PEORIA, Ariz. -- Every spring, one of the highlights of Mariners camp is the shooting of the creative promotional television commercials that will run throughout the season. Which is how shortstop Brendan Ryan found himself staring down a rather large buffalo Tuesday afternoon on the infield at Peoria Stadium.
The premise of the commercial remains secret, pending the release of all the ads later this spring, but anything with Ryan and a buffalo figures to be entertaining.
"I wasn't even intimidated, to be honest," Ryan said with a laugh. "He had friendly eyes, you know? So we had a connection. There was an understanding. He didn't cross me and I didn't grab onto his horns or anything. No quick moves."
At one point, Ryan was asked to field ground balls near the buffalo, named Harvey.
"The guy threw me a backhand and I had to get around Harvey," Ryan said. "I was kind of, 'Uh, why don't you move in a little bit and roll it underhand, because you're going to get me in trouble.'"
The piece will also feature closer Tom Wilhelmsen and catcher Jesus Montero. How funny will the final product be?
"Well, I guess we'll let the fans and everyone else be the judge of that," Ryan said. "I will say it didn't make the most sense, but maybe that's the joke of it, I don't know. It was pretty obscure, which is about right for the guys they chose.
"I'm waiting for everybody to see it first and then see what kind of crazy feedback we'll get. It's everything you'd think it would and wouldn't be. It's as random as you'd think."
Ryan said he spent nearly two hours doing the shoot with his new big friend.
"He was behaving well," Ryan said. "Then they finally said, 'It's a wrap for Harvey.' And I'm thinking, 'Yeah, I'm on a set!' Then he walked off and [went to the bathroom] at shortstop. There's still some fertilizer out there on that one. I'm not diving any time soon."
Felix throws first 'pen session of spring
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners ace Felix Hernandez threw off the mound for the first time this spring with a 10-minute bullpen session Wednesday, tossing 33 pitches in the covered pitching cages at the Peoria Sports Complex due to rainy weather.
Hernandez, 26, has been held back during the first week of camp after reporting late while signing his new seven-year, $175 million contract. The Mariners also want to bring him along slowly, knowing he's got a long season ahead.
"He looked good," said manager Eric Wedge. "He was throwing pretty much fastball and changeup today, but I thought he looked free and easy and really good for his first time out. It was nice to see him get off the mound. It was a good first day for him."
Hernandez said he didn't throw any breaking pitches at the direction of pitching coach Carl Willis, but would use his full arsenal the next time out.
"I was waiting for a long time," Hernandez said. "Now that I'm out there, I can get going with my routine and get ready for games."
Wedge reiterated that there are no health concerns with Hernandez, whose contract signing was delayed briefly after MRI tests showed enough typical wear and tear on his throwing elbow that eventually a clause was written into his deal that will give the Mariners the option for an eighth year at $1 million if he misses 130 consecutive games over any two-year period.
"He's fine," Wedge said. "A lot of that stuff got out early, and whenever you're going through something like that it's a long process. And everybody did a good job with it. But we don't have any worries about Felix right now. He's just somebody we want to slow-play a little bit because we're starting games early and there's no reason for him to get out there early like that."
Mariners work around rainy weather
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Rainy weather arrived Wednesday in the Phoenix area, sending the Mariners under cover to get their work in just two days before their Cactus League opener.
Fifteen pitchers threw bullpen sessions in the covered hitting cages at the club's Peoria Sports Complex, with hitters standing at the plate without swinging.
The normal fielding drills and a planned baserunning session was canceled, but manager Eric Wedge said the key thing was getting work in for the pitchers with such little preparation time this season before games begin due to the impending World Baseball Classic.
"All things considered, we got everything done," Wedge said. "We weren't able to do [the baserunning drills], but we'll double up on that tomorrow. But most importantly we needed to get the pitchers throwing off the mound and have the position players track [pitches]. So we got everything we needed for the most part."
Hector Noesi, who will start Friday's charity game against the Padres, was one of the pitchers throwing. Blake Beavan, who'll start Saturday, also got his work in. Also in the Wednesday group were veterans Jeremy Bonderman and Jon Garland, who hadn't thrown live batting practice with the other pitchers earlier in the week.
The other half of the pitching staff will throw Thursday, as scheduled, with Joe Saunders and Hisashi Iwakuma getting their first live batting practice sessions of the spring, and the rest of the staff throwing live for a second time.
Wedge said it was important to get Bonderman and Garland throwing with hitters in the box for the first time, even if nobody was swinging.
"We wanted to make sure they had something to work off of, both right-handers and left-handers," he said. "And they both threw the ball well today. They both have been throwing the ball well here early on. Because we do need to take a good look at them and they are here competing for jobs, it was important to get them out there today."
• The three starters for the Mariners in this weekend's games against the Padres will be Hector Noesi on Friday, Blake Beavan on Saturday and Erasmo Ramirez on Sunday. Manager Eric Wedge said pitchers would throw just one inning each in the initial games, so there'll be lots of relievers getting one frame each as well.
• The three games this weekend will all be broadcast live on 710 ESPN Seattle at 12:05 p.m. PT. The next radio broadcasts will be the following weekend (March 1-3), but those three games will be aired on a delay at 7 p.m. The first televised game will be Monday, March 4, against the Rockies at 12:05 p.m.