that I've got my stuff, and let them make a decision."
The plan is for Aardsma to play catch Thursday, then maybe get back on a mound sometime this weekend. His hip, he says, is sound, and the stiffness he's feeling is the kind of thing most pitchers go through in spring training, which is basically what this is for him.
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