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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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March 31, 2008 9:16 PM

M's take opener

Posted by Geoff Baker

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It took a while, but the bats finally came through for the Mariners -- the first-place Mariners, as the Angels lost to the Twins -- in a 5-2 win over the Texas Rangers in front of a sellout crowd of 46,334 at Safeco Field. Seattle trailed 1-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth, but scored a pair of unearned runs off Kevin Millwood that frame and then piled on three more off Kazuo Fukumori in the seventh. The photo above shows Yuniesky Betancourt crossing the plate after a two-run double by Jose Lopez capped off the seventh-inning rally.

Erik Bedard wasn't very forthcoming with his post-game interview answers. I let Jerry Brewer tackle Bedard for his column and focused more on the guys who played a direct role in the victory.

But Bedard was right up there with some of the things that stick in my head from this game. Yes, Bedard threw a whole lot of pitches, but managed to avoid the big damage on the scoreboard. That fifth inning, when Texas had a runner on second with only one out, proved huge as Bedard notched consecutive groundouts to keep it a one-run game.

I talked to Kenji Johjima about it afterwards and he praised Bedard for not giving in and abandoning his game plan when plate umpire Jim Joyce refused to give him the inside corner on his fastball.

"I think he had a few pitches inside that were fastballs where he should have had strikes called," Johjima said through an interpreter. "But he kept pitching inside and not going more towards the plate. So, that's how (mentally) strong I think he is. He's a very stubborn guy.''

Some fine pitching by Sean Green after that carried the M's to five more outs. Green wound up credited with the victory. Eric O'Flaherty also got the key out needed in the seventh when Josh Hamilton popped out foul with a runner on.

Offensively, Lopez delivered the back-breaking double and also completed the hitting part of that hit-and-run with Ichiro in the sixth to get Seattle's two-run rally started. Lopez did not look great defensively today, but he came through with the bat. I liked the seven walks taken by Seattle hitters as well, two by Johjima, on a cold day when hits were tough to come by early.

J.J. Putz pitched a scoreless ninth, allowing only a two-out single by Michael Young, for the save.

Raul Ibanez admitted there was a sense of urgency in the sixth when he came up with two on, none out and his team down 1-0. The M's had already squandered a chance in the second inning against Kevin Millwood.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 31, 2008 6:33 PM

Texas Rangers at Mariners: game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

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6:33 p.m.: Texas got a run back in the eighth inning after Erik O'Flaherty hit the first batter, Hank Blalock, with a pitch. O'Flaherty then notched a strikeout and a gorundout, the runner moving to second, but David Murphy singled to center to bring the run home. Mark Lowe came on at that point, getting Gerald Laird to ground into a 6-4 fielder's choice. Seattle leads 5-2 with three outs to go after the M's hit in the eighth.

You can get a look at former Mariner Ben Broussard taking BP earlier today in the video I've posted below. You can also get a look at the crowds massing outside the ballpark, what it looks like to walk up the dugout tunnel and on to the field the way the players do, not to mention the crowds being let into the stadium. Hope you enjoy.

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March 31, 2008 12:34 PM

McLaren sets bar high

Posted by Geoff Baker

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A look at the Mariners going through their pre-game stretch and batting practice. By the way, some early news that could help the Mariners today: Texas leadoff man Ian Kinsler has the flu and is not in today's starting lineup. Ramon Vasquez takes his place. Kinsler could be available for pinch-hit duty. Everything is a little early today because of Opening Day festivities. That includes Mariners manager John McLaren and his pre-game media session.

"The bar has been set high, let's be honest about it,'' McLaren said, adding that he's as responsible for that as anyone. "It's been set high for all of us. The organization did their part, went out and got us some pitching. Some real good pitching. We had a good team in place to start with. We've got a year under our belt for our young players. Now we need to go out and do it.''

Hear what McLaren said in this audio clip.

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March 31, 2008 7:52 AM

Opening Day

Posted by Geoff Baker

Here we are. After a long winter and spring of guesswork, it's time to find out what the 2008 Seattle Mariners are really all about. You've heard my take on things. Had time to toss that all around. Here is what some other pundits think about this team's chances:

Peter Gammons of ESPN sees the Angels winning the AL West. But he also thinks Felix Hernandez will be top-three in the Cy Young Award chase and that Jeff Clement and Wladimir Balentien will be contributors in the division playoff race. Agree with his take on the two latter players, not the former.

In fact, 10 out of 19 ESPN pundits polled took the Angels in the division. The other nine picked the Mariners. Prettty split opinion. One guy picks Erik Bedard as Cy Young winner. None take "King'' Felix.

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March 30, 2008 2:25 PM

Workout day

Posted by Geoff Baker

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A look at broadcaster Dave Sims watching this afternoon's workout, still going on at Safeco Field. The final roster has been set with the placing of pitcher Anderson Garcia on the 15-day disabled list. Garcia hasn't pitched in eons, given the biceps tendinitis in his throwing arm, so that move is hardly a shock. Unlike the past few springs, the Mariners opted not to make a last-minute player importation from elsewhere. The M's have become famous for such last-minute additions. Thing is, though, they've rarely worked out. So, to make one this time for the sake of making one would have been foolish. I liked the idea of bringing in Reed Johnson, but so did the Chicago Cubs. Once Johnson was off the radar, there wasn't much out there better than what Seattle already has.

The bench moves yesterday caused quite a surprise amongst many observers. Count me in on that front. I wrote this week that there's no point trying to always be right about things and I was obviously wrong on some of the bench speculation. So, as I wrote last week, the thing to do next is to figure out why. In that spirit, I've spent the past 24 hours trying to figure out why the M's would go with only an 11-man pitching staff given their bullpen woes.

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March 29, 2008 2:51 PM

Spring training is over!

Posted by Larry Stone

The next game the Mariners play will count in the standings. They finished up their exhibition season today with a 4-2 loss to the Cubs here in Vegas, with Kerry Wood throwing 99 mph heat in the ninth for the save. Seattle's final record is 13-16-3, which foretells absolutely nothing.

McLaren confirmed after the game that the Mariners will open the season with a Wilkerson-Morse platoon in right. He says he wants to ride Morse's hot bat and is afraid he will cool off with too much inactivity. Morse finished the spring with a .492 average, a Mariners' spring record by one point over Edgar Martinez's .491 in 1996.

McLaren also said that the lineup they used Saturday will be their Opening Day lineup (with Kenji Johjima at catcher instead of Jamie Burke). So here's how they'll line up against Kevin Millwood on Monday:

CF Ichiro

2B Jose Lopez

LF Raul Ibanez

1B Richie Sexson

3B Adrian Beltre

RF Brad Wilkerson

DH Jose Vidro

C Kenji Johjima

SS Yuniesky Betancourt

P Erik Bedard

No big surprises, because it has been apparent for a week that Lopez and Vidro were flip-flopping. Beltre made it clear he likes to hit behind a right-handed hitter, which might be why McLaren decided against the L-R-L-R combo in the middle.

Not much else to talk about. I think the Mariners are in position to win the AL West. No guarantees, of course. I picked them to win it in the newpspaper,and I probably would have even if the Angels didn't have their pitching injuries. I know a lot of people disagree. We'll have the next six months to find out who's right. Can't wait.

I'm in Vegas, folks. Good night.


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March 29, 2008 11:53 AM

Mariners set roster, with some surprises

Posted by Larry Stone

It was a weird scene this morning at Cashman Field, with the Mariners' brass huddling in the bowels of the stadium, and a mixture of elated and devastated players as they learned their fate to start the season.

The most dejected was R.A. Dickey, who in a weird twist found himself optioned to Class AAA Tacoma. Here's how that came down: the Mariners swung a deal with the Twins, sending catcher Jair Fernandez to Minnesota in exchange for the Twins rejecting Seattle's offer to return Dickey to their organization. As a Rule 5 selection, the Mariners had to offer Dickey back to the Twins before sending him to the minors. Dickey also was available via waivers to the other 28 clubs, but surprisingly was not grabbed by anyone. Dickey, who pitched great all spring, was truly stunned and disappointed to be going to the minors, but took it like a pro.

The Mariners decided to keep an 11-man pitching staff, and with Dickey out, the beneficiary was Cha Seung Baek, who makes the team. The Mariners simply didn't want to risk losing Baek, who was out of options. Also making the team was Ryan Rowland-Smith, giving them a pen of J.J. Putz, Erik O'Flaherty, Mark Lowe, Sean Green, Rowland-Smith and Baek.

That means that they will keep five reserves instead of four, and the five are...drum roll...Willie Bloomquist, Miguel Cairo, Jamie Burke, Mike Morse and Charlton Jimerson. The happiest people in Vegas (outside the casinos, anyway), were Morse and Jimerson, who made a major league roster out of spring for the first time in their career. The odd man out was Greg Norton, who was re-assigned to minor league camp and will apparently report to Tacoma.

The Mariners now are down to 26 players. All those people who had Anderson Garcia as the last man to be cut for the roster, take a bow. For some reason, Garcia is still around, but the right-handed pitcher will be cut shortly.

Interesting moves that I'm sure will be heatily debated by you folks. Not sure if they really need a five-man bench, but the fact that Dickey got to stay in the organization I'm sure was huge in their decision making. I think the biggest factor of all was not wanting to lose Baek, who essentially is their sixth starter, insurance if one of the Big Five goes down. As for Dickey, I have no doubt we will see him in Seattle before the year is through.

We also chatted with Brandon Morrow, who seemed on board with the decision to send him to Double-A West Tennessee to regain his form. He was encouraged that his shoulder feels good and he's throwing hard. He expects to be back with the team soon.

That's a lot to chew on. Have at it.

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March 28, 2008 9:21 PM

Morrow, Reed sent down

Posted by Larry Stone

Just got back from the clubhouse, and as expected, the Mariners had a couple of roster moves to announce. Brandon Morrow was optioned to Class AA West Tennessee, where the Mariners hope he will re-discover his command so they can bring him back to the majors. They chose Tennessee over Tacoma because of the better weather. McLaren said he expected Morrow back "fairly soon." Morrow had already boarded the bus, so the media didn't get to talk to him. Given the way Morrow has been pitching since his shoulder troubles, it's a logical move.

Reed, meanwhile, was optioned to AAA Tacoma, and you have to wonder about his future in the organization. I'm sure they are still trying to trade him.

No one said it officially, but Mike Morse is virtually assured of a roster spot. He had three more hits in the Mariners' 10-2 win to raise his average to .508. The only question now is whether they go with six or seven relievers.

Have to go now. A deadline awaits for the paper.

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March 28, 2008 6:11 PM

Update from Vegas

Posted by Larry Stone

Larry Stone here with a quick update from Las Vegas, where I'm having major wireless issues. If you're reading this, it's because someone posted it for me. I can e-mail, but I can't post blog entries at the moment.

The big roster announcement is -- no announcement. At least not until after the game against the Cubs (which begins at 7:15), here at quaint Cashman Field. Manager John McLaren hinted there might be some news afterwards, which would be nice. But it's unlikely to be the entire cutdown. It's looking increasingly like the roster won't be settled until Sunday, when the team works out at Safeco Field.

McLaren did have a pre-game tidbit for us, saying that Brandon Morrow was unlikely to start the season on the disabled list, despite speculation to that effect. He said that Morrow's velocity is still good, but his control remains an issue. Morrow pitched an inning on Thursday against the Giants and walked three. If he's not on the DL, he could start the year in Tacoma to find his command.

The club is still facing the decision on whether to go with a 12-man or 11-man pitching staff. The definite keepers, besides the five starters, are J.J. Putz, Eric O'Flaherty, Sean Green, and Mark Lowe, with Morrow, R.A. Dickey, Ryan Rowland-Smith and Cha Seung Baek candidates for the final two or three spots.

That also leaves the decision on the bench still pending, with Mike Morse, Greg Norton, Jeremy Reed and Charlton Jimerson still sweating it out.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 27, 2008 7:57 PM

Signing off from Peoria

Posted by Geoff Baker

Lots of questions from all of you. I'll provide a handful of answers for you in this video, shot from our Seattle Times condominium in Peoria, Ariz. I'm packing the condo up as we speak, ready to fly back to the Emerald City first thing tomorrow morning. I'll spend the weekend preparing for the team's season-opener. The first two questions you'll see me answer on the video come from Lola and DR in the comments thread. Lola asks what it is about the Arizona air that would impact Erik Bedard as a pitcher and cause him to give up so many home runs this spring. Many of you have asked that question, as well as why someone like Randy Johnson could have success as a strikeout arm down here.

Two different things. Johnson is more of a power pitcher than Bedard. The pitchers most impacted down here are those who rely on a lot of movement to their pitches. A curveball guy like Bedard fits that description. The thing most impacted by the dry air is a pitcher's grip on the ball. If you can't grip it properly, or release it when you want, it's going to be tough to generate the movement needed.

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March 27, 2008 1:55 PM

Peoria finale

Posted by Geoff Baker

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I know some of you want the blow-by-blow of this afternoon's ultra-meaningless game in Peoria. Most of the Mariners side consists of guys who won't be in Seattle when the season begins. I've got tons of work to do today, finishing up our weekend package of baseball treats for all of you. Then, I'm packing up shop here and heading on back to Seattle. No trip to San Francisco for me. I'll get my fix of that city in a couple of weeks when the Mariners visit the Oakland A's. Larry Stone will be with the team in Las Vegas. I'll be at the Sunday afternoon workout at Safeco. We call it teamwork.

3:34 p.m.: And Kevin Witt bounces out to second with runners at second and third, ending this one in a 10-10 tie. The three ties this spring equals a Mariners franchise record. Fun way to end things in Arizona. It all starts for real in a few days. To pborgs in the comments thread, the Yankees-D-Rays are division rivals who've had regular-season brawls and real bad blood the past few years. They weren't going at it because some ticket vendor got miffed at the quality of the other team's guys in a spring training game.

3:24 p.m.: The "Mariners'' fell behind 10-9 in the top of the ninth, but Greg Halman, pride and joy of Harlem (the Netherlands version, not New York's) opened the bottom of the frame with a solo homer to left. Halman hit 16 home runs in short-season Class A ball in Everett last season. Big-time prospect. So, it's now 10-10. Six errors in the game, four by San Diego. The field goal kicker is warming up, I'm told.


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March 27, 2008 12:09 PM

Morrow might not head north

Posted by Geoff Baker

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There is a game being played here today, though it's essentially a Class AAA Mariners team taking on a so-so San Diego Padres lineup. Felix Hernandez gave up a home run on the game's second pitch, then a single on the third, so he's already down 1-0.

No further news about the Mariners roster this morning, other than the fact the team is having second and even third thoughts about bringing Brandon Morrow north to start the season. I have a feeling what we saw out of Mark Lowe yesterday has something to do with that. The team is convinced Lowe can handle himself in the big team's bullpen. There is not as much confidence in Morrow right now, given the fact he's yet to throw a clean inning against Class AA and AAA hitters in his comeback from that shoulder problem. Command is Morrow's biggest enemy right now.

Mariners manager John McLaren told us this morning that he would not be able to complete his roster, as hoped for, prior to the team's noon departure for San Francisco. McLaren talked about the team not wanting to put itself in a bullpen bind as it did last season, when too many pitchers were limited in the number of innings they could throw, or back-to-back days they could work.

"We want flexibility,'' he said.

Given that, I asked him the obvious question.

"Is Brandon Morrow on this team?''

McLaren did not answer in the affirmative.

"We're going to see where we are with him.''


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March 26, 2008 3:57 PM

Lowe impressive as M's win

Posted by Geoff Baker

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NOTE: 5:31 p.m.: One of you asked me for the context of one of Erik Bedard's quotes today. Why don't you just listen to his entire session with reporters right here on this audio clip. Enjoy.

Most interesting part of this 8-5 win by the Mariners, for me at least, was seeing Mark Lowe get up to 95 m.p.h. twice and then hit 96 m.p.h. on his final three pitches of the day. Gave up a leadoff double in the ninth, then settled down to get a flyout to center, a strikeout and a pop fly to right. I caught up with Lowe just as he was getting ready to board the team bus back to Peoria.

"That's kind of the whole idea of spring training,'' he said. "You want to work your way up and then kind of ease into the season if you can.''

Lowe told me he's felt stronger every time out and that today was the best he's felt. Mid-90s heat? This team could certainly use some of that heading into the season.

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March 26, 2008 3:08 PM

Mariners at Kansas City Royals: game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Before we get on with the game, big news out of Angels camp today. It seems that pitcher Kelvim Escobar has a tear in his shoulder that will likely require season-ending surgery. Escobar is even talking about retirement. A waste of a fine pitcher and potential Cy Young winner down the road. But for Mariners fans, this is indeed huge news. Could anyone see this coming? Well, maybe not the retirement part. But this is a lingering problem he's had dating back to last August when I chatted with him at Safeco Field. I don't know many folks down here who truly expected him to be back in May. That's the thing with arm injuries and pitchers. You just never know how much of a season they are going to mess up until the mess starts happening. Happening big-time for the Angels right now.

