PEORIA, Ariz. -- Adrenaline usually is a good thing for a pitcher, but Mariners left-hander George Sherrill has had to throttle down a little this spring.

The achy elbow he developed midway through last season flared up following his second bullpen session of Spring Training, and he was told to take it easier.

"I'm not throwing less frequently than usual," he said Saturday, "but I throw my bullpens with less intensity. I probably overdid it at first and they got mad at me. I'm toning things down."

He says it seems to be working.

"I feel good and am right on pace."

The 29-year-old Sherrill, who will pitch one inning Monday against the Cubs in his Cactus League debut, was a workhorse last season, appearing in 72 games, and figures to be a member of the Mariners' 25-man Opening Day roster. If the season begins with a 12-man pitching staff, there's a good chance that he, Arthur Rhodes and Jake Woods would be in the seven-man bullpen.

A duplication of his first full season in the big leagues would serve Sherrill and the Mariners well.

He was the only pitcher in the Major Leagues last season to pitch at least 40 innings and not surrender at least one home run and became just the second pitcher in club history to accomplish that feat, joining right-hander Calvin Jones (1991).

Sherrill was used often, and usually not for very long.

A left-handed specialist, Sherrill often was brought into the game to face one left-handed batter in the late innings, a role that fit his rubber arm well -- if he doesn't overdo it.

Sherrill traced his elbow soreness to the All-Star break. During a workout at Safeco Field prior to a team flight to Toronto to begin the second half of the season, he apparently threw a slider too hard and felt a twinge in his elbow.

"I didn't feel a 'pop' or anything," he said. "It was like someone had stepped on it or something. I ended up pitching all three games in Toronto and was told I had that Monday off in New York. But I had to do a rapid-fire warmup and pitched in games Tuesday and Wednesday."

Sherrill said the heavy throwing schedule contributed to his elbow woes and he never felt 100 percent the remainder of the season. But he quickly added that he never was in danger of structurally damaging the elbow.

Regardless, his 5.06 ERA in August and 12.46 ERA in September weren't indicative of his season. He would rather refer to the 2.35 ERA in April, 2.08 ERA in May and 1.00 ERA in July as the true value to the team.

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Salary jump: Right-hander Felix Hernandez will get an $80,000 pay raise this season, going from $340,000 last season to $420,000 in 2007. He wanted more, but had his '06 contract renewed by the club Friday for a 23.5 percent salary boost.

Players with fewer than three years of MLB experience have limited negotiation power, allowing clubs to renew contracts for any amount they desire -- but not more than a 20 percent cut.

Club policy is to not talk about contracts, so officials will not comment on whether there have been discussions regarding a multiyear deal for the 20-year-old.

Hernandez reiterated Saturday that he is OK with the contract he eventually signed and his focus is entirely on getting ready for the regular season.

Runs lacking: The Mariners have scored two runs in their first two Cactus League games and neither of them came Saturday when they dropped a 1-0 decision to the Padres before 7,804 at Peoria Stadium.

"I don't think you can read anything into that," manager Mike Hargrove said. "You run into many cycles down here, and early on, the pitchers are a little ahead of the hitters. There are ebbs and flows in Spring Training, but we hit the ball hard at times and they made some good plays."

Dating to last spring, the Mariners have lost six straight games to their Spring Training complex partners. However, Seattle was 5-1 against San Diego in Interleague games last season.

Mariners pitchers held the Padres to four hits Saturday, but one of them was a solo home run by Terrmel Sledge in the first inning off left-handed starter Jarrod Washburn.

"Jarrod threw strikes, got ahead of the hitters and got one ball up to Terrmel Sledge, who hit the ball out of the ballpark," Hargrove said. "It's the first one I've seen hit out of a ballpark in a long while, but he hit it well."

Among the pitching highlights was the performance of Minor League left-hander Justin Thomas, who tossed two perfect innings of relief, striking out three of the six batters he faced.

"He did a good job for us, he really did," Hargrove said. "We had Aaron Small go down during practice, so we were a little short. Justin's been in town for the winter program and he backed us up. He did well."

Thomas, 22, led the Mariners organization in wins last season with 14, going 5-5 at Class A Wisconsin and 9-4 at Class A Inland Empire.

Small was unavailable because of back spasms, but Hargrove said, "When we get him loosened up, he'll be OK."

On the upswing: The first two hours of single-game ticket sales in Seattle on Saturday showed a slight increase over last season. There were 61,000 tickets purchased from 10 a.m. to noon this year compared to 59,045 a year ago. Tickets can be purchased online at www.mariners.com. They are also available by phone at 206-622-HITS, at any Ticketmaster location or with no service charge at Safeco Field and the Mariners team stores.