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12/08/08 11:55 PM EST

Bedard cleared for throwing program

Mariners lefty has chance to be 100 percent by Spring Training

LAS VEGAS -- Mariners left-hander Erik Bedard received clearance on Monday to begin a rehab program on his left shoulder that could make him good to go when Spring Training begins in mid-February.

Bedard was examined in Las Vegas, site of this week's Winter Meetings, by Dr. Lewis Yocum, the physician who removed a cyst and non-healthy tissue from the pitcher's shoulder in a Sept. 26 operation.

"It went great," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "I have been hearing from everyone who has talked to him face-to-face that he's feeling good about himself."

Bedard, who returned to his offseason home in Canada early Monday morning, spent some time with manager Don Wakamatsu on Sunday night and came across as someone eager to put this past season behind him.

Acquired from the Orioles in February in a five-for-one trade, Bedard spent more time on the disabled list than he did on the mound. He made 15 starts, posted a 6-4 record, 3.87 ERA and struck out 72 batters in 81 innings.

But a series of ailments, starting with inflammation in his left hip prior to his second start, kept him on the 15-day disabled list most of the season. He made his final start on July 4 against the Tigers, complaining of shoulder soreness.

The exact nature of his ailment was a mystery, as an MRI taken on his shoulder did not reveal any structural damage.

Further examinations disclosed the cyst.

"He told me, 'I was not 100 percent healthy last year,' and that affects a lot of things: your approach, your psyche, your confidence and your ability to perform," Zduriencik said. "Now, he's feeling really good about himself and thinks he's on the right track.

"The fact the trainers and doctor think he's on the right track leads us to believe he is going to come in [Spring Training] and hopefully be the guy [the Mariners] thought he was going to be when they traded for him."

Former Mariners GM Bill Bavasi sent prize prospect Adam Jones, left-handed reliever George Sherrill, and three Minor League pitchers to the Orioles.

Bedard, who was paid $7 million last season, is eligible for salary arbitration again this year, which has led some to believe the Mariners would either trade the lefty, or not tender him a contract on Dec. 12.

Neither is likely to happen.

"Based on the season he had a year ago, his value might be a little less, " Zduriencik said. "But for this ballclub to be a good ballclub, we need Erik Bedard to be the Erik Bedard that he was traded for.

"My expectations, at this moment in time, are for Erik Bedard to be on the staff pitching to Erik Bedard's ability and there are several reasons for that: one, bouncing back, two, this is technically his walk year and three, a lot of these guys were embarrassed by the season the Mariners had a year ago. There is a lot to be proven and hopefully this is a motivating factor for them."

Barring a medical setback, Bedard should be ready to throw without limitations when camp opens in Peoria, Ariz.

"It sounds like it," Zduriencik said. "Every indication points that way. But as you go forward with this, sometimes there are things that happen that cause a little setback. But in terms of the steps he needs to take to be ready, he's in good shape right now."

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.