Mariners lefty Lee throws first bullpen session


by Associated Press

Posted on February 24, 2010 at 1:33 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 25 at 1:51 AM

PEORIA, Ariz. - Cliff Lee took a step in the right direction Wednesday.

The Seattle Mariners lefty completed his first bullpen session of spring training without any problems with his left foot, which needed surgery almost three weeks ago to remove a bone spur.

"It wasn't as sharp as I would like, but it's the first time I've been off the mound in a little while, so I guess that's to be expected," Lee said after 10 minutes of pitching and a conditioning run. "I feel good. The foot's fine. The body feels good, so now I need to get in shape and get off the mound more and catch up with everyone else."

Lee reported to Mariners camp a week ago with a bandage wrapped around his foot, even though he said he was ready to pitch. The Mariners took precautions, limiting Lee, a former AL Cy Young Award winner whom they traded for with Philadelphia in the offseason, to agility drills and fielding practice.

The 31-year-old Lee said he threw all of his pitches and wasn't thinking about his foot. He was focused on locating fastballs, having only thrown off a mound once in the offseason before he needed surgery.

"I was pretty certain when I first got here, I could jump right in with everyone, but it was kind of a better safe than sorry approach at that point," Lee said.

He'll toss another session in a couple of days with the hope that he'll be ready for the rotation in spring training games. The other Seattle pitchers have been pitching from a mound since last week.

"Once I get going, I'll catch up. It's still way early," Lee said. "There's a lot of teams that haven't even really started going full tilt yet, so looking at it that way, I guess I'm not that far behind."

Meanwhile at Mariners camp Wednesday, infielder Jose Lopez returned to his normal position -- second base -- after taking ground balls at third in the team's first full-squad workout Tuesday. The Mariners said they were only taking a look at Lopez at third, with Chone Figgins working at second base. Both Lopez and Figgins, a free agent signed from the Los Angeles Angels, worked at second base Wednesday.

Lopez, a 2006 AL All-Star, said he last played third base for the Mariners in 2007, for a few games.

"It's no big deal. I'll try it," Lopez said. "We'll see how I feel at third base. It was only a question about what could happen this season. Right now in spring training, I had a good conversation with (manager Don Wakamatsu). He didn't tell me he'll put me at third, didn't say second. Only that we'd try it out, but that it's more important how I feel."