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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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February 25, 2008 9:39 AM

Bedard to start Cactus League opener

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Some of the Seattle pitchers were sporting close-cropped hair before today's workouts, part of being on the losing side of a bet made during fielding drills. Ryan Rowland-Smith has the worst do, a mullet hanging down the back of his head. J.J. Putz was on the winning side, but shaved his head down anyway. Hey, it's getting hot down here. You can see Putz and Jarrod Washburn (above) examining Rowland-Smith's peculiar clip. Down below, Mark Lowe is decisively less hairy.

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Not a huge news day here so far. At least, not after yesterday's announcement of the rest of the starting rotation slottings.

Mariners manager John McLaren did unveil the team's pitching schedule for both the exhibition charity game on Thursday against San Diego, then the Cactus League opener on Friday against the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale.

We'll start with the charity game, since it's the one being played here in Peoria. That will see Washburn take the mound first, followed by Miguel Batista, R.A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow and Eric O'Flaherty. A pretty good complement of arms that could all be with the team on Opening Day. Erik Bedard will then start the "official" Cactus League opener (never understood how you could have exhibition games on an exhibition circuit, but I digress), followed by Cha Seung Baek, Rowland-Smith, Jake Woods and Sean Green.

So, remember folks. Bedard isn't pitching the home game. He starts on the road. Washburn starts here at Peoria Stadium. Got it?

Moving right along, McLaren wouldn't say how many innings each game's starter would work. It could be one inning, could be two. It's up to new pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre.

"Mel's more into pitches than he is innings,'' McLaren said.

That means, an easy set of pitches to get through an inning, they might send the guy back out for a second frame. Throw too many pitches in a tough inning, the stint may be capped at just that one.

Other news? Jose Vidro is apparently OK after Rowland-Smith drilled him with a pitch yesterday. Vidro is expected to participate in most of today's workouts. Speaking of those workouts, the M's are trying something different this year. Instead of having outfielders run the bases during their relay, cutoff and other situational drills, they are using a group of minor leaguers. McLaren says he feels more comfortable having them run the bases, as they did yesterday during those drills we showed you photos of, than some of his regulars just rounding into game shape.

"These kids have been working out,'' McLaren said of the minor leaguers, who have been down here a month. "They're in better shape than some of our guys and they're giving us a different look."

And this will prevent the regulars from getting hurt.

"When I used to run camp, I'd get scared when I'd see Griffey running the bases,'' McLaren said.

McLaren also feels the minor leaguers bring an energy to the mundane baserunning tasks, creating a more realistic drill.

"They're competing,'' he said. "They want to be noticed a bit.''

Hear what McLaren said on this and other topics right here.

Off to watch the drills. I'll leave you with some more haircut shots below, first of Eric O'Flaherty.

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Here's another shot of Rowland-Smith down below.

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