Bad day all around for the Angels, with news that Preston Gomez, special assistant to the GM and a longtime figure in baseball, was hit by a pickup truck at a gas station and is in very bad shape in a hospital.

Ryan Feierabend just got optioned out to Class AAA Tacoma. No surprise there. He has to work on becoming a starter.

3:08 p.m.: Just got back with the other reporters from interviewing Erik Bedard, who looked a little perplexed about today's outing. Said he wasn't. But didn't seem in the best of moods. Gave up four runs over six innings. Said he felt no "responsibility'' towards his new team and that he wasn't looking at Monday's opener any different. Didn't know if he threw fewer curveballs this spring. Didn't know if he was going to join the team in Las Vegas, or go on back to Seattle ahead of his start.

He has the next five days to figure it all out. Was this spring impressive? No, it was terrible. Every swing at a pitch he threw seemed to travel 400 feet in the other direction. Let's hope it's the Arizona air, at least in you're an M's fan. I've been writing for days that I believe this to be the case. If I'm wrong, though, wow. Never really thought about this much before today. But Bedard just did not seem to believe the shrugs and the "it doesn't matter'' words he was sending our way. Could be he is starting to feel some pressure.

"I don't know,'' he said, when asked how he turns around the results once the games start to count. "We'll see when the game starts. I'll figure it out as we go.''

We'll know more when the regular season begins. Today, he gave up two homers (the inside-the-parker was a blast), a triple, three doubles and the four runs. If all those extra-base hits start dying on the Safeco Field warning track, everything will be OK. If not...well, like I said, that's why they play the games.

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March 26, 2008 10:22 AM

Reitsma, Rhodes not making it

Posted by Geoff Baker

Let's clarify exactly what's gone on here this morning, because there have been some moves on the pitching front. Both Chris Reitsma and Arthur Rhodes have yet to be officially cut, but were told by the team this morning that they will not be on the opening day roster. The M's want them to continue with their throwing program in the minors and not try to rush back in time for some March 31 deadline.

We told you this about Rhodes earlier in the week. There was no way the team was going to risk re-injuring him by rushing him back in his comeback attempt. Reitsma is also apparently not as far along as Mark Lowe, who has already thrown in back-to-back games and now looks likely to head north. Rhodes and Reitsma can both refuse assignments to the minors and become free-agents. (correction -- 12:27 p.m.: Actually, they can't refuse. They are both on Class AAA contracts. So, they either play there, or retire. They can also ask team for release, but M's don't have to give it.) Rhodes is apparently sticking with the team's program and will head to San Francisco and Las Vegas with the club and try to throw on consecutive days before resuming his throwing program.

Reitsma, for now, has gone home and will think about his future.

"They are both throwing the ball well,'' Mariners manager John McLaren said. "We want to make sure they stick to their throwing programs.''


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March 26, 2008 4:16 AM

Protecting your fan-hood

Posted by Geoff Baker

Great debate yesterday on my question of what makes Seattle baseball fans tick. The point of the exercise wasn't to complain about you disputing my picks. It was to figure out exactly what was driving some of the negative reactions I was seeing; the literally vitriolic backlash to suggestions the Mariners might have a good thing going and be able to win the AL West. I was impressed by how much thought went into your answers and I am in agreement with much of what was said. Let's look at some of it:

Certainly part of the answer is that there are a lot of reasonably intelligent folks in Mariner Blogland who think that the Mariners management makes some pretty poor decisions. They would like the team to be well run and think it is not. They differ with your more rosy assessment of the Ms chances and are pretty sure last year's record was fool's gold. -- Mike

USSM and Lookout Landing are two of the best statistics based sites on the internet, they also happen to be Mariners based sites. While the writers of those sights offer intelligent well thought out discourse on the M's they do not currently have a high opinion of the make up of the team and front office. -- skiba

It's probably safe to say the M's have a higher percentage of sabermetrics fans than other teams. The fans Geoff speaks of are most likely rooting for/against the conflicting philosphies, not necessarily the team. -- Thomas

Agree with those statements and others like them. Not the "rosy analysis'' and "fool's gold'' parts, obviously, but the general thrust. The Mariner blogosphere might be the most intelligent in the country when it comes to understanding statistical analysis. And I believe that any team not embracing the new numbers as enthusiastically, at least in public, could take it on the chin when things go wrong. The M's certainly fall into that category, seen as more traditional in approach and having accomplished very little on the field since the true eruption of the blogosphere the past five years.

Shall we continue?

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March 25, 2008 9:56 PM

M's take a 5-1 drubbing

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Not much offense to speak of from the Mariners tonight. Their five hits total was only one more than Hank Blalock of the Rangers had by himself. Is this offense cause for concern? Just a bit. But it doesn't have to great, only as good as last year. That said, the hitters have to find ways to get on base. At least, at a better rate than we've seen lately. This club will win some 3-2 and 4-3 games with its pitching. But it can't score three runs or less all season. That's a recipe for disaster. I don't think it will, but I'm not completely sold on what I've seen this week.

Good news? Miguel Batista says he had no pain in his back tonight when he threw. That said, his command was off. What is it with Batista and Jarrod Washburn? Their backs hurt, they are control demons. Batista says his control had been getting better and better prior to tonight. All that with a sore back. Now, his back feels good and no control. Go figure.

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March 25, 2008 7:04 PM

Mariners at Texas Rangers: game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Mariners (10-14-2):

51 Ichiro Suzuki (L) CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
28 Raul Ibanez (L) LF
44 Richie Sexson 1B
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
6 Brad Wilkerson (L) RF
3 Jose Vidro (S) DH
15 Jamie Burke C
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
----------------------------
43 Miguel Batista RHP

Additional Pitchers:

20 J.J. Putz RHP
33 Chris Reitsma RHP
59 Eric O'Flaherty LHP

Texas Rangers (14-10-2):

5 Ian Kinsler 2B
7 David Murphy (L) LF
10 Michael Young SS
9 Hank Blalock (L) 3B
21 Milton Bradley (S) RF
27 Frank Catalanotto (L) DH
22 Marlon Byrd CF
2 Adam Melhuse (S) C
23 Ben Broussard (L) 1B
----------------------------
14 Kazuo Fukumori RHP

Additional Pitchers:

43 Kameron Loe RHP
50 Frank Francisco RHP
54 Franklyn German RHP
58 Wes Littleton RHP
59 Josh Rupe RHP

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March 25, 2008 3:27 PM

Sights and Sounds: Morrow "shelled''

Posted by Geoff Baker

The "shelled'' part was Brandon Morrow's description, not mine. He pitched in a Class AAA game against Texas this afternoon and it wasn't pretty. Morrow gave up five runs on four hits, including a three-run homer and an RBI triple. Also issued two walks. All in just a third of an inning. He managed a strikeout, his only batter retired on a frustrating day. The M's pulled him with a runner on third and the inning wasn't continued (that's the way these minor league games work down here).

My take? Morrow obviously struggled with his location. He said the mound height made it difficult to spot his pitches early. They were coming in too low. Morrow said he felt fine, but obviously was not happy with the results. I'm not all that surprised, given that he's barely faced live hitters the past two weeks. That said, I'm concerned about the state of this bullpen heading into the first week of the season. Morrow does not look ready to get big-league hitters out. You need control to do that. Control was an issue for him for much of last season. He needs work. As of right now, he's got a few days before the season starts. I think he'll be on the opening day roster. But this is a work in-progress. I think you can assume a 12-man pitching staff to start the year.

Anyhow, our video today is of every pitch of Morrow's outing. You'll see his two opening walks, sandwiched around a stolen base, then an RBI single. After that, the home run, a single and then a triple. Bronson Sardinha nearly killed himself leaping at the wall for the triple. He's OK. But Morrow got whacked. No doubt about it.

Thanks for all the great responses to this morning's post. I'll post some thoughts on it a bit later. Forget about Reed Johnson for now. As predicted, he was snatched up very quickly. A $1.3-million deal with the Chicago Cubs.

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March 25, 2008 9:25 AM

Figuring out the fans

Posted by Geoff Baker

OK, let's throw a rock at the proverbial hornets' nest and see what happens. The Mariners, by the way, are officially tied for first-place, a half-game up on the Oakland A's, who lost 6-5 to the Boston Red Sox in Japan this morning. Or, was that tomorrow afternoon? Can't figure this international dateline thing out.

Anyhow, some of you will be pleased with that result. Others, I'm not so sure. I'm now a full 18 months into my stint in Seattle and I'm having a hard time figuring out what drives M's fans. What got me thinking about this was a question from a media colleague last week. "So, what do you think of the fans in Seattle?'' he asked me. "Do they behave like fans in other cities?''

I wanted to tell him yes, but couldn't. That day, I'd already gotten a couple of the usual emails from M's fans chiding me for picking the team to win the division. Haven't stopped hearing about that one. Thing is, I wasn't hearing about it from fans of the A's, Angels or Rangers. I was getting blasted by M's fans. And I'm sorry, that just isn't standard practice in other cities.

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March 24, 2008 3:41 PM

Mariners earn 3-1 win

Posted by Geoff Baker

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A much better performance by the Mariners today, nailed down by Eric O'Flaherty (pictured above) on a strikeout of Nick Swisher in the ninth. So, it's a 3-1 win by Seattle over the Chicago White Sox. Jarrod Washburn went seven innings, allowing just three hits, while Mark Lowe pitched on back-to-back days for the first time since August 2006. A big test for Lowe, who gave up a leadoff triple to Swisher in the eighth, then consecutive singles before settling down and preventing the big inning.

Despite the run, both Lowe and manager John McLaren were pleased with what happened out on the mound.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 24, 2008 1:02 PM

Sights and Sounds: Mike Morse

Posted by Geoff Baker

To keep with the theme of the Mike Morse love-in found on this blog's comment threads in recent days, we've devoted our entire video feature today to this one jack-of-all-trades. The first sequences will see Morse taking grounders at third base. After, we see him working the outfield under the tutelage of onetime Mariners great Jay Buhner. To say Buhner gets up-close with Morse is an understatement. He's practically right on top of his back during some of the shots. All the outfield work was done after the team's regular workout, which is why there are no other players around.

As in past days, if you want to comment on the video, use the thread in this post. But for other stuff, please revert to the game thread, which I will be updating throughout the afternoon. Thanks! By the way, J.J. from the comments thread phoned in sick today. But we expect him/her to be sending in our daily video at some point this week. Get well soon, J.J.


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March 24, 2008 1:01 PM

White Sox at Mariners: game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Chicago White Sox (9-15-3):

38 Pablo Ozuna 2B
10 Alexei Ramirez CF
25 Jim Thome DH
14 Paul Konerko 1B
30 Nick Swisher LF
24 Joe Crede 3B
5 Juan Uribe SS
32 Brian Anderson RF
44 Toby Hall C
----------------------------
52 Jose Contreras RHP

Additional Pitchers:
53 D.J. Carrasco RHP
57 Boone Logan LHP


Mariners (9-14-2):

51 Ichiro Suzuki (L) CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
28 Raul Ibanez (L) LF
44 Richie Sexson DH
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
6 Brad Wilkerson (L) RF
3 Jose Vidro (S) 1B
2 Kenji Johjima C
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
----------------------------
56 Jarrod Washburn LHP

Additional Pitchers:

18 Ryan Rowland-Smith LHP
33 Chris Reitsma RHP
48 Roy Corcoran RHP
53 Arthur Rhodes LHP
57 Mark Lowe RHP
59 Eric O'Flaherty LHP

Continue reading this post ...


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March 24, 2008 9:07 AM

Balentien, Woods cut

Posted by Geoff Baker

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A look above at Mike Morse, working the hot corner this morning with one week to go until the Mariners open their season. The season being so close means it's time for more cuts. Outfielder Wladimir Balentien was the biggest name optioned to Class AAA Tacoma this morning. Catcher Rob Johnson is joining him there as well.

Lefthanded pitcher Jake Woods, who opened some eyes down in camp, was reassigned to the team's minor league camp.

Balentien could be called up by the team at some point this summer.

"He's a young kid learning the strike zone and we want him playing every day,'' Mariners manager John McLaren said, later adding that "to me, he mirrors (Jeff) Clement. We don't want those guys sitting around as extra players. We want them playing on a regular basis and if we need him, he'll be ready.''

It's looking less and less likely that the team's roster will be set by the time it leaves Peoria on Thursday. One reason is the two rehabbing right handers, Chris Reitsma and Mark Lowe. The latter will pitch his second straight game today, while the former goes today and tomorrow.

One of the two is likely to make the squad. Left hander Arthur Rhodes is also rehabbing an elbow injury, but not as far along as the other two.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 23, 2008 4:30 PM

Sights and Sounds: Silva getting low-balled

Posted by Geoff Baker

Mariners pitcher Carlos Silva was pleased with his effort today, despite allowing six runs on 10 hits and two walks over five innings of a Class AAA game. He did notch seven strikeouts. But he also felt the plate umpire wasn't giving him enough low strikes. See for yourself. Keep in mind, the balls being called on him weren't all consecutive. This is just a compilation (some artistic license on my part) of "ball calls" by the umpire to emphasize the theme of the day. You'll hear Silva complain after one particular four-pitch walk. See the look on his face as one of numerous ground ball hits sneaks through a hard infield. Watch him yield a stolen base and later, a double. But he does get his share of strikes called, which you'll see at the end. I top the video off with a strikeout, just for accuracy's sake.

Anyhow, just enjoy this for what it is -- entertainment, close-up action shots of a major league pitcher. Don't try to analyze anything off it.

NOTES (5:21 p.m.): For Adam in the comments thread, no one said anywhere today that Reed Johnson is a .390 OBP guy. Only that he's better than what the M's currently have out there. If he's a .350 OBP guy, he's better than most of the M's current lineup. As I've already mentioned, he was a .332 OBP guy a few seasons back. What he isn't is a .302 OBP performer the way he was in one injury-plagued season. His career on-base percentage is .342, even with last season's injury-impacted stats. I'd assume he was a .350 OBP guy, smile and ink him to a deal.

9:36 p.m.: For salumsden in the comments thread, nothing to be confused about. A .390 OBP is what Johnson had in 2006. Can't change it. If I'm going to argue for bringing him here, the fact he's capable of reaching such heights is going to get mentioned. You want to argue that he's closer to the .305 OBP he had last year? Let's hear it. I'm just pointing out that his last healthy year was pretty darned good. Doesn't mean he'll always attain that number. May never again. But we know he can because he's done it. So, no need for confusion. The .390 is right there in black and white. Always will be. Hope that clears things up.

11:07 p.m.: Hey everyone, J.J. in the comments thread has volunteered to shoot tomorrow's video. Be sure to send him (her?) your requests.


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March 23, 2008 3:06 PM

Morrow throws 12-pitch outing

Posted by Geoff Baker

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And there he goes, catching a ride via the new Bill Bavasi limo service. That's trainer Rick Griffin doing the driving, with Bavasi in the front seat as they cart Morrow back to the clubhouse from the field where he threw a 12-pitch inning in a Class AA game against Milwaukee's affiliate. Morrow yielded a bloop single to the first batter, then notched a flyball to right, a groundout and an infield popout. He was only supposed to go the one inning today and that's all he got.

"I didn't want to stay out there and labor too long,'' he said, adding that he felt fine even if his control was a little off.

Morrow would prefer to throw in back-to-back games. But pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre said moments ago that probably won't be possible.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 23, 2008 9:49 AM

Shields out, Sexson has bursitis

Posted by Geoff Baker

UPDATE (10:52 a.m.): Apparently, the M's just figured out that Brandon Morrow's minor league game won't be until 1 p.m. That means I'm staying put here. The Angels game will have to wait. For Andrew in the comments thread, I think Reed Johnson would be an excellent pickup for the M's. Can do all the little things right, like bunt, steal bases, use a takeout slide. Had a .390 OBP out of the leadoff spot in the order in 2006. Oh yeah, can also hit and plays good defense. Not much to dislike. Does get hurt from diving after balls and stuff. But would be a great bench addition and could start two or three days a week if needed. To keep using the same cliche, he plays the game the right way.

Brandon Morrow will pitch in a minor league game in about 40 minutes, along with Carlos Silva. The game will take place a few hundred yards from our press location, so I'll be there. The M's are doing this so that the Angels won't get an advance preview of the two when the teams meet this afternoon in Tempe, Ariz. Yes, I'll be at that game as well.

In the anything-you-can-do, we-can-do-worse department, the Angels have shut down set-up man Scot Shields. He might not be ready to start the year. If so, that's right up there with Morrow, or worse.

Lots of panic going on in the comments thread of our last post. Nothing like a little negativity to get this blog hopping. Here's some more for you: Richie Sexson has bursitis in his shoulder and received an injection to help it this morning.

