PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners closer David Aardsma, recovering from hip labrum surgery in early January, took another small step toward returning on Wednesday when he played catch for the first time.
Aardsma hadn't thrown a ball since having his hip repaired, so it was welcome news when trainer Rick Griffin informed him shortly before Wednesday morning's workout that it was time to start some soft toss.
"He felt good, so it was a good start," Griffin said.
Meanwhile, Chris Ray, one of the pitchers in the mix to fill in at closer until Aardsma's return, threw 29 pitches in a simulated inning against Minor League hitters on the club's main practice field later in the morning as he tested a sore calf.
Ray has pitched two innings of Cactus League action, giving up one run and two hits, but threw in a controlled situation Wednesday with general manager Jack Zduriencik, manager Eric Wedge and two members of the training staff present.
Wedge said Ray will either throw another simulated game or be worked back into Cactus League action, depending on how his calf reacts.
Ray, who had Tommy John surgery in 2007 after saving 49 games for the Orioles in 2006-07, said he was "just getting work" and that everything is fine.
"My arm has been great. I've been throwing every day," he said.
Ray faced five hitters in his simulated inning, striking out four and giving up what likely would have been a single to right. He froze the last batter he faced twice with a curveball that is just becoming more of his repertoire.
"My slider is my second pitch," he said. "I started throwing a curveball about two months into last year for the first time and had a lot of success with it. It's one of those things where guys either take it all the way or mis-hit it because they've never seen me throw it before."
Jack reinforces Wilson's confidence
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jack Wilson wondered when he checked into Mariners camp at a lean-and-mean 177 pounds this spring if he'd have less power at the plate.
Not that the veteran infielder was a big bopper at his previous 195 pounds. Still, it crossed his mind that the ball might not carry as well. But Wilson answered that question Wednesday when he drove a home run to left field off All-Star reliever Hong-Chih Kuo in the fourth inning in a 9-4 win over the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch.
Wilson has 61 home runs in his 10-year Major League career, but just six over the past three seasons.
The 33-year-old said most of his fears were allayed when he began hitting the ball well in batting practice at camp, but Wednesday's Cactus League blast certainly didn't hurt his confidence.
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Of more concern to Wilson now, ironically, are his defensive adjustments. One of the game's premier shortstops over the past decade, he started his second game of the spring at second base on Wednesday and said he felt at least a little more comfortable.
Manager Eric Wedge wants to see new acquisition Brendan Ryan at short, so he's working both players some at second to find the best combination. Wilson has been told he'll start one more game at second, then move back to shortstop for a few games as the experiment continues.
"It's all right," he said. "It's new, it's different. When it says a number next to your name [on the lineup card], you go out there and do the best you can."
Wilson has never played any position other than shortstop in his decade in the Majors. He noted that 20-year-old catcher Steven Baron "was about 3 [years old] the last time I played second base."
Wilson said it makes sense for Wedge to look at all his options as he takes over a new club. The challenge for him is to adjust to a position that has a completely different pace.
"I need to make sure I take my time and let the first baseman get over to the bag," he said. "I'm used to fielding the ball, getting momentum and throwing to first. At second, you catch it, look around, see it's a nice day, then OK, here you go. It's a little different. I'm kind of a fiery, fidgety guy, so it's going to take me a while to slow it down and just make a nice throw over to first."
Fine outing for Fister
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Outside of a home run by Rod Barajas in the third, Mariners starter Doug Fister was nearly flawless in his third start of the spring Wednesday in a 9-4 victory over the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch.
Fister gave up just two hits, no walks and four strikeouts over four innings of work against a lineup featuring most of the Dodgers regulars.
The 28-year-old threw 52 pitches and showed better command than five days earlier when he gave up five hits and two runs in a three-inning stint against the Reds. He was the first Mariners pitcher to go four innings this spring.
"I'm working on some things, keeping the ball down and locating the fastball," said Fister. "It felt good, but I'm still continuing to work on it. I was keeping the ball down, wasn't focusing on side-to-side but more down and just getting ground balls."
Barajas hit a changeup over the left-field wall in the third, but the only other hit was a single by Gabe Kapler.
"He threw the ball very well today," manager Eric Wedge said. "He controlled the ballgame, did a good job moving his fastball around. He had a good tempo going, his secondary stuff was good. I was really happy with the way he threw the ball today."