M's reliever Putz throws off mound for second time in week

4/17/2008 - MLB J.J. Putz Seattle Mariners + more

OAKLAND, Calif. -- J.J. Putz threw off a mound Wednesday for the second time in a week, but the Seattle Mariners still aren't certain when they'll activate their All-Star closer from the disabled list.

Putz, sidelined with a ribcage injury since April 1, threw 41 pitches during a 10-minute bullpen session before Seattle's game at Oakland and reported no problems.

The Mariners also recalled right-handed reliever Brandon Morrow from Double-A West Tennessee to fill the roster spot left open when starter Erik Bedard was placed on the 15-day DL on Tuesday. Morrow was expected to be Seattle's top setup man for Putz before sustaining a biceps injury in spring training.

Morrow's return was expected, but the news on Putz was surprising and encouraging for the Mariners, who have made a flurry of moves in the last three days to bolster their bullpen. Left-handed reliever
Arthur Rhodes and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey were brought up on Monday while struggling reliever Eric O'Flaherty was optioned to Double-A.

"We're getting healthier by the day," Seattle manager John McLaren said. "It's starting to come together. Every day we're that much closer to getting everybody back."

Putz, eligible to come off the DL on April 17, threw on flat ground most of last week before moving to the mound. He threw a six-minute session during the Mariners' weekend series against the Los Angeles Angels, then extended his pitch count for Wednesday's workout.

"Everything felt good," said Putz, who is 0-1 with one save and a 9.00 ERA this season. "I was a lot more sharp today than the first time."

Putz hopes to pitch in a simulated game Saturday, but McLaren isn't certain what the next step will be. Seattle has taken a slow approach with the closer, who had a career-high 40 saves in 2007.

"We'll see how he feels tomorrow," McLaren said. "He's getting closer."

Morrow gave up only three hits and one unearned run in 7 1/3 innings while pitching for West Tennessee.

"We worked on a lot of stuff down there and it's all been real good," Morrow said. "I'm feeling a lot better about my stuff."