The team says it's nothing serious, that he'll play tomorrow. They say he got it while sleeping.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 22, 2008 4:35 PM

M's drop 8-5 yawner

Posted by Geoff Baker

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A shot above of Adrian Beltre, trudging off the field with other Mariners following an 8-5 loss to the Texas Rangers in front of 11,029 at Peoria Stadium. Most of the action in this game took place the first inning, when the Mariners jumped ahead 4-2. After that, it was a long, slow afternoon for Seattle pitching. The hitting slowed down a huge bunch as well and there were the requisite baserunning and fielding mistakes.

Manager John McLaren summed it up perfectly afterwards.

"I don't care about when spring training ends,'' McLaren said. "I do care about how we play the game and I don't like what I've seen lately.''

Well put. Not much more to say. Hear the rest of it right here if you don't want to take my word for it. But really, it's very straightforward. Spring training statistics don't mean all that much. But playing the game well? Playing it the right way? That certainly does matter when the regular season is eight days away from beginning. Right now, the M's are not playing the game right. Haven't for a few days. And yes, unlike Ichiro's 0-for-21, or Erik Bedard's seven homers allowed in 18 innings, not playing the game the right way is a reason for concern.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 22, 2008 2:15 PM

Sights and Sounds: Putz splitter

Posted by Geoff Baker

Ever wondered what a batter feels like going up against J.J. Putz and his split-fingered fastball? Today's video footage should give you some idea. It was shot at this morning's minor league game, with Putz throwing two innings for Class AAA Tacoma against Felix Hernandez and Class AA West Tennessee. The footage is all of Putz's second inning of work. He gave up a home run in his first inning, then settled down in the second frame and got three quick outs -- two on strikeouts. He was then left in to face another few batters because he was eight pitches shy of his day's limit. The first extra batter he faces, switch-hitter Jeff Dominguez, winds up lining a double to left center off him. In all, he goes 2 2/3 innings and gives up the home run (to Josh Womack)

I'll still be updating the game thread (my previous post), so you can keep your questions and comments about the game/team/players over there. But if you want to comment on the video, or Putz, feel free to post those here.

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March 22, 2008 1:34 PM

Rangers at Mariners: game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Texas Rangers (12-9-2):

5 Ian Kinsler 2B
28 Kevin Mench LF
10 Michael Young SS
9 Hank Blalock (L) 3B
21 Milton Bradley (S) DH
22 Marlon Byrd RF
29 Jason Botts (S) 1B
7 David Murphy (L) CF
15 Gerald Laird C
----------------------------
64 Eric Hurley RHP

Additional Pitchers:
36 C.J. Wilson LHP
45 Jamey Wright RHP
53 Joaquin Benoit RHP
58 Wes Littleton RHP
59 Josh Rupe RHP


Mariners (9-12-2):

51 Ichiro Suzuki (L) CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
28 Raul Ibaez (L) RF
44 Richie Sexson DH
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
10 Greg Norton (S) 1B
12 Mike Morse RF
15 Jamie Burke C
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
----------------------------
31 Ryan Feierabend LHP

Additional Pitchers:

33 Chris Reitsma RHP
48 Roy Corcoran RHP
49 Jake Woods LHP
53 Arthur Rhodes LHP
59 Eric O'Flaherty LHP

Continue reading this post ...


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March 22, 2008 9:42 AM

Bullpen picture still murky

Posted by Geoff Baker

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One week before the Mariners play their final pre-season game, the team's bullpen situation is as unclear as it's ever been. Yes, the team knows J.J. Putz (pictured above, throwing in a minor league game this morning) will be the closer. It knows Eric O'Flaherty will be the situational lefthander in the late innings. And Sean Green fits in there somewhere in the seventh or eighth.

But that's it.

And with a week to go before the flight back to Seattle, that's all a little unsettling.

"We're going to have to sort this out a little at a time and see where we are,'' Mariners manager John McLaren said this morning. "We don't want to paint ourselves into a corner with innings available in the bullpen.''

Brandon Morrow should provide some further insights to the questions when he pitches in a game of some sort tomorrow. Still trying to figure out whether it will be a big-league contest or minor league affair. Most likely the latter. But the fact he's been green-lighted is a positive sign. He threw a bullpen session yesterday and apparently feels OK this morning.

So, that's a start.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 21, 2008 3:54 PM

M's "flat'' in 8-3 loss

Posted by Geoff Baker

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That's what manager John McLaren just called his team. Said they came out "flat'' and were never really in this game with the Kansas City Royals, taking an 8-3 loss. The game ended on an Oswaldo Navarro double-play ball after Seatte tacked on a run in the ninth. Mike Morse had a great at-bat in the inning, staying alive by fouling off numerous pitches before lining a single. So, his day ended better than it began.

But most of the post-game talk was about Erik Bedard.

"I thought Erik centered some balls,'' McLaren said. "An 0-2 count, he was trying to go in and he got it out over the plate. A change-up on Guillen, he got it up and he hit it out. It didn't look like he had a lot of adrenaline to day to be honest with you.''

I asked McLaren whether he thought the dry air in Arizona was wreaking havoc with Bedard.

"I would think that would have a lot to do with it,'' he said.

Hear some of what McLaren said in this audio clip.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 21, 2008 1:13 PM

Royals at Mariners: game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Kansas City Royals (11-10):

9 David DeJesus (L) CF
13 Alberto Callaspo (S) 2B
4 Alex Gordon (L) 3B
11 Jose Guillen RF
16 Billy Butler DH
24 Mark Teahen (L) LF
7 Ross Gload (L) 1B
1 Tony Pena, Jr SS
12 Matt Tupman (L) C
----------------------------
55 Gil Meche RHP

Additional Pitchers:

45 Ron Mahay LHP
48 Joakim Soria RHP
27 Yasuhiko Yabuta RHP
66 Chin-Hui Tsao RHP
46 Leo Nunez RHP


Seattle Mariners (9-11-2):

13 Miguel Cairo SS
3 Jose Vidro (S) 1B
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
44 Richie Sexson DH
6 Brad Wilkerson RF
50 Wladimir Balentien CF
2 Kenji Johjima C
12 Mike Morse LF
23 Tug Hulett (L) 2B
----------------------------
45 Erik Bedard LHP

Additional Pitchers:

18 Ryan Rowland-Smith LHP
48 Roy Corcoran RHP
54 Sean Green RHP
57 Mark Lowe RHP

Continue reading this post ...


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March 21, 2008 12:10 PM

Morrow throws bullpen session

Posted by Geoff Baker

Brandon Morrow just finished his latest bullpen session. If his arm feels fine tomorrow, he could pitch for the Mariners on Sunday. We'll see. You can watch Morrow's session in the later part of some video we've posted for you above. The first part sees Yuniesky Betancourt trying to snag a hot grounder at third base. Regular third baseman Adrian Beltre watches, then shows Betancourt how it's done.

We spoke to Miguel Batista a little earlier on in the day. His back is still bothering him just a little, though not as badly as it had been his last couple of times out.

"Better than last time, that's the good news,'' he said. "My first three starts, I pulled my back and then after I iced it, I couldn't walk.''

But today, he feels "really minor soreness.''

His biggest problems during games have been after he sits down between innings.

Batista hasn't been able to do his regular work between starts because of all the pain. Manager John McLaren said team trainer Rick Griffin "is on top of it'' and devised a plan for Batista to try to eliminate -- or at least manage -- the pain.

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March 21, 2008 9:00 AM

Morse not on team yet

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Just got out of manager John McLaren's office and he's as ticked off as I've seen him all spring. Not with the media, more like his team. He's trying to stay positive but is still very frustrated by what he saw last night when his team left the bases loaded with none out in the 10th inning of a 6-6 tie with the San Diego Padres. Getting runners home in key situations is something the Mariners have preached since the start of camp. With the team set to finalize its roster in less than a week, the same mistakes are being made. The same job isn't getting done. It's gotten so bad that McLaren (pictured above) is apparently ready to step in and do the hitting himself. OK, maybe not.

"It was our Achilles heel last year and we still see signs of it,'' he said. "If we're going to be a good ball club, we can't leave runners stranded at third base with less than two out.''

Mike Morse didn't do himself any favors by hitting into the 10th-inning double-play and botching a pair of late fly balls. McLaren insists he isn't going to use one game as a determining factor, but admits he still has uncertainty about who he's going to go with as his extra outfielder.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 20, 2008 10:22 PM

Not a happy tie

Posted by Geoff Baker

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This one sure ended a lot worse than it began for the Mariners. Now normally, a 6-6 tie with the San Diego Padres in a 10-inning spring training affair would generate a "so what?'' shrug. Not tonight. It wasn't so much the ninth-inning home run yielded by Eric O'Flaherty (pictured above, leaving the park after the game) that erased Seattle's 6-4 lead. It was some other stuff that happened.

Mike Morse nearly gave San Diego the game by misplaying an ensuing fly ball into a triple. The M's survived that. But then the 10th. Oh, the 10th. It wasn't pretty.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 20, 2008 7:02 PM

Mariners at Padres: game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

stadium 007.jpg

Nice to be at home for a "road" game. That's what happens when you share the same stadium as the team you're playing. This might be the nicest night of the spring down here. A pleasant 78 degrees as the sun goes down. The anthem singer just finished, so we're about to get underway.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 20, 2008 4:48 PM

Looking at the No. 2 hole (again)

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Up above, lefty starter Erik Bedard makes a throw to first during a bunt coverage drill taking place as I write this. Spoke with manager John McLaren not too long ago and he's going, as you know, with Jose lopez once again tonight in the No. 2 spot in the order. We talked a bit yesterday about why the M's would be experimenting with No. 2 hitters this spring, one of which being the team would need somebody to take Jose Vidro's spot if he:

a) struggles
b) gets too close to his 2009 vesting option kicking in while putting up mediocre numbers

Well, McLaren presented a third option this afternoon and I can't disagree with it.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 20, 2008 2:33 PM

Red Sox boycott

Posted by Geoff Baker

Interesting situation yesterday where the Boston Red Sox threatened to boycott their final pre-season game in Florida and then not get on a plane to Japan. All in favor of making sure coaches and support staff were paid extra for making the trip -- as they have been on past occasions in Asia.

The players have been roundly applauded for their stance, which secured an extra $20,000 per person that MLB has agreed to pay out of proceeds from the games in Japan. Only one problem. I'm with ESPN.com's Buster Olney on this one. The players agreed to all of this -- including the coaches not being paid -- when their own association hammered out a deal. I mean, is it too much to ask players to pay attention to what their own union is doing on their behalf?

And if the players missed that little detail? They should pay the difference out of their pockets. Not make MLB look bad by complaining about it after the fact. I mean, that's almost like newspapers signing a collective agreement with the reporters' unions -- ones that don't contain provisions for blogging on the side -- and then complaining when reporters refuse to blog for free.

Well...when some of them refuse, that is. But I digress.

The players deserve to be applauded for thinking of someone other than themselves for a change. But they should have paid attention a lot sooner. And owned up to their own mistake instead of blaming MLB after they agreed to a binding contract. My take, anyway. What's yours?

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March 20, 2008 9:38 AM

Sights and Sounds: Morrow's bullpen session

Posted by Geoff Baker

A look at yesterday's late-afternoon bullpen session thrown by Brandon Morrow. Interesting to see the interplay between him and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, even for something as routine as this. It amazes me how some folks think that coaches at the big league level are simply there to pick up towels for the players. Nope. It's the same as in Little League. The players are told things and they (for the most part) listen. Even the veterans (the smart ones) take in the advice they're given. Now, some pitchers, who've earned their living for years throwing a certain way, will be reluctant to take advice, especially from a new coach. It often takes time to build trust.

Also, there are certain things a player is expected to know once he reaches the big league level. But you never stop learning. I guess that's the lesson this morning.

To clear some things up from having read the previous comments thread: Sean Green is on this team. Actually, if Morrow isn't 100 percent good to go, Green becomes a very important late-inning fixture in the eighth. He already is being leaned on heavily.

Also, when I asked John McLaren about this yesterday, he told me that probably only one, if any, of the Arthur Rhodes, Chris Reitsma, Mark Lowe trio would be ready to start the season with the M's. Speaking of M's relievers, check out Seattle-based ESPN reporter Jim Caple in this video, catching knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

Thanks to all of you who wrote in about today's story on Mariners pitching prospect Nick Hill, a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Army. What do you think about the story? I got an email from a U.S. Marine who had to pass up a Division 1 soccer scholarship offer to go to Iraq. Should pro athletes from the Army be allowed to pursue sports careers while amateur athletes, or pros and amateurs in other branches of the military, must first complete their full military obligations (often overseas in conflict zones)? Interesting discussion point. What do you think about it?


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March 19, 2008 10:09 PM

M's win 7-4

Posted by Geoff Baker

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A look at the Mariners congratulating themselves after a 7-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks in front of 12,711 fans, the sixth-largest crowd in Peoria Stadium history. Just ran into a couple of fans who attended our Seattle Times Mariners Blog Event back in February. Very cool. Could only talk for a few moments before we had to charge down on to the field to interview John McLaren.

By the way, the M's just reassigned left handed pitcher Philip Barzilla and infielder Matt Tuiasosopo of Woodinville to minor league camp. Nothing surprising there.

For me, the best that could be said about this game was the relief pitching by Seattle. Ryan Rowland-Smith tossed 2 1/3 innings of scoreless ball, allowing two hits (one an infield single) and two walks while fanning three. Sean Green also went a scoreless 2 1/3 innings, coming in with the bases juiced in the sixth and getting Conor Jackson to ground into a fielder's choice force out at third.

"We brought him in with the bases loaded just to give him a different look for the first time this spring,'' McLaren said.


Continue reading this post ...


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March 19, 2008 7:07 PM

Diamondbacks at Mariners: game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

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We're just getting underway here on a beautiful night in Arizona. Richie Sexson still has a bit of a sore shoulder from the other day. He was due to sit out, but wanted in the game so is now the DH. Jose Vidro moves to first. Greg Norton sits.

Arizona Diamondbacks (8-12-1):

24 Chris Young CF
34 Conor Jackson 1B
1 Orlando Hudson 2B
22 Eric Byrnes LF
19 Chris Snyder C
27 Mark Reynolds 3B
6 Stephen Drew SS
10 Justin Upton RF
44 Micah Owings RHP

*Arizona will not use the DH


Mariners (8-11-1):

51 Ichiro Suzuki (L) CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
28 Raul Ibanez (L) LF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
10 Richie Sexson 1B
6 Brad Wilkerson (L) RF
3 Jose Vidro (S) 1B
2 Kenji Johjima C
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
----------------------------
56 Jarrod Washburn LHP


Additional Pitchers:

18 Ryan Rowland-Smith LHP
20 J.J. Putz RHP
54 Sean Green RHP


Continue reading this post ...


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March 19, 2008 5:19 PM

Clement, Jimenez among latest cuts

Posted by Geoff Baker

morrow 009.jpg

A look at Brandon Morrow throwing a bullpen session this afternoon that lasted roughly six minutes. Morrow worked with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre at mainly finding his arm slot and release point again after being sidelined since last week with a fatigued shoulder. Morrow will throw another bullpen on Friday, then could get back into a game by early next week.

"That's not too bad in the big scheme of things,'' Morrow said of the roughly two weeks of action he'd wind up missing this spring.

The team is waiting on a Morrow update before making final bullpen decisions. But some have already been finalized.

Just got word of the latest cuts in Mariners camp and the biggest names out there are catcher Jeff Clement and lefty reliever Cesar Jimenez. Neither is much of a shock, but both had been given outside chances at making the team. Jimenez being sent down to Class AAA means that Eric O'Flaherty will be the team's situational lefty.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 19, 2008 3:46 PM

Rough rehabs

Posted by Geoff Baker

Three of the M's pitching hopefuls rebounding from elbow injuries took the mound today in a minor league game between Class AAA Tacoma and Class AA West Tennessee. But things did not go all that great for Arthur Rhodes, Chris Reitsma and Mark Lowe.

Rhodes went two innings for Tacoma, yielding five earned runs on five hits. Yikes! Rhodes also yielded a walk and struck a batter out. But those are not confidence-inspiring numbers. And while it isn't really about the numbers in spring training, when you're rehabbing two weeks before the season starts and get poleaxed by a AA squad, you've got some work ahead of you.

Reitsma pitched an inning for the AA squad, allowing a run on a hit and two walks. He struck out a pair as well.

Lowe had the best line of the three, yielding a run on two hits while striking out a pair over two innings for the AA team.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 19, 2008 10:04 AM

Vidro, Betancourt and the No. 2 hole

Posted by Geoff Baker

Some of you continue to write in, asking me about the Mariners experimenting with Yuniesky Betancourt in the No. 2 spot in the order. Others have written, suggesting it's not in the team's best interest to have Jose Vidro attain the specific number of trips to the plate he needs for a 2009 vesting option to kick in (rumored to be either 400 at-bats, or 450 plate appearances).

I'd suggest a possible link between those two issues.

The laments about Vidro have been well-chronicled. For the first half of last season, he hit for too little power. Many of you remain unconvinced that his second-half improvement will carry over to this season. Fair enough. I'll take it a step further, as some of you have, and say that the Mariners have no reason to wait half a season this time around to see whether or not Vidro is for real.

Hit like he did in the second-half, with an on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS) of .820-.850, over an entire season and it's not a problem. Produce a sub-.700 OPS in the first half once again and the problem can't be ignored.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 18, 2008 2:17 PM

Sexson must produce quickly

Posted by Geoff Baker

One of you wrote in today, challenging part of my forecast for the coming season in saying there is no way the Mariners would bench an underperforming Richie Sexson. I disagree. In fact, it's a little remembered reality of last season that new manager John McLaren did actually bench Sexson beginning on Aug. 1, as you can read in the attached blog post from that night. More accurately, McLaren began platooning Sexson with Ben Broussard. The night before, in an 8-0 loss to the Angels, Sexson had been roundly booed by his own fans. The decision was made not to play him every day against right handed pitchers at Safeco Field and subject him to more abuse while he was trying to work some things out.

So, to say McLaren would not have the guts to sit a veteran isn't entirely accurate. He's already done it.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 18, 2008 7:03 AM

M's no longer AL West underdogs

Posted by Geoff Baker

Thanks to Larry Stone for filling in on this blog yesterday. Don't have any limericks for you, but I'm sure we'll have plenty to discuss after this post.

Never thought I'd be saying this in March. Not the way the season ended last September. And certainly not the way the Mariners looked to me a year ago at this time. But as things currently stand, I am picking Seattle to win the AL West. I know that's going to set quite a few of you off, which seems a little odd to me considering most of you are fans of the team. But no matter.

Miguel Batista, quoted in a preview story about the M's in today's editions of USA Today, says he liked the idea that nobody is favoring Seattle in the AL West. Wants the M's to be able to sneak up on folks. Those quotes were taken last week, I believe, before the Angels were rocked by an injury to John Lackey. As of today, I believe that changes the division landscape. Batista wants his team to be the darkhorse. But I don't believe that's the case any longer.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 17, 2008 5:06 PM

Over and out

Posted by Larry Stone

A couple of final thoughts from today, and then Im going to sign off. My 8-year-old son, Jordan, is here with me in Peoria to watch some baseball, along with my brother-in-law, Robert. They have plans for tonight that don't include blogging.

--Jim Riggleman, who managed the Peoria game for the Mariners, called it a "typical Arizona game -- light air, hard ground. It's hard for pitchers to even get their work in." The Mariners gave up -- yikes -- 25 hits in a 17-3 loss to Milwaukee. Carlos Silva, as already discussed, got lit up, but so did Sean White and Jon Huber.

--But, on the other hand, the Mariners nearly pitched a shutout in Surprise, about five miles up the road. Same Arizona, same air, same ground, last time I checked. The Mariners took a 5-0 shutout into the ninth before Erik O'Flaherty gave up a couple of runs. The M's won 5-2 over the Rangers. The pitching stars were Cha Seung Baek (four shutout innings, one hit) and R.A. Dickey (three shutout innings, three hits). It looks more and more like Dickey, a Rule 5 guy, is going to make this team. And Baek, with a 0.82 ERA, is making a pretty good case for himself.

--I'm a big proponent of overlooking Arizona performances, but, man, Ichiro really looked bad today. He struck out three times, grounded out and popped out. Now he's hitting .105. Put him down for .332 this year -- but it would be nice if he started hitting with authority.

--That said, the Mariners could be excused for dragging. They've been going non-step since mid-February, which is why the entire team is welcoming Tuesday's day off - their only scheduled off day of the spring.

"I think you will see a little more energized ballclub as opposed to what saw today on Wednesday when we come back,'' Riggleman said.

--Thanks for your limericks. I'll try to come up with a couple more.

--I've been impressed with Matt Tuiasosopo, who had a couple of solid hits. He's still raw, but he just looks like a ballplayer. I see a bright future for him.

--I still enjoy hearing the name "Tony Gwynn" announced over the P.A. It's Gwynn Jr., and he looks like he has a pretty good stick, too.

--Speaking of offspring, the Brewers put a guy named Michael Brantley into left field late in the g ame, and he had one of their 25 hits. He's the son of former Mariners outfielder Mickey Brantley.

--Good news on reliever Brandon Morrow. He threw in the pen and felt great. MOrrow has been bothered by a sore arm, but the Mariners don't think it's serioius.

Adios, for now. The family beckons.


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March 17, 2008 2:07 PM

Brewers at Mariners, game thread

Posted by Larry Stone


3:05 p.m. Just got back from talking to Silva, who wasn't too shaken up. Turns out that he was experimenting with a new pitch -- a cut fastball -- that he had been working on with Mel Stottlemyre. He said he used it too often in the fifth and got rocked with it. He didn't feel it was anything to be concerned about, because in a real game he would have ditched the pitch. Silva felt that he threw well until the fifth.

"Good start, bad finish,'' he said.


2:35 p.m. Make that seven straight hits off Silva before he was finally pulled from the game. And every one of them was a rocket. The Silva line is ugly: 4 1/3 innings, 13 hits, nine runs (so far; one of his runners is still on second). I'm interested to hear his take in the clubhouse..


2:30 p.m.: OK, Silva's outing is careening toward the disaster status. In the fifth, after striking out the first hitter, he's giving up five straight hits, all bullets, including a home run to right field by Eric Munson. Make that six straight hits, all bullets.


Sorry, Im having a few technical issues, but I think Im OK now. Except for the apostrophes. Never realized how many of those you use. Im going to go without em for now, until I figure out how to not get the weird coding. BTW, the computer folks in Seattle are working furiously to deal with the posting issues, and believe they will be cleared up by mid-week.

It's 3-2, Milwaukee, in the fourth. The Mariners just knocked out Chris Capuano in the fourth with back-to-back homers by Richie Sexson and Wladimir Balentien. Kenji Johjima followed with his second single, Willie Bloomquist walked, and Capuano got the hook.

Carlos Silva has been a bit ragged, giving up six hits in four innings. But one was a wind-blown popup dropped by third baseman Matt Tuiasosopo, one was an infield grounder,and one was a blooper. Not a total disaster.

I know I promised a haiku, but I decided to go with a limerick instead. Here goes, inspired by Sexson, who struck out feebly in the first, then bombed a homer to center:

There once was a first baseman named Sexson,

The guy many wish played is now a Texan.

It's the last year of Rich's deal

So he might hit with renewed zeal.

But if not, you all will get your pecks in.

OK, pretty lame. Feel free to come up with your own.

(Just about to push the send button when Mike Morse blasted a double off the wall in center. Man, he's really stroking this spring).


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March 17, 2008 9:50 AM

Tightening up

Posted by Larry Stone


Hi, everyone. Larry Stone pinch-blogging today. The skipper, Geoff Baker, decided it was time to use the left-handed bat off the bench.

Like Archie Bell and the Drells (a musical reference that betrays my advanced years), John McLaren says it's time for the team to tighten up. It's two weeks to Opening Day, 10 days until they break camp in Arizona. After Tuesday's off day, he said, he will start playing the regulars almost exclusively, and work to settle on the ultimate batting order. He still is unclear, mainly, on who will bat second (Jose Vidro or Yuniesky Betancourt, presumably; I'll bet Vidro), and who will hit fourth, fifth and sixth. The candidates are Adrian Beltre, Richie Sexson and Brad Wilkerson (with Raul Ibanez at No. 3). The only question is what order. I'm thinking that they'll end up Beltre, Wilkerson and Sexson, which gives them a left-right-left-right setup in the middle.

I'll go out on a limb and predict that the leadoff hitter is going to be Ichiro.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 16, 2008 4:29 PM

M's lose ugly

Posted by Geoff Baker

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The Mariners trudge off the field after an unusually long, 8-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Not much of a game from a Seattle fan's standpoint. Felix Hernandez gets mugged, the base running was terrible and the team president pulls a Steve Bartman on M's catcher Jamie Burke. Chuck Armstrong was OK, by the way, having the towering pop-up by Ozzie Chavez bounce off the palm of his hand.

Burke made contact with Armstrong, the latter saying that's what caused him to drop the ball. It's hilarious when the games don't count. And they don't, so let's not go too crazy on this.

By the way, if you look closely at the front row in the photo below, the guy with the blue cap and gray hair (in the blue jacket, not the beige one) is Armstrong. No, I don't have much to talk about today, you've got me.

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Continue reading this post ...


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March 16, 2008 12:18 PM

Brewers at Mariners: game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Just getting underway here on a 59-degree day. The expected thunderstorms have held off for now. I've put our "Sights and Sounds" feature below for you to peruse during the game.

One of the bigger lessons being given at this morning's workouts was on how not to get picked off base by a left handed pitcher. Yuniesky Betancourt -- not to mention Ichiro -- has been having quite the misadventures on the basepaths of late. The deception that a lefty pitcher brings can be far more difficult to pick up on thatn a righty. So, the M's had groups of left handed pitchers come over to a back field to work with some of the team's would-be basestealers.

You'll hear guest coach Rich Amaral address the group, then manager John McLaren say he used to look for "body language'' of runners as a bench coach more than anything else.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 16, 2008 9:21 AM

Lackey fallout

Posted by Geoff Baker

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A look at the Mariners this morning, working with baserunners on how to avoid getting picked off by a lefthanded pitcher. Yuniesky Betancourt got nabbed the other day. Even Ichiro was picked off first base a couple of days ago. Guest coach Rich Amaral had the team's would-be base-stealers out on a back field for some tips on how not to get caught leaning. In this particular photo, Ryan Feierabend catches the lot of them off-guard. Feierabend has perhaps the best pickoff move in the organization. Much better read on him by the runners down below.

steal 017.jpg

Some reactions in Anaheim to the news that Angels starter John Lackey is likely out until mid-May, joining No. 2 starter Kelvim Escobar on the DL.

"I don't feel good at all. Lackey, he's our ace,'' said Escobar, who started a throwing program Saturday morning. "When you lose two guys like that it definitely hurts your team. I just hope it doesn't hurt too much.''

Angels pitcher Joe Saunders, in this morning's editions of the Los Angeles Times, states:

"It's going to be a huge blow. It's definitely not good. John is our horse, the leader of the pitching staff and a leader of the team. Our Nos. 1 and 2 starters are not doing so hot right now. We're going to have to step up our game.''

Continue reading this post ...


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March 15, 2008 2:49 PM

Mariners at Giants: Game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Getting ready for today's 3 p.m. start at Scottsdale Stadium. A little later than usual. Traffic was a nightmare. They've merged four lanes into one on the nearby highway. Oh well. Sun in still shining. Check out the right side of Seattle's infield and outfield.

Mariners at Giants

Mariners (7-8-1):

5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
3 Jose Vidro 1B
28 Raul Ibanez LF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
10 Greg Norton RF
2 Kenji Johjima C
50 Wladimir Balentien CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
45 Erik Bedard LHP

Other Pitchers:
18 Ryan Rowland-Smith LHP
54 Sean Green RHP
59 Eric O'Flaherty LHP
74 Philip Barzilla LHP

San Francisco Giants (5-11-2):

28 Rajai Davis LF
5 Ray Durham 2B
2 Randy Winn RF
1 Bengie Molina C
33 Aaron Rowand CF
35 Rich Aurilia 3B
40 Dan Ortmeier 1B
29 Brian Bocock SS
75 Barry Zito LHP

Other Pitchers:

41 Brad Hennessey RHP
52 Bartolome Fortunato RHP
64 Merkin Valdez RHP
34 Steve Kline LHP

Continue reading this post ...


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March 15, 2008 11:15 AM

Huge news out of Angels camp

Posted by Geoff Baker

Never mind the fact that Brandon Morrow has been shut down a few days to rest a tired arm (he'll play catch tomorrow and take it from there). Some major developments are happening on the AL West pitching front and coming out of Angels camp. Angels ace John Lackey is now going to be out until the month of May. Yes, that means the Angels won't have their two top starters, Lackey and Kelvim Escobar, for at least the first month of the season.

I keep hearing that Escobar might be out until June. He isn't even throwing in his team's camp right now. Working out on his own. For all of the hand-wringing about the M's offense -- and the concerns are legitimate -- Seattle now has a definitive advantage on the starting pitching front. Not so much in the bullpen, and to be honest, I'm starting to get a little nervous about the M's relief situation.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 14, 2008 4:42 PM

Sights and Sounds: Game day

Posted by Geoff Baker

Today's video is sort of self-explanatory. All pre-game footage shot in the concourse area, the stands, the player walkway and the field here at Peoria Stadium.

Down below was the scene not too long ago, with some of the spring high crowd of 11,454 at Peoria Stadium filing out to the parking lot followng a 9-4 victory by Seattle over the Colorado Rockies.

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Continue reading this post ...


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March 14, 2008 1:04 PM

Rockies at Mariners: Game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

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It's 79 degrees and sunny out. Hear it's raining in Seattle. Sorry...no, not really.


Rockies vs. Mariners

Colorado Rockies (7-7-1):

29 Scott Podsednik DH
2 Troy Tulowitzki SS
27 Garrett Atkins 3B
10 Jeff Baker RF
25 Seth Smith LF
22 Marcus Giles 2B
47 Joe Koshansky 1B
18 Cory Sullivan CF
20 Chris Iannetta C
----------------------------
56 Franklin Morales LHP

Other Pitchers:
34 Matt Herges RHP
44 Micah Bowie LHP
52 Juan Morillo RHP
61 Ramon Ramirez RHP

Seattle Mariners (6-8-1):

51 Ichiro Suzuki CF
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
28 Raul Ibanez LF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
6 Brad Wilkerson RF
44 Richie Sexson 1B
10 Greg Norton DH
2 Kenji Johjima C
4 Jose Lopez 2B
----------------------------
43 Miguel Batista RHP

Other Pitchers:
31 Ryan Feierabend LHP
38 Jon Huber RHP
49 Jake Woods LHP
62 Cesar Jimenez LHP


Continue reading this post ...


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March 14, 2008 10:08 AM

Reed sits and waits

Posted by Geoff Baker

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One of you asked me yesterday whether Jeremy Reed (pictured above, leaving the field in the ninth inning yesterday after being caught stealing) had been hurt throughout the spring. This might explain why he's only been used sparingly compared to others like Mike Morse, Wladimir Balentien and Charlton Jimerson. The answer is no.

Why then, does Reed appear to be an afterthought at camp? Good question. Mariners manager John McLaren and GM Bill Bavasi apparently tried to answer some of that for him this morning in a closed door meeting. The meeting pushed McLaren's meeting with the media back by about 15 or 20 minutes. So, it was pretty important. There was some speculation Reed was about to get cut. Turns out, it was more to tell the player what's going on and where he fits in the grand scheme of things.

"Sometimes you see some guys dragging,'' McLaren said afterwards. "We're just being honest with everybody.''

My guess? He's going to get cut. Not now, but at some point in the next two weeks.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 13, 2008 4:24 PM

More on Ichiro, Washburn

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Mariners manager John McLaren was down on the field answering questions a few moments ago, his team having played to a 3-3 tie with the San Francisco Giants.

"Jarrod started off a little slow,'' he said of starting pitcher Jarrod Washburn, who allowed two runs -- only one earned -- over five innings. "But he got his rhythm, got his tempo, really threw the ball stronger every inning he was out there.''

On Mike Morse, who went 3-for-3 and upped his spring average to .581: "He's hitting the ball well. He's got a nice stroke going and has done a good job.''

McLaren playfully suggested he'd sleep better now that Ichiro finally has his first hit of spring training. Told about Ichiro's quip about sending the baseball to Cooperstown, McLaren deadpanned:

"They'll take it, believe me.''

Hear some McLaren audio right here.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 13, 2008 1:07 PM

Giants at Mariners: Game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

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San Francisco Giants (4-11):

28 Rajai Davis CF
57 Eugenio Velez 2B
2 Randy Winn RF
5 Ray Durham DH
14 Fred Lewis LF
19 Kevin Frandsen 3B
21 Justin Leone 1B
50 Eliezer Alfonzo C
22 Ivan Ochoa SS
----------------------------
32 Kevin Correia RHP

Other Pitchers:

22 Alex Hinshaw LHP
34 Steve Kline LHP
37 Jack Taschner LHP
43 Billy Sadler RHP
54 Victor Santos RHP
64 Merkin Valdez RHP
80 Sergio Romo RHP


Seattle Mariners (6-8):

51 Ichiro Suzuki CF
3 Jose Vidro 1B
28 Raul Ibañez LF
44 Richie Sexson DH
6 Brad Wilkerson RF
9 Jeff Clement C
13 Miguel Cairo SS
23 Tug Hulett 2B
12 Mike Morse 3B
----------------------------
56 Jarrod Washburn LHP

Other Pitchers:

20 J.J. Putz RHP
41 R.A. Dickey RHP
46 Sean White RHP
48 Roy Corcoran RHP
58 Cha Seung Baek RHP
62 Cesar Jimenez LHP

Continue reading this post ...


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March 13, 2008 12:09 PM

Sights and Sounds: Buckets and pops

Posted by Geoff Baker

Some great drills for you to catch a glimpse of today. The first one involves cutoff men taking outfield relays, spinning and firing home where they attempt to knock over some buckets positioned where the plate is. Not as easy as it sounds. The groups are competing against each other.

The second drill involves catching pop-ups from a machine. But this time, the outfielders are trying to catch three pops one after the other with little time to recover. Ichiro goes first and makes it look easy. But then Jeremy Reed shows that it's a little tougher than that. Raul Ibanez can only haul in a pair. Wladimir Balentien has a bit of a tough time. Reed then lies flat on his stomach and only gets up after the ball is put in the air. Interesting stuff. Hope you enjoy.

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March 13, 2008 9:01 AM

Roster cuts

Posted by Geoff Baker

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The Mariners are running through their fielding drills at the moment, minus some players after a handful of roster cuts were announced this morning. None of them of much import or surprise. The biggest name on the list is No. 1 draft pick Phillippe Aumont, who will have to play in a professional game at some point before he's going to make the majors. He'll go to minor league camp until the team figures out where to start him off. That ends Seattle's streak of promoting No. 1 picks straight to the majors at one year.

Flip to the next page for the others on the list.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 12, 2008 6:43 PM

Honoring Latinos in beisbol

Posted by Jose Romero

Mariners pitcher Miguel Batista will serve as the honorary chairperson for the Third Annual Latino Beisbol Award Festival presented by Latino Future Magazine at the Phoenix Art Museum tomorrow night. The event celebrates Latino heritage in major league baseball.

Guests of honor include Hall-of-Famer Orlando Cepeda; Vera Clemente, widow of Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente; Colorado Rockies P Ubaldo Jimenez; Texas Rangers P Vicente Padilla; Chicago Cubs IF Alex Cintron; and Linda Alvarado, co-owner of the Rockies. Other players are expected to attend.

Chicago White Sox legend Orestes "Minnie" Minoso will received the Latino Legends Award.

More details and a recap of the event can be found at the magazine's Web site.


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March 12, 2008 6:30 PM

"Everyday Eddie" update

Posted by Jose Romero

UPDATE 11:29 p.m.: Turns out rumors of Guardado's demise might be premature. Strained knee ligaments and is expected back on the mound early next week. We'll have all the details if it turns out otherwise (Baker).

OK I know I said I was done in spring training but I guess I couldn't get enough. Got a couple of things to share, and here's the first.

You all might remember LHP Eddie Guardado, who spent the 2004 and 2005 seasons plus part of the 2006 season with the Mariners before being traded. I really enjoyed talking to him when he was in Seattle, and I know I'm not alone as far as reporters. Just a good guy who was a great clubhouse leader known for being a practical joker. He was always known for that post-save fist pump and I know the fans really got into him because he wears his emotions on his sleeve proudly.

Anyway, I went to a spring training game at Surprise, Ariz., between the Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs and had great seats behind home plate. Guardado, now with the Rangers after signing a minor-league deal in January, came on to pitch in the bottom of the fifth with the Rangers up 3-2. He gave up the lead on a two-run HR by Alfonso Soriano, but rallied to get two outs. Then he hurt himself, wincing as he delivered a pitch. Guardado couldn't finish the inning and walked off the field gingerly favoring his left side.

That was tough to see. But here's hoping Eddie is OK and is able to try and continue a long and very good career.

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March 12, 2008 4:01 PM

Sights and Sounds: Ichiro

Posted by Geoff Baker

I know some of you can't get enough of this Ichiro "slump" thing, so I've decided to play along. Here's some video of Ichiro from today, going about his routine. Didn't ask him about it, so I'll just assume what's going on and put it into a story. The way I see it is this:

Ichiro, desperate to snap an 0-for-21 spring slump, decides that maybe he'll try bunting for a hit the next time up. So, he gets a little work in. Nothing great happening.

Former manager Mike Hargrove, in camp to do some consulting on a handful of hitters for GM Bill Bavasi, looks on with interest. Later, Ichiro tells anyone who will understand his Japanese (like the trainer wearing the shoulder bag) that his bat simply refuses to hit the ball.

Hargrove walks over to Lee Elia, a consultant for manager John McLaren, behind the batting cage. "See that guy over there?'' Hargrove says, pointing at Ichiro as he warms up. "I've been studying him with my consultant's eye and I'll bet you he doesn't get a single hit, even in batting practice!''

"You're on, but it's double or nothing,'' Elia says. "My consultant's eye says he gets a hit!''

"Put her there!'' Hargrove says as they exchange high-fives and some laughs.

"Hate to take your money, old boy,'' Elia replies with a back slap.

Ichiro has some plans of his own, which involves a private chat with the day's batting practice pitcher. Maybe telling him to lob a few balls right down the middle?

For a moment, Hargrove's wager looks solid as Ichiro fouls a pair into the netting. But later, his singles stroke is back. Crisis averted for yet another day. That's surely how things went. Or maybe not...perhaps this is all being taken way too seriously. But hey, you wanted updates.

Later, we see Ichiro doing some long-toss with Raul Ibanez. The interesting part of the footage is where coach Eddie Rodriguez is offering some throwing tips to Ibanez, especially the form he should use on his follow through after the throw. Ibanez and Ichiro later jog off the field.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 12, 2008 1:05 PM

Brewers at Mariners: Game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Milwaukee Brewers (9-5):

30 Craig Counsell 2B
22 Tony Gwynn CF
7 J.J. Hardy SS
28 Prince Fielder 1B
14 Gabe Gross LF
27 Joe Dillon DH
20 Laynce Nix RF
21 Abraham Nunez 3B
18 Jason Kendall C

---------------------------
12 Carlos Villanueva RHP

Other pitchers:
39 Chris Capuano LHP
57 Mitch Stetter LHP


Seattle Mariners (5-8):

5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
3 Jose Vidro DH
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
44 Richie Sexson 1B
50 Wladimir Belantien CF
2 Kenji Johjima C
4 Jose Lopez 2B
12 Mike Morse RF
25 Charlton Jimerson LF
----------------------------
52 Carlos Silva RHP

Other Pitchers:

33 Chris Reitsma RHP
38 Jon Huber RHP
49 Jake Woods LHP
53 Arthur Rhodes LHP
54 Sean Green RHP
57 Mark Lowe RHP
59 Eric O'Flaherty LHP

Continue reading this post ...


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March 12, 2008 12:00 PM

Ramirez released

Posted by Geoff Baker

There you go. Doesn't quite rate as a surprise. As many of you have noted, there was just no room on this year's squad for Horacio Ramirez. By releasing him today, the M's only have to pay him a sixth of his $2.75-million salary for the coming season.

I caught up with Ramirez moments ago as he was packing his locker. He'd just gotten the news and wasn't in much of a mood to talk. Was polite, as always, but having a lousy day. He has no leads on any other camp openings.

"No, nothing yet,'' he said.

If his agent is any good, he's been quietly scouting around because this release was a foregone conclusion for anyone paying attention.

"We did not believe Horacio was going to break camp with us,'' Mariners GM Bill Bavasi said in a release. "We felt it would be in everyone's best interest to give him time to catch on with another club.''

Thus ends one of the bleaker trade sagas in Seattle history. Yes, the M's gave up premier reliever Rafael Soriano, essentially for nothing. His final numbers: 8-7 with a 7.16 ERA last season. Yes, this does leave an opening on the roster for a non-roster guy to be added.

Here's something to brighten your day after that heavy note...

bigisland08 064.jpg

Yes, that's former manager Mike Hargrove in yellow, offering moral support to one Ichiro as he battles his way out of his "hitting slump". Hargrove is here acting as a consultant to Bavasi on a number of Seattle hitters. "Just hit the ball, Ich!'' would be my guess on dialogue. Yes, I'm trying to be funny.

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March 12, 2008 9:13 AM

Bonds ain't coming

Posted by Geoff Baker

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What are these outfielders doing with coach Eddie Rodriguez? Laughing at all those rumors that Barry Bonds is about to join them in Seattle.

One more time, for posterity. Bonds isn't coming to the M's. One of you wrote in, saying this post on the Fox Sports website was actually a rumor that the M's were about to land Bonds. Truth is, an item like that doesn't even merit rumor status. It's a guy in Rochester speculating that Bonds could help the M's. Well, yeah, he could. Could also kill their playoff hopes if he brings his circus to town. I'll stick to that paper for my Orangemen news and little else.

There's no shortage of blogs and websites speculating that Bonds would be a fit for the Mariners. Here's one from last week by Dugout Daily, listing Seattle as one of only three teams that might consider him worth the headache.

Continue reading this post ...


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March 11, 2008 10:08 PM

Great to be back

Posted by Geoff Baker

Mucho thanks to Jose Romero for filling in the past 12 days while I was in Hawaii. This isn't the easiest gig for someone walking in fresh and I think he did a fantastic job. Got to say, I missed doing this every day. But that's all about to change.

Many of you have written in for my take on some issues, most notably, Ichiro and Erik Bedard.

The Ichiro thing is easy. Don't want to know. Don't care that he's 0-for-21 in games that matter about as much as those Laval Little League contests I once participated in back in Quebec in the 1970s.

Casual fans might be concerned by this mini spring slump and that's OK. But I know you click in here for something more than the casual fan take. And the last I checked, Ichiro hit .351 and won an AL Silver Slugger Award in games that mattered last season. In the last seven years of games that mattered, he's amassed 1,592 hits. That's the most ever done over any seven-year span. No, Ichiro hasn't forgotten how to hit overnight. This slump means absolutely nothing. Zip. Nada. Talk to me if he starts the real season 0-for-30 or something.

Until then, just remember, spring training means almost nothing. It's a glorified marketing exercise designed mostly to loosen up the arms of pitchers. If the hitters were warming up in batting cages, you wouldn't care. The hitters don't care, trust me. Most of them don't start thinking about caring until the final two weeks or 10 days of the spring. So please, don't give it another thought. As Bedard might say: "Next question."

OK, speaking about Bedard...

Continue reading this post ...


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March 11, 2008 3:56 PM

Hello and hola from Hi Corbett

Posted by Jose Romero

END GAME: Rockies 4, Mariners 1.

Notes:
-Mariners fall to 5-8 in Cactus League and have lost five of their past six games.
-Willie Bloomquist left the game with a quadriceps injury that doesn't appear to be serious.
-The Mariners had only four hits. Brad Wilkerson had two of them and is batting .412 in spring training.
-McLaren said he doesn't care for pitchers hitting at all. "It's such a disadvantage for American League clubs, during the season, spring training, anything," he said. I don't like our pitchers hitting at all. They're not used to it, they don't do it in the minor leagues much. I don't care for it."
-McLaren said he'll start playing regular starters in back-to-back games leading up to regular season.
-As for Ichiro, McLaren said his stroke is there. He's just "that much" off. "Put him down for the batting title," McLaren said.

Top 9

Ichiro has just grounded out sharply to third. He's 0-for-4 today and 0-for-21 this spring.

Bottom 8:

J.J. Putz just served up a two-run HR and the Rockies lead 4-1. He's allowed four earned runs in three innings of work, three games. ERA is 12.00.

Hernandez said his two-seam fastball was especially effective today, and that he's ready to start the season now.

Top 8:

Charlton Jimerson has come on to pinch-run for Brad Wilkerson after the Rockies took a 2-1 lead. I was downstairs hearing from Hernandez. Jimerson stole second; leads the team in steals with three, and now four as he swipes third.

AK: Ichiro is hitting to both fields equally overall but has gone to the opposite field twice today.

Bottom 6th

Great play by Beltre to take a bunt hit away from Taveras. Ryan Rowland-Smith is in for Hernandez, who went 5 innings, no runs , three hits, 3 Ks.

Top 6

Ichi-time: Ball, strike called, curve ball fly out to left field. He's 0-for-20.

END 5th

Hernandez just keeps mowing them down. A much better outing than Bedard yesterday, restoring hope to the faithful. Do we hear the "Who should be the No. 1 starter" questions yet? Hernandez has thrown 58 pitches in five innings. Now the M's are pinch-hitting for Hernandez with Jeff Clement.


Bottom 5

Kick save and a beauty by Felix as a comebacker bounces off his foot and kicks off to shortstop for a single.


Top 5

The Mariners, like the sun in this press box, have something cooking here. Runners at first and third with one out after Cairo popped out. Burke hits into a 6-4-3 double play even as Wilkerson breaks for second, inning over.


END 4th

Felix has a nine-pitch inning. He's thrown 48 in all.


The P.A. announcer here at the park just asked how many are here from Colorado. A loud cheer.
From Seattle? A slightly less noisier cheer. And from Tucson? A smattering.

END 3rd

Three up, three down, nice play by Bloomquist to end the inning. 1-0 M's still. Hernandez: 39 total pitches,
He threw six for strikes, 12 total in the inning.


Top 3

Here's Ichiro for the second time. ball taken, strike, ball low, fly ball out to left. Make it 0-for-19.


END 2nd

Hernandez: 14 pitches, 9 strikes. He is throwing some major heat out there today. 27 total pitches for the game.

Top 2nd

Richie Sexson just blasted a solo home run some 400 feet to right-center. First HR of the spring for Sexson, it came on a 1-1 pitch. He's now 5-for-19. Could it be a sign of things to come? McLaren was talking about him earlier.


End 1st

We'll do the Ichiro-watch all day. Hernandez threw 13 pitches, 9 for strikes in a three-up, three-down inning.


Top 1

Ichiro leads off, and on the second pitch of the game grounds out back to the pitcher. Make it 0-for-18. He fouled off the first pitch of the game.

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March 11, 2008 11:54 AM

Will Ichiro get his hit today?

Posted by Jose Romero

The only hitless Mariner in spring training is the team's best hitter, Ichiro. He's in the lineup today against the Colorado Rockies here at historic Hi Corbett Field in Tucson and checks in at a sizzling 0-for-17.

Manager John McLaren was asked about Richie Sexson today and reiterated his and his staff's belief that Sexson will turn it around this season.

"Last year was kinda like Murphy's Law, everything went wrong," McLaren said. "Injury, swinging at bad pitches, fans getting on him. You name it, it happened. With that said, it's behind him."

Does publicly expressing confidence in Sexson increase his own confidence?

"You'd have to ask him," McLaren said. "I hope it did. Richie plays hurt. He played with some injuries. He got hit in Kansas City good (in a game last July) He got hit in the thumb, and he wanted to play in Oakland...he's such a competitor and you appreciate that. He's still strong. He's still got youth on his side. No reason why this guy can't put up big numbers. No reason at all."

Let's go to the lineups for today, my last day covering spring training, as far as I have been told. Geoff Baker returns to the blogosphere fired up, I'm sure, and recharged, so let me say thanks for making me and this a part of your day. Thanks to everyone for the comments, kind or otherwise. One must appreciate the passion.

Con ganas y safos...
Jose

Mariners at Rockies
March 11, 2008

Seattle Mariners (5-7):

51 Ichiro Suzuki CF
16 Willie Bloomquist 2B
28 Raul Ibanez LF
44 Richie Sexson 1B
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
6 Brad Wilkerson RF
13 Miguel Cairo SS
15 Jamie Burke C
34 Felix Hernandez RHP
* No DH today

Other Pitchers:
18 Ryan Rowland-Smith LHP
20 J.J. Putz RHP
48 Roy Corcoran RHP
62 Cesar Jimenez LHP
76 Brodie Downs RHP
79 Phillippe Aumont RHP

Colorado Rockies (6-6-1)

3 Willy Taveras CF
2 Troy Tulowitzki SS
17 Todd Helton 1B
5 Matt Holliday LF
27 Garrett Atkins 3B
19 Ryan Spilborghs RF
22 Marcus Giles 2B
20 Chris Iannetta C
26 Jeff Francis LHP


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March 10, 2008 4:42 PM

74 degrees at game time

Posted by Jose Romero

GAME OVER: White Sox 9, Mariners 8
Mariners go to 5-7 in the spring.

The ninth inning was pretty exciting. The Mariners have developed a penchant for late rallies this spring and today was no exception. Charlton Jimerson singled to drive in a run, an error allowed Tuiasosopo to score, Jimerson scored on a ground out, Jeff Clement scored on a Bryan LaHair single and Mark Kiger drove in pinch runner Bronson Sardinha. The M's had the bases loaded with one out, but Morse struck out and Tuiasosopo grounded out to the end the inning in an 8-8 tie.

The White Sox won it off Sean Green, Jim Thome singled to lead off and was replaced by a pinch runner. A fly ball out moved the runner to second, and a long single to right by Swisher drove in the game winner.

"I was proud of the team, the way they kept scrapping, kept after it," McLaren said. "We've done that almost every spring training game...We had that spirit last year and that's the way we play baseball. We play hard til the final out's made. That's our trademark and we take pride in that."

Notes
-Balentien was 4-for-5 and is batting .357 in the spring. He has 10 hits now, second to Morse, who has 12.
-R.A. Dickey dropped his ERA to 1.29 after two innings of one-hit ball. He struck out two and had Jermaine Dye way off balance on a swing through the knuckle ball on one of those.
-Morrow's ERA is now 11.25
-LaHair is 8-for-19 (.421) in the spring.

Bottom 8th
UPDATE II: Huber plunks Jason Bourgeois in the back and another run is in. 8-3 Sox.

UPDATE: Morrow, whom McLaren said he envisions as a "two-inning guy," isn't even a two-out guy right now. He walked the bases loaded and has given up two runs. Now 3-0 to Juan Uribe, and there's ball four. Another run in. 7-3 Sox. Three runs are in this inning. Morrow is being lifted as McLaren makes the move, and Jon Huber is coming in.

Ryan Feierabend has left the game after 1 inning of work. It was scoreless. Brandon Morrow is in and he just gave up a triple to Paul Konerko. Dickey was solid and from what I saw, Johjima handled him well.
Now Nick Swisher just hit a ball out well over the 340 mark in right field, and the umpires called it a double. Manager Ozzie Guillen came out to complain but to no avail. The umps blew this one. That ball was over the wall and off the wall behind the 340 sign and then came back onto the field, as I saw it. Run scores, 5-3 Sox.

BEDARD UPDATE:

Wow, went downstairs to hear from Bedard and didn't miss a thing. Bedard said he'd answer five questions at the outset, and he answered 10. He characterized his performance as one bad inning and all zeros in the others.


Bottom 5

R.A. Dickey is now in the game in relief of Bedard, who allowed four runs on eight hits and walked one.
Bryan LaHair is at first base for Norton.


End 4th

That should do it for Bedard. 63 total pitches in four innings. 41 strikes, 22 balls. I'll get an official line. In the meantime, it's now top 5 and Balentien just got his third hit.

Bottom 3

Balentien couldn't get to a triple hit by Nick Swisher with 2 out. He's got a bat for sure, but the defense has been suspect in spring ball.


Top 3
UPDATE: Here come the M's. Balentien has doubled in a run, his second double of the game, and Johjima drove in a run on a fielding error. The runner, Norton, was at third and breaking for home when contact was made so Johjima got credit for an RBI. 4-3 CHI.

Bedard has nine-pitch second. No runs no hits. M's got their run on an error by the second baseman, who threw to third on a fielder's choice grounder to try and get Betancourt moving from second to third after singles by he and Vidro. The throw went wide and Betancourt scored. The batter was Norton and he wasn't credited with an RBI since the run scored on an error.


End 1

Wow...wondering how THIS post-performance interview session with Bedard is going to go. Maybe only one question, maybe none. I had Bedard for 28 pitches in the first.

Still Bottom 1

Now its Paul Konerko going deep off what looked like a Bedard fastball over the bullpen in left field. 4-1 White Sox on the HR.

...and Erik Bedard just hung a curve ball that Jim Thome sent out of the yard way up the berm, maybe 430 feet to left center. It's a three-run shot, 3-1 White Sox.

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March 10, 2008 1:05 PM

Four regulars and a Bedard

Posted by Jose Romero

That's what the Mariners have in the lineup today at Tucson Electric Park agains the Chicago White Sox.

The ChiSox. Does anyone call them that anymore? I'll get to the lineups in a bit.

Manager John McLaren was asked about the open backup roster spot before today's game, and the theme of his responses was that he and his staff are open-minded. That is to say, they're deliberating. But it now appears that McLaren is considering keeping two roster spots open for position players, which could be good news for Mike Morse, the hottest player in camp to date.

"We're very open-minded about it," McLaren said. "We've got numerous guys competing for that job, or two jobs, whatever direction we go. There's so many different scenarios, and all these guys bring a little bit of something different to the table. So the competition's been great, and we'll just see how as the spring goes on, the needs of the ball club and how everybody fits in and who fits in the best.

"Everyone of these guys has impressed us some way or another."

McLaren has had a meeting about team needs and how the roster is shaping up. He said he and the coaches broke down each candidate and what he can bring to the team. McLaren also didn't rule out GM Bill Bavasi searching the waiver wire for a player.

Two extra position players -- let's say Morse and Greg Norton, for example -- woiuld give the M's 14 position players if you factor in the nine starters, Bloomquist, Cairo, Burke, and two more. Then the Mariners would keep 11 pitchers, which is another consideration McLaren said he has.

New subject:
Larry Stone, my colleague, asked McLaren about Erik Bedard. McLaren delivered the one-liner by answering "That's one question, Larry, you've got three to go."

That said, let's go the lineups:

Seattle Mariners (5-6):
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
3 Jose Vidro DH
10 Greg Norton 1B
50 Wladimir Balentien RF
2 Kenji Johjima C
4 Jose Lopez 2B
12 Mike Morse LF
78 Matt Tuiasosopo 3B
25 Charlton Jimerson CF
-----------------------------
45 Erik Bedard LHP

Other Pitchers:
31 Ryan Feierabend LHP
35 Brandon Morrow RHP
38 Jon Huber RHP
41 R.A. Dickey RHP
54 Sean Green RHP
62 Cesar Jimenez LHP

Chicago White Sox (6-8):
68 Jason Bourgeois CF
18 Orlando Cabrera SS
25 Jim Thome DH
14 Paul Konerko 1B
30 Nick Swisher LF
23 Jermaine Dye RF
12 A.J. Pierzynski C
24 Joe Crede 3B
5 Juan Uribe 2B
-----------------------------
56 Mark Buehrle LHP

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March 9, 2008 5:34 PM

Under way from the Power Plant

Posted by Jose Romero

Game over: Mariners (SS) 10, Diamondbacks 7
In Phoenix, Mariners lost 2-0 to Milwaukee, so they are now 5-6 in the Cactus League. Here's some info from intrepid baseball writer Larry Stone, who has arrived in Arizona and was at the game in Phoenix while I was in Tucson.

His report:

The Mariners avoided the embarrassment of being no-hit by the Brewers, but scratched out just two singles, sent 28 batters -- one over the minimum -- to the plate, and never advanced a runner past first base.

The Mariners, featuring a lineup that included regulars Ichiro, Jose Vidro, Raul Ibanez, Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre, were hitless into the seventh (with Brewers starter Claudio Vargas working five spotless innings) before Vidro led off with a single to center.

But Vidro was promptly erased on a double play. Beltre led off the eighth with another single, but that, too, was followed by a double-play ball.

The Mariners' only other base runner (and the only one to be stranded) was Willie Bloomquist, who walked in the third.

Mariners bench coach Jim Riggleman managed the game against Milwaukee while John McLaren was with the split squad in Tucson. Asked if he was dreading having to call McLaren and tell him his team had been no-hit, Riggleman laughed and said, "I know. I know. It was a small condolence to get a couple of hits."

Riggleman added, "The guys were irritated they didn't get any hits, and that's a good thing. They have pride. They don't feel good about the way the results were today. That will make them work that much harder."

Note from Phoenix:
-Lefthander Jake Woods was a standout for the Mariners, working two perfect innings with four strikeouts. Ryan Rowland-Smith also pitched two scoreless innings (two hits, one strikeout), and Eric O'Flaherty pitched one scoreless inning (no hits, one strikeout).

Notes from Tucson:
-McLaren said Aumont's outing was kept a secret on purpose in a designed move to avoid a big media buildup. "Good experience for him," McLaren said of the 19-year-old. "There's a lot of things he's got to learn in this game and it just gave him a little preview of what the game is all about on a higher level. He's going to be great."
-McLaren called Ramirez "two different pitchers," and said he looked best in the third inning.
-McLaren said Morse's home run was a perfect swing and that it made him feel good. "He's on the radar screen. We know what he's doing," McLaren said.
-Jose Lopez was 2-for-5 with 3 RBI and raised his spring average to .267.
-Brad Wilkerson was 2-for-5 with 2 RBI and is batting .357.

Top 8

Brad Wilkerson doubled deep into the gap in left center and drove in Mark Kiger and Greg Norton, who had walked with two out. Wilkerson is now 5-for-14 in spring training with 3 RBI. 10-7 Mariners.


Top 7

Morse just got his third hit, a double down the LF line. Runners at second and third for Lopez. He grounds out to a drawn-shortstop, run scores, 8-7 M's. Lopez is 2-for-4 with 3 RBI, his best game of the spring.


Middle of 6th

7-7 is the score in a slugfest. I've been told that Jose Vidro broke up a no-hitter in Maryvale and the M's are down 2-0 to the Brewers in the 7th in the split-squad game.

Spoke to Ramirez in the clubhouse just now and he said he's working on his changeup in camp, and it wasn't spotted as well as in previous outings. "The worst pitch I made was the one to Burke, the double in the gap," he said. "I was trying to a double-play ball there, but it stayed up in the zone and he hit it good. Besides that inning, my other two I thought, were good."
Stottlemyre told Ramirez to be more aggressive after the second inning.


Top 5
UPDATE: Tui time...RBI single for the Woodinville native who's great to talk to, by the way. 7-6 Seattle.
Matt Tuiasosopo is 3-for-10 in the spring with 3 RBI.

Must be a good group of Mariners fans here, because they just cheered a Jose Lopez double that drove in Brad Wilkerson and Mike Morse. It's tied at 6. Five RBI for Lopez this spring.


MINOR-LEAGUE CAMP NOTE:

Minor-league camp had its first full workout Saturday. There are 133 players from the upper levels of the system are in camp. Rookie level players will report in a couple of weeks. The group (not counting non-roster players in major-league camp) includes 44 right-handed pitchers, 20 LHPs, 17 catchers, 28 infielders and 24 outfielders.
Minor league games begin March 14.


Bottom 4th
UPDATE II: Two-run single up the middle for the O-Dog, Orlando Hudson, and it's 6-4 D-backs.
UPDATE: Exit Aumont, who struggled. The bases are loaded with a run in after Aumont gave up two hits, a walk and hit a batter. He faced five hitters and got one out. Sean White is in to pitch. 4-4 game.

Phillippe Aumont, the M's first-round pick in 2007, is in to pitch. First major-league game action of the spring.

Top 4th
UPDATE: Jeremy Reed delivers a two-out, two run single to give the Mariners a 4-3 lead. Reed has two hits on the day.

Morse with another hit, he's 11-for-20 in the spring. Has two today.

End 2nd

50 pitches for Ramirez, 36 in the second. He got a lecture from pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre in the dugout.

Bottom 2nd

Ramirez looked OK in the first inning, but has struggled with his control some in the second. Back-to-back walks and a single loaded the bases, and Chris Burke ripped a bases-clearing double. 3-2 D-backs.


Top 2nd

Interesting how McLaren spoke of roster cuts earlier. One guy he won't cut soon, if ever in spring training, is Mike Morse. The big utility player just homered to the opposite field (right) and gave the M's a 2-0 lead after Kenji Johjima's double. Brandon Webb, Arizona's two-time All-Star and 2006 Cy Young Award winner.


Bot 1st

Here's Horacio Ramirez making his first spring training start. Big crowd on hand here. Greg Norton doubled in the top of the inning. He's hitting left-handed and took the ball to left.

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March 9, 2008 12:58 PM

Top Gun

Posted by Jose Romero

I couldn't help but think of that movie as these jet fighters roared above Tucson Electric Park during the Mariners' pregame warmups. One jet zipped low above the stadium and cause infield practice to be interrupted, as everyone stopped and stared skyward.

Maverick and Goose and Iceman and Slider were up there trying to shoot down some bogeys or something.
I believe there is an Air Force installation nearby, actually. And yes, I know that Top Gun is based on Navy planes.

Greetings to all from Tucson, where the Mariners are taking on the defending NL West champion Arizona Diamondbacks at their spring training home. I'm now on the same clock time as everyone in Seattle and the Northwest, as Arizona doesn't change its clocks all year.

Mariners manager John McLaren is here along with most of the team's coaching staff. Only bench coach Jim Riggleman and hitting coach Jeff Pentland are not -- Riggleman is managing the split-squad game in Maryvale and Pentland stayed behind for some dental work.

McLaren said some roster decisions are forthcoming, perhaps by the end of the three-day Tucson trip, but didn't tip his hand.

Here's the lineups for today:

Mariners (ss) at Diamondbacks

Seattle Mariners (4-5):
8 Jeremy Reed CF
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
10 Greg Norton 1B
6 Brad Wilkerson RF
2 Kenji Johjima C
12 Mike Morse LF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
78 Matt Tuiasosopo 3B
26 Horacio Ramirez LHP

Other Pitchers:
46 Sean White RHP
58 Cha Seung Baek RHP
60 Joe Woerman RHP
68 Stephen Kahn RHP
74 Philip Barzilla LHP
79 Phillippe Aumont RHP

Arizona Diamondbacks (5-6):
22 Eric Byrnes LF
1 Orlando Hudson 2B
34 Conor Jackson 1B
24 Chris Young CF
19 Chris Snyder C
10 Justin Upton RF
2 Chris Burke SS
11 Augie Ojeda 3B
17 Brandon Webb RHP

And here's the lineups for the Maryvale split-squad game:

Mariners (ss) at Brewers

Seattle Mariners (4-5):
51 Ichiro Suzuki CF
3 Jose Vidro DH
28 Raul Ibanez LF
44 Richie Sexson 1B
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
50 Wladimir Balentien RF
13 Miguel Cairo 2B
15 Jamie Burke C
16 Willie Bloomquist SS
-----------------------------
43 Miguel Batista RHP

Other Pitchers:
18 Ryan Rowland-Smith LHP
48 Roy Corcoran RHP
49 Jake Woods LHP
59 Eric O'Flaherty LHP
66 Robert Rohrbaugh LHP
76 Brodie Downs RHP

Milwaukee Brewers (6-4):
23 Rickie Weeks 2B
25 Mike Cameron CF
7 J.J. Hardy SS
8 Ryan Braun LF
27 Joe Dillon 3B
33 Gabe Kapler RF
65 Brad Nelson 1B
20 Laynce Nix DH
11 Mike Rivera C
-----------------------------
46 Claudio Vargas RHP

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March 8, 2008 3:05 PM

A Saturday in Peoria in early March

Posted by Jose Romero

END GAME -- Oakland 5, Seattle 2

-What's with these ninth-inning rallies? The Mariners had three over the past week but came up short in all of them. They scored twice in the ninth today.
-Ichiro is officially mired in an 0-for-14 slump. The worst slump he has ever been in, according to a respected member of the Japanese media contingent here in Peoria, is 0-for-24 from July 30 to Aug. 5
-Matt Tuiasosopo delivered a pinch-double for his second hit of spring training. He's now 2-for-7.
- Wladimir Balentien definitely has some pop. He hit one to the wall in the second inning that was caught, and ripped a long double to center in the ninth.
-Cesar Jimenez was knocked around for three runs on three hits and walked two in an inning of work. He's competing with Arthur Rhodes, Eric O'Flaherty, Ryan Rowland-Smith and perhaps others for the bullpen role of lefthanded setup man.
-Chris Reitsma and Mark Lowe were encouraged by their efforts in relief. Each is coming back from arm problems and threw one scoreless inning.

Top 8

I missed the the three runs the A's scored to get some clubhouse interviews for stories. I'll have a recap at game's end. Mike Morse is now at SS. He told me this morning that SS is his favorite spot, and that he has played everything except pitcher and catcher as a pro baseball player.


Top 6

Line on Mark Lowe: 1 inning, 1 hit, 1 walk, no runs.

Top 5

Washburn is out, Mark Lowe is in. This is Lowe's first real game action since Aug. 3, when he struck out two Red Sox. He is trying to come back from an elbow condition that kept him from pitching.
Washburn went four innings, allowed two earned runs on five hits, struck out four and walked one.


Top 4

UPDATE: Washburn is in trouble, but has battled back with two strikeouts with runners on second and third. He just got Gregorio Petit to ground out, inning over, still 2-0 A's.

Wonder if Beltre is trying to protect that thumb. He let what looked like a routine ground ball eat him up for an error.

Top 2

Jarrod Washburn has had some bad luck. A single by Casey Rogowski actually glanced off 1B Bryan LaHair's glove and rolled up the line. That scored a run, and a soft blooper by Brooks Conrad drove in a second run. So it's 2-0 Oakland.


End 1st

Ichiro swung at the first pitch and grounded out to second base. He's done the exact same thing twice now in the past three games he has played and remains hitless in spring training. Now watch, he'll get four hits on Opening Day.

Decent crowd at the yard today, 66 degrees and sunny. Cold and Seattle-ish cloudy this morning though.

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March 8, 2008 12:03 PM

M's sign Stark

Posted by Jose Romero

The Mariners announced that they have signed RHP Denny Stark to a minor-league contract. Stark, 33, was originally drafted by the Mariners in the fourth round of the 1996 amateur draft and made his major-league debut on Sept. 15, 1999.

Seattle traded Stark to the Colorado Rockies in 2001 along with Brian Fuentes and Jose Paniagua for INF Jeff Cirillo. He won 11 games for the Rockies in 2002.

Stark hasn't pitched since 2005, when he spent the season in the Cleveland and Colorado minor-league systems. He's coming back from two Tommy John surgeries.

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March 8, 2008 9:43 AM

Happy Saturday

Posted by Jose Romero

I wanted to say first that I'm excited because I got two tickets to Opening Day on April 7 at PNC Park, Cubs at Pirates. Afternoon game, Opening Day, all the pomp and pageantry...etc. I'm not a Pirates fan but I enjoy baseball and have six more major-league stadiums at which to see a game. I've been to all the others.

This will give me the chance to break out my Roberto Clemente T-shirt. The Pirates are one of my earliest baseball memories with the "We Are Family" team from 1979, with Stargell, Parker, Moreno, Don Robinson, Tekulve, Madlock, Garner and Rick Rhoden.

Attention Bubba Crosby fans: Crosby reported to minor-league camp but failed his physical, so his contract was voided and he's been released. You heard it hear from BubbaFan first!!! Nice going.

Adrian Beltre is back in the lineup after missing day with a sore lower thumb. So is Jose Vidro, who's been out since March 3 with a tender right elbow.

After today's game, manager John McLaren and a lot of players are off to Tucson to play in games there. Not all the regulars will go right away, however. It appears the team will bus down players for Monday's game, when Erik Bedard is scheduled to pitch against the Chicago White Sox, and some will come back that very same night.

Seattle's first split-squad games are tomorrow, with Miguel Batista coming off lower back stiffness from his last outing to pitch against Milwaukee at Maryvale, while Horacio Ramirez will start in Tucson against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Both are 1:05 p.m. games, with the Tucson game on the radio.

Here's the scheduled lineups for the split-squad games tomorrow:

at MIL
Ichiro
Jose Vidro
Raul Ibanez
Richie Sexson
Adrian Beltre
Wladimir Balentien
Miguel Cairo
Jamie Burke
Willie Bloomquist

at AZ
Jeremy Reed
Yuniesky Betancourt
Greg Norton
Brad Wilkerson
Kenji Johjima
Mike Morse
Jose Lopez
Matt Tuiasosopo

And now, the starting lineups for today's game in Peoria against the Oakland A's:

Oakland A's (6-3):
19 Chris Denorfia CF
28 Carlos Gonzalez RF
4 Emil Brown LF
5 Mike Sweeney DH
18 Rob Bowen C
12 Donnie Murphy 3B
66 Casey Rogowski 1B
62 Brooks Conrad 2B
2 Gregorio Petit SS
-----------------------------
58 Justin Duchscherer RHP

Others Pitchers:
71 James Simmons RHP
44 Santiago Casilla RHP
59 Andrew Brown RHP
13 Jerry Blevins LHP

Seattle Mariners (4-4):
51 Ichiro Suzuki CF
13 Miguel Cairo SS
3 Jose Vidro DH
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
6 Brad Wilkerson RF
50 Wladimir Balentien LF
39 Bryan LaHair 1B
15 Jamie Burke C
16 Willie Bloomquist 2B
-----------------------------
56 Jarrod Washburn LHP

Other Pitchers:
33 Chris Reitsma RHP
35 Brandon Morrow RHP
38 Jon Huber RHP
57 Mark Lowe RHP


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March 7, 2008 3:01 PM

Live from Hohokam

Posted by Jose Romero

Game over: Chicago Cubs 6, Mariners 4

Another late rally for the M's falls short when Bronson Sardinha strikes out looking with two runners on base. M's go to 4-4 in Cactus League.
Notes
-Betancourt is now batting .400 in the spring (6-for-15).
-Jeremy Reed is 4-for-7 (.571) in the spring after getting a hit today.
-McLaren said Silva had a hard time gripping the ball, though he added it was not an excuse for his performance. The ball was slick from the way the balls are rubbed up combining with the dry weather.
-Wilkerson was thrown out at third base in the 7th trying to stretch a double into a triple, and McLaren said it was a bad baserunning mistake. "There's no excuse for that. He knows he made a mistake and we have to get that out of our system in spring training. We can't have that."
-More good relief pitching for Seattle as three pitchers (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Dickey, Sean Green) held the Cubs scoreless on only two hits over 4 2/3 innings.

Bottom 8
Nice outing for R.A. Dickey. Three innings of scoreless ball, two K's. He was pretty stoked about his effort and took pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre's advice to not rush his delivery of the knuckleball to heart and it helped. Nice peg by Jeff Clement to throw out a runner trying to steal second.

Mariners have cut it to 6-4. Morse got another hit, there was an error, a hit batsman, Yuniesky Betancourt's third RBI of the game and a sacrifice fly. Yes, Ichiro was hitless today, now 0-for-10 officially.


OK, to answer a couple of questions -- nothing official on Bubba Crosby but the minor league position players reported for their spring camp today and Crosby should have been among them. As for a minor-league game schedule, I hope to get that tomorrow but I've been told games don't start for at least another week.

Bottom 7

Johjima, from what I'm seeing, is doing fine with the knuckler of Dickey. Just heard from Carlos Silva and he said he overthrew in the bullpen before the game and missed with his location. He asked if he could go back into the game for the fourth inning to try and find his rhythm and was allowed to do so, it just didn't happen.

UPDATE: McLaren just came out to remove Silva after Daryle Ward's 2-run HR to right.
Silva: 3 1/3 inn., 7 hits, 6 earned runs, 2 BB, 18 batters faced. Yikes. But it's only spring training.

AK: Sexson hit the ball hard against the Angels but has struck out and grounded out softly to third today. He got a few boos when announced for his first at-bats.

Top 4th

Silva is getting hit. All three Cubs singles have been hit hard. It's 4-2 Cubs after a run-scoring ground ball. Silva should ve coming out after this inning. He's allowed six hits, walked two.

END 3rd

The highlights from this game have been Yuniesky Betancourt's home run to left field that he roped around the foul pole. Betancourt showed some patience, hitting a 3-1 pitch as the Mariners continue to give him a look in the No. 2 spot in the batting order.

Mariners starter Carlos Silva ran into some trouble in the first inning after being staked to the 2-0 lead. A single, a walk and a tough break when RF Brad Wilkerson fell down on a Derrek Lee hit made it 2-1.
But Silva did induce a double play, so now we're tied at 2.

Wilkerson showed a nice arm on his throw from right to third base to try and nab the Cubs' Kosuke Fukudome in the third after a fly ball out. It one hopped Mike Morse and Fukudome went in standing up, which made it a closer play than it should have been.


Sorry for the delay on getting this started. I had some computer problems which hopefully I have addressed.

67 degrees at game time.

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March 7, 2008 9:40 AM

Today's game at HoHoKam Park

Posted by Jose Romero

Holy Cow!!! It's the Cubs again on the road. The M's are trotting out the lumber again as all regulars will start except the injured Adrian Beltre (3B). Here are the lineups:

Seattle Mariners (4-3):
51 Ichiro Suzuki CF
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
28 Raul Ibanez LF
44 Richie Sexson 1B
6 Brad Wilkerson RF
2 Kenji Johjima C
4 Jose Lopez 2B
12 Mike Morse 3B
52 Carlos Silva RHP

Other Pitchers:
18 Ryan Rowland-Smith LHP
41 R.A. Dickey RHP
54 Sean Green RHP
59 Eric O'Flaherty LHP
66 Robert Rohrbaugh LHP
76 Brodie Downs RHP

Chicago Cubs (2-6):
2 Ryan Theriot SS
1 Kosuke Fukudome RF
25 Derrek Lee 1B
16 Aramis Ramirez 3B
19 Matt Murton LF
17 Mike Fontenot 2B
24 Henry Blanco C
20 Felix Pie CF
30 Ted Lilly LHP

Other Pitchers:
22 Kevin Hart RHP
44 Chad Fox RHP
48 Neal Cotts LHP
63 Carmen Pignatiello LHP
49 Carlos Marmol RHP

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March 7, 2008 9:35 AM

Beltre's left thumb, and being patient

Posted by Jose Romero

3B Adrian Beltre won't participate in baseball drills today because of a sore left thumb. It's the same one he sprained last season and missed five starts in June. This injury happened when a hard ground ball in yesterday's game caught on the "meat" of the thumb (the lower part) on his glove hand. Beltre is expected to be available to play tomorrow.

Manager John McLaren talked about the competition as the M's seek to find a replacement for George Sherrill, the departed left-handed setup man from last season. Those in the mix include Eric O'Flaherty, Cesar Jimenez, Jake Woods and to a lesser extent Ryan Rowland-Smith and Ryan Feierabend, though they are viewed more as long relievers.

"These guys are competing," McLaren said. "We've got some guys who know that position's open. You can see the intensity starting to pick up between those guys."

"I don't have a timeframe for myself. It's not something like the starting rotation where we felt we had to address. This is something that's going to work its way through as we go through spring training."

But he had some praise for Jimenez, who got the save yesterday.

"He was lights out in winter ball. The thing I like about him is that he uses both sides of the plate and he's got a good changeup. He's somebody who was definitely on the radar screen coming to spring training and he's done nothing but strengthen himself here. I like what I've seen."

McLaren plans to hand out a sheet of paper to hitters with some figures to illustrate patience, or lack thereof, at the plate. For example, what each hitter did on the first pitch, what he did on a 1-1 count, 2-1 count, etc.

"It will paint a picture for each of our hitters and they'll see that they don't hit well in certain counts," McLaren said. "Sometimes it tells you that they've got their minds made up for that pitch no matter what it is. It's an ongoing process. It's not going to happen overnight.
"You'd be surprised what some of our hitters hit in certain counts. There's one in particular who just stands out, and you shake your head and don't know how it happened," McLaren added.

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March 6, 2008 2:45 PM

Game on from Maryvale

Posted by Jose Romero

Game over, M's win, 5-2. They're 4-3 in Cactus League play.

Notes
-Ryan Feierabend was the winning pitcher after throwing two scoreless innings in relief of Hernandez. Cesar Jimenez picked up the save with a perfect ninth and the Mariners' relievers did not allow a hit over five innings after Hernandez left the game.
-Carlos Silva is tomorrow's starting pitcher in Mesa against the Chicago Cubs.
-Mike Morse was 1-for-4 (double) and is now batting. 533 in the spring (8-for15).
-3B Adrian Beltre had to leave the game with a sore thumb from a ground ball off his hand.
-C Adam Moore, a sixth-round draft pick in 2006 and non-roster invitee, played in his first spring training game and doubled in his only at-bat.
-Former Mariners pitcher Floyd Bannister has been named to the College Baseball Hall of Fame induction class for 2008. Bannister played at Arizona State from 1974-1976.
-Former major-league manager Whitey Herzog made an appearance at Mariners camp Thursday morning.
-Former Mariner Mike Cameron went 0-for-3 in the game.

Bottom 8th

UPDATE: Another hit for Mike Morse, who is now 1-for-4 today and is now 8-for-15 in the spring, 2 doubles.
After Norton's blast, it's 5-2 Seattle. Norton has 3 RBI today as he tries to make his case to make the roster.


Top 6

With the bases loaded and one out, Greg Norton hits a deep sacrifice fly to right. A run scores, but more importantly, all the runners moved up, even Miguel Cairo from from first to second. And that is pivotal, as Matt Tuiasosopo, pinch-hitting for Beltre, rips a single to left field, scoring Bloomquist and Cairo. 3-2 M's.


Ben: The M's have nothing going on offense. Two hits, both singles and no one having advanced past first.

End 4th

Hernandez strikes out the side, getting our favorite Brewer of the day, Hart, looking on the final pitch of the inning. Hernandez has thrown 47 total pitches, 34 for strikes. I believe he's done for the day at this point. Pretty commanding performance when he didn't throw mistake pitches. Gave up the two HRs, but fanned five in four innings.


End 3rd

Another rocket shot of a home run off the bat of Rickie Weeks off Hernandez. He turned on the pitch and drove it out of there in a hurry to the berm in left field, maybe 375-380 feet. 2-0 Milwaukie.


End 2nd

Hernandez retired the side in order after the homer. He has thrown only 21 pitches.

Bottom 2

Let me tell you, Ryan Braun from the Brewers just crushed a Hernandez pitch at least 410 feet. It was high up the wall in CF. I mean straightaway and off the corrugated wall above the yellow home run line. 1-0 Milwaukee.


Bottom 1

Felix Hernandez needs just 9 pitches to set down the Brew Crew in order. Seven were strikes. Prince Fielder for the Brewers looked pretty funny running in his super-baggy pants to first base. He's a big dude.

Another beautiful day, but I think they said it was only 65 degrees. It was also just announced that in Milwaukee, its 28.

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March 6, 2008 9:37 AM

Sunglasses at night

Posted by Jose Romero

UPDATE: OF Jeremy Reed was scratched from today's lineup and replaced by Bronson Sardinha because of a bruised right knee. He is day-to-day. Might have been from a slide in yesterday's minor-league game, I am told. Also, DH Jose Vidro will hit off a tee tomorrow and could play Saturday, and P Miguel Batista will throw a bullpen session tomorrow and is scheduled to make his next start Sunday in a split-squad game at Milwaukee.

C'mon all you 80s music junkies, I know you get the reference. The reason I use it is because Corey Hart (the same name as the guy who sang "Sunglasses at Night") is starting in RF for the Milwaukee Brewers today in their spring training game against the Mariners.

My favorite line in the song: "Don't mess around with a guy in shades, oh no....I can't believe it."

So it's on to the Phoenix borough of Maryvale this afternoon for the game. Felix Hernandez is the scheduled starter for Seattle.

3B Adrian Beltre has rejoined the team after going to Mexico for a personal matter earlier in the week, and he is in the lineup today. Manager John McLaren intended to let Beltre decide when he wants to play after Beltre returned from a dealing with a death in his wife's family, and apparently Beltre is ready to go now.

McLaren said utility players Miguel Cairo and Willie Bloomquist "mirror each other," and Cairo moves to SS today after being used at 3B in previous games. McLaren said Cairo will play in the outfield soon, "just to see what he brings."

McLaren wasn't specific as to which OF position for Cairo.

Let's take a look at today's lineups:

Mariners (3-3)
Miguel Cairo SS
Bronson Sardinha CF
Greg Norton 1B
Adrian Beltre 3B
Bryan LaHair DH
Wladimir Balentien LF
Mike Morse RF
Jamie Burke C
Willie Bloomquist 2B

Felix Hernandez RHP
(Other scheduled pitchers)
Ryan Feierabend
Sean White
Roy Corcoran
Jake Woods
Cesar Jimenez

Milwaukee Brewers (4-3)

RIckie Weeks 2B
Mike Cameron CF
Prince Fielder 1B
Ryan Braun LF
Corey Hart RF
Joe Dillon 3B
J.J. Hardy SS
Matt LaPorta DH
Jason Kendall C

Ben Sheets RHP

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March 5, 2008 3:30 PM

Game track 3/5

Posted by Jose Romero

Final score: Mariners 6, Angels 5
M's go to 3-3 in Cactus League play.

Brandon Morrow was a little shaky at the end, but he got the out when he had to.
A few postgame notes:
-McLaren said he liked what he saw from Bedard, good velocity, good breaking balls.
-McLaren said roster cuts will be made after the team gets back from a three-game road trip to Tucson this Sunday through Tuesday.
-Asked about Ichiro being hitless, McLaren joked: "He better pick it up or he's going to Triple A."
-Pitching line on J.J. Putz: 1 INN, 3 hits, 2 earned runs, K.
-Pitching line on Morrow: 1 INN, 1 hit, 1 earned run, 2 BB, K.

Bottom 6

Mariners regulars still in the game. Ichiro is 0-for-3 with an RBI. Betancourt 3-for-4. Johjima 2-for-3. Bloomquist 2-for-3. Now as I write, the regulars are leaving the field to an ovation. It's now 6-4 Seattle.


Bottom 5

Willie Bloomquist just had a double-digit pitch at-bat and drove in a run with an RBI single. That was right after Jose Lopez knocked in two runs with a hit. M's get a three-spot in the fifth, 6-2 after 5.


Being Erik Bedard

Oh man, I know this topic is going to start something. The reporters who cover the team just got back from talking to Bedard after his performance. Total time on my recorder of the interview session: 1 minute, 18 seconds. Even the security guard who let us back into the stadium knew the deal.

"Didn't have much to say to ya, did he?" she said.

Yup, Bedard was...Bedard. He set the tone right off.
"You get four questions," he told the group.

1. Can you tell the difference from start to start?
Bedard: "No, not really. I was throwing same as last week. They just didn't hit it today."

2. This is a team you're going to face a lot this year. Is there anything you can get from them the first time you're looking at them (the Angels)?
Bedard: "No, not really. They're in the same boat as us. Just trying to get ready for the season and trying to get in shape."

3. How helpful was it to have the kind of defense you got from Willie (Bloomquist) at third base today?"
Bedard: "Helped me a lot. I wouldn't have gotten out of the second inning if he wouldn't have made those plays."

4 My question: "The third pitch to Figgins..."
Bedard interrupts: "Last one."
Me: "You hit him with strikes the first two. The third one, you looked like you were a little upset. Did you miss the location a little on that one?
Bedard: "I looked upset? Really? To start the game off, you mean? Curveball. Yeah, well, he hit it. I was trying to get him (Figgins) out with less than four pitches. He hit a triple."
(Someone tries to ask another one...
Bedard: "That's it. Four. Later." (He walks off).


By the way, what did I say about Sexson picking it? He just snared a sinking liner from Big Bad Vlad Guerrero for the third out of the top of the fifth. Fans gave him a partial standing ovation.
Dblog: 3-2 Padres over M's in the B game, seven innings.

Top 4

Angels cut it to 3-2 on a single by Howie Kendrick to drive in Torii Hunter with one out off Cha Seung Baek.
Mariners have 8 hits in this game.

Bottom 3rd

UPDATE: Second hit of the game for Norton, who was 1-for-10 coming into the game. Norton stole a base in the second inning on what appeared to be a busted hit-and-run play with Jose Lopez at the plate.

If this goes according to form, Bedard's day is over. 3 innings, 2 hits, 1 run, one K, one BB. I had him for 38 total pitches, 26 for strikes. Perhaps he'll have a little more to say about this one than the last.

Sexson is hitting the ball hard. He just lined out to third. He also made a saving scoop of a throw in the ground from Bloomquist in the top of the inning.

Bottom 2

UPDATE: Betancourt just got his second hit of the game. Ichiro got an RBI with a sacrifice fly to score Greg Norton from third. Bad throw and even worse pickup by the catcher for the Angels, Jeff Mathis. 3-1 Mariners.
Two out, runners on first and second.

Got this started a little late, but so far Bedard looks better than his first outing. He's started out 6 of first 9 hitter with a strike. Angels' Figgins did a good job going opposite field with his triple to lead off the game. Since then, Bedard has settled down. I could see the frustration on his face after the Figgins hit, must not have located it well.

The Mariners brought the lumber in the first. Granted they're facing Nick Adenhart, who has never pitched in the majors but is a top Angels prospect.

Ichiro is still hitless in the spring, but Raul Ibanez is now batting .500 (4-for-8) after his triple that drove in Betancourt. And Sexson's double in the first was a bomb. That ball is out in more than a few major league parks. He hit it to straightaway center off the wall on the fly and it's 410 feet just to the left and right of dead center. That drove in Ibanez and it's 2-1 Mariners as they bat here.

Game time: 1:05 p.m. and only 67 degrees.

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March 5, 2008 11:00 AM

Horacio and Phillippe

Posted by Jose Romero

Both looked pretty good in the minor league game. I just got back from it. Aumont was dominant. He hit 94 and 95 mph with his fastball and made the Padres hitters, albeit minor leaguers, look bad. Aumont pitched one inning, struck out one, never allowed a hit ball out of the infield and threw 10 pitches, 8 for strikes.

Ramirez struck out six batters in three innings. He walked one but gave up five hits and one run. He threw 48 total pitches, 31 for strikes.

Jeremy Reed hit a home run. The M's were down 3-2 in the sixth when I left. Chris Reitsma got in one inning of relief work and his first pitch was hit out for a home run. He allowed two runs on three hits, walked one and struck out one.

Lola: The bees were indeed the "super strange" thing going on at yesterday's game. It's in my story today.
Also, today Raul Ibanez was trying to teach one of the Japanese reporters how to say "I'm afraid of bees" in Spanish. It's an international game.

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March 5, 2008 8:00 AM

Doubleheader today

Posted by Jose Romero

Sort of. The Mariners play their first and perhaps only minor-league game of the spring. They could schedule another down the road but it's not certain.

Following that game, it's the regularly scheduled spring training affair against those hated Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Is that what they are now? Or is it just the Los Angeles Angels? There's only one team in L.A. for my money, and as much as I like what Arte Moreno has done, it's the Dodgers.

Anyway, last year's first-round draft pick, Phillippe Aumont, is scheduled to pitch this morning. I'll have some details later in the day but now I have to do the walk, as Morris Day and the Time spoke of in a song from the 1980s, to the Padres' section of the complex here in Peoria.

Before I go, let's take a look at the regular-heavy lineups for today's big-league game. M's manager John McLaren talked this week about wanting to win this game and told a story of how the Angels brought two busloads of players to a game against Seattle in spring training one year in Peoria, and then-manager Lou Piniella asked McLaren, his bench coach at the time, why so many.

"They want to win," McLaren said. "That's what it's all about."

McLaren intends to send a similar message to the Angels, that the Mariners intend to reverse the trend of Angels' more recent dominance of them. L.A. was 13-6 vs. Seattle in 2007.

Lineups here:
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (3-2):
9 Chone Figgins 3B
24 Gary Matthews Jr. RF
27 Vladimir Guerrero DH
48 Torii Hunter CF
16 Garret Anderson LF
47 Howie Kendrick 2B
39 Robb Quinlan 1B
5 Jeff Mathis C
6 Maicer Izturis SS

90 Nick Adenhart RHP

Other Pitchers:
94 Henry Bonilla RHP
52 Jason Bulger RHP
66 Jose Arredondo RHP
86 Steve Marek RHP
83 Darren O'Day RHP

Seattle Mariners (2-3):
51 Ichiro Suzuki CF
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
28 Raul Ibanez LF
44 Richie Sexson 1B
6 Brad Wilkerson RF
2 Kenji Johjima C
10 Greg Norton DH
4 Jose Lopez 2B
16 Willie Bloomquist 3B

45 Erik Bedard LHP

Other Pitchers:
20 J.J. Putz RHP
35 Brandon Morrow RHP
54 Sean Green RHP
58 Cha Seung Baek RHP

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March 4, 2008 6:44 PM

Tomorrow for Ramirez

Posted by Jose Romero

Seattle plays a minor-league game this morning at the neighboring San Diego Padres’ field complex. Such games don’t count in spring-training stats or standings, but big-leaguer Horacio Ramirez is scheduled to pitch.

This is big for Ramirez, who pitched well in his first outing a couple of days ago.

By the way, look for the M's to trot out one or two more regular players in tomorrow's "A" squad game than in past days as they look to see how the players blend in as a unit.

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March 4, 2008 3:12 PM

Under the rocks in East Phoenix

Posted by Jose Romero

End game: Oakland 9, Seattle 6
Mariners are 2-3 in Cactus League, have lost second in a row.
Sorry for not posting for a while, I was working on some breaking news (unrelated to the M's).
-Mike Morse played the whole game and was 2-for-4. He hit a home run in the top of the ninth and is now batting .636 in spring training (7-for-11). Talk about making a case to win a roster spot, but it's still early.
-The reason why Balentien and Ibanez were on the ground in the fifth inning in the outfield was indeed a swarm of bees buzzing around them.
-Erik Bedard will start for Seattle tomorrow vs. the Angels.


Batista pitched hurt

Batista admitted that he hurt his back on the lower left side above the hip, and it affected his performance in the second inning. The back tightened up after the first inning and he couldn't finish his pitches. Batista gave up two runs on two hits, walked one and struck out two. The reason he stayed in for the third inning is because, as he said, he wanted to prove something to himself and he feels like he's in the best shape of his career, that he can pitch when hurt.
Batista said that as he hit the ground and shifted his weight, he felt a sharp pain. He said it's probably a muscle strain. Not sure yet if it will affect when he pitches again.
In the second inning when he gave up his hits, runs and walks, his location was off. He said the back had been tightening up for the past week or so.


Top 7

Just got upstairs after listening to Batista and Dickey. Looks like I missed some action.


Bottom 5

OK, that was super strange. Ibanez and Balentien were lying on the grass in the outfield and it delayed the start of the inning. I guess there were bees out there. They were down for a minute or so and then got up, and play resumed. I'll have to check that one out.


Bottom 4
3-2 A's on sac fly. Then 2B Chen bails out Dickey by snagging a hard line drive up the middle on the fly. Inning over.

Update: Dickey is struggling with his control though Johjima is handling the knuckler well. Three walks in the inning and two on five pitches EACH. Bases loaded, one out.

Now pitching...R.A. Dickey for the Mariners. Johjima is catching him.


End 3rd

Batista sets them down in order. 10 total pitches. 41 for the game, 27 for strikes. Hard to tell what he's working on. But his day should be over now. He worked fast, that's for sure. I would say that regardless of what any other starter is working on (Washburn talked about adjusting his changeup grip yesterday), whatever Bedard does is bigger news right now and worthy of more scrutiny since he was such a huge addition. He's also the Opening Day starter. So he can't be so easily dismissed.


Top 3

Yung Chi Chen just went yard to left field. M's third HR of the spring. 2-2.

End 2nd

Batista got raked with two out in the bottom of the second. Two hard-hit doubles after walk brings in two runs, 2-1 Oakland. Batista has thrown 31 total pitches, 20 for strikes. He gave up two earned runs in his last outing last week, though that didn't count in spring training stats.

Top 2

With two outs, Balentien rips it some 405 feet to almost dead center, off the wall for a double. Johjima was dead at the plate had not the second baseman cut off the relay throw from CF. But he threw to third and they got Balentien in a run down. Johjima was barely rounding third when the CF was up with the ball. Run scores, 1-0 M's.

Bottom 1

Update: 3 up, 3 down for Batista -- 13 total pitches, 8 for strikes.

After two deep fly outs by Betancourt and Ibanez in the top of the first, Miguel Batista is on the hill. Raul gave it a ride to the wall. Batista is working pretty fast, strikes out leadoff man on a foul tip.

That's the setting here at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, where the A's and Mariners are under way at 1:04. It's 71 degrees and sunny.

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March 4, 2008 9:58 AM

Today's Mariners lineup

Posted by Jose Romero

At Oakland...

Seattle Mariners (2-2):
13 Miguel Cairo 3B
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
28 Raul Ibanez LF
44 Richie Sexson 1B
9 Jeff Clement DH
2 Kenji Johjima C
50 Wladimir Balentien CF
12 Mike Morse RF
17 Yung Chi Chen 2B

43 Miguel Batista RHP

Other Pitchers:
18 Ryan Rowland-Smith LHP
41 R.A. Dickey RHP
48 Roy Corcoran RHP
59 Eric O'Flaherty LHP

Oakland is 3-2. Their starting pitcher is Joe Blanton, who is 0-1 with a 27.00 ERA in the spring.


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March 4, 2008 9:28 AM

Road trip...to Phoenix

Posted by Jose Romero

Today I head south to Phoenix for today's game against the A's. But first, the skipper (John McLaren) had his morning briefing.

By the way, former M's catcher Dan Wilson has arrived in camp. He's here for some instructional work with the catchers. Jay Buhner is still around as well.

McLaren started by talking about watching Cubs manager Lou Piniella from the Mariners' dugout during yesterday's spring training game. He admitted peeking at the signs a little bit and laughed about it, signs he probably knows well from all his years with Piniella.

After the game, McLaren went out for dinner with Lee Elia, Wilson, Buhner and others, and they told "10 years worth" of stories from the days with Piniella.

McLaren was then asked about Richie Sexson and the fans' reaction to his struggles last season. Does he think fans are more apt to boo bad performances in the age of Internet and high salaries and expectations?

"Good question," McLaren said. "All I can say is, I know there are certain cities, New York comes to mind right off, where they don't care who you are. If you're not doing what they think you should be doing, they let you know about it. Of course there's Boston and Philadelphia and I think they're from the same school of thought.

"You hear boos every now and then in the home park, and you wonder what's going on. Especially somebody that's a established player and whatever. It's part of the game. It's not a good feeling but it's part of the game."

On to some news of the day:
-DH Jose Vidro will not be rushed back, and isn't likely to play before Friday. Jeff Clement will get a few at-bats as DH in games, McLaren said. Clement is in the starting lineup at DH against Oakland today. Vidro felt something during extra batting practice one day, kept swinging and aggravated the pain in his right elbow.

-P Anderson Garcia is to have an MRI on his arm injury today. Injured IF/C Brant Ust also had an MRI for his back spasms.

-Kenji Johjima will start at catcher today so he can work on catching the knuckleball from R.A. Dickey, who is scheduled to pitch today in relief. Johjima will also catch starting pitcher Erik Bedard tomorrow.

-T.J. Nakagawa, an intern trainer with the club, was the featured performer in the daily "Mariners Idol," when a young player or employee has to sing or do something in front of everyone in the clubhouse. Nakagawa, who went to Arkansas for college, drew rave reviews for leading the group in the Razorbacks' traditional chant of "Whoo Pig, Sooey!!!"

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March 3, 2008 3:15 PM

Let's play two!

Posted by Jose Romero

End Game: Cubs 6, Mariners 5

Nice ninth-inning rally by the M's (three runs) and Matt Tuiasosopo has a chance to win or tie it with a hit with two outs, but he strikes out swinging. Good moment for the youngster, though. He had the crowd behind him and was up there swinging against a proven major-leaguer in Cubs P Bob Howry.

Notes:
-Ichiro is now 0-for-5 with a walk in two games.
-Mike Morse is still on a tear after his ninth inning double to left off the wall on the fly. Morse is 5-for-7 in the spring (.714).
-Miguel Batista hopes to redeem himself after a rough outing in the charity game last Thursday. He starts tomorrow at Oakland in Phoenix. Batista gave up two earned runs on two hits and walked three in 2 1/3 innings.

Seventh-inning stretch

As they sing a Harry Caray classic, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," the Cubbies have broken ths one open with a run in the sixth and two in the seventh. It's 6-2 Chicago. Washburn spoke of how his changed grip on his changeup worked out well today.
"I'm always up for trying something new," Washburn said. "So far it feels good. It's just a slight variation of the grip I used last year, basically. I just move the ball a little bit in my fingers and I have the pressure point
in a different spot. More pressure on the middle finger and I hope it doesn't cut."

Top 5

Nice defensive play by Jose Lopez, who catches the carom off SS Mark Kiger's glove on a hard ground ball from Chicago's Matt Murton and fires to first in time for the out. Two out.

End 3rd

In keeping with the spirit of the Cubs, I thought I would change the headline to an Ernie Banks quote.
Washburn's day is over. I got him for 40 total pitches, 26 for strikes. No runs, four hits, 1 strikeout. Pretty effective.

Top 3

I assumed wrong. Washburn is working so fast that he is back out there for another inning. He hits a batter but also picks off another runner after a single.

Bottom 2

OK, that's the second straight day that a Mariners hitter has pegged an opposing pitcher with a hit ball. Jeremy Reed did it and got an infield hit for an RBI, Reed's first hit of the spring. The Mariners hit the ball hard off of Cubs starter Jon Lieber with two runs on three hits in the inning. 2-0 Seattle.

Top 2
Another hit given up by Washburn, but he worked fast and never got deep into counts. This inning he threw only 9 pitches. Six were strikes. 25 total. Wow. Washburn's day, I assume at this point, is over and it lasted 16 minutes of game time.

Top 1
Nick Lachey, the celebrity/co-owner of the AAA Tacoma Rainiers, is watching this game from a broadcasters' booth. He's wearing his Rainiers jersey.
Jarrod Washburn throws 16 pitches in the first inning, allows no runs on two hits. Ten of Washburn's pitches were strikes.

The Cubs haven't won yet. I was just channeling Harry Caray from the days when I used to leave junior high, get home on the bus and turn on WGN to catch the last inning or two of a Cubs game with Harry and Steve Stone on the broadcast. Game on. 1:08 p.m. Arizona time, 65 degrees with a nice wind blowing out to left field.

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March 3, 2008 9:50 AM

Ticket sales strong, and today's lineups

Posted by Jose Romero

The Mariners just announced that 151,397 tickets were sold the first weekend after single-game tickets went on sale last Saturday. That's up from 133,922 in single-game sales at the same point last year.

The numbers don't include season-ticket sales and pre-sold group ticket sales. No games are sold out so far, but Opening Day and games against the Yankees and Red Sox at Safeco Field are selling very well.

And now, your starting lineups and available pitchers. It's Jarrod Washburn starting for Seattle.

Chicago Cubs (1-3):
5 Ronny Cedeno CF
2 Ryan Theriot SS
1 Kosuke Fukudome RF
19 Matt Murton LF
67 Micah Hoffpauir 1B
9 Jake Fox DH
65 Luis Figueroa 2B
6 Alex Cintron 3B
55 Koyie Hill C

32 Jon Lieber RHP

Other Pitchers:
45 Sean Marshall LHP
47 Scott Eyre LHP
50 Jeff Samardzija RHP
51 Juan Mateo RHP
52 Tim Lahey RHP
62 Bob Howry RHP
63 Carmen Pignatiello RHP
70 Geoff Jones LHP
71 Esmailan Caridad RHP
78 Ed Campusano LHP

Seattle Mariners (2-1):
51 Ichiro Suