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05/01/10 3:34 PM ET

Mariners closing in on healthy rotation

SEATTLE -- The Mariners got two steps closer to filling out their starting rotation on Friday, as Cliff Lee made his debut and Erik Bedard threw 55 pain-free pitches in the bullpen, according to manager Don Wakamatsu.

Bedard played four months in 2009 before suffering a torn labrum in his left shoulder that required season-ending surgery, and Wakamatsu pegged the end of May as the best-case scenario for his return.

"He looks better than before," Wakamatsu said. "It looks like his arm is a little freer, and he's not putting as much stress on it. We're pretty excited about that, and we think he is, too. It's one thing to get him back. The second part is to try to keep him from the injuries recurring."

In 15 starts last season, Bedard went 5-3 with a 2.82 ERA. He allowed two or fewer runs in 13 of those outings.

Wakamatsu said that Bedard will likely throw another bullpen session before moving to simulated games, and he added that Bedard would probably need more than one rehab start in the Minors before returning to the rotation.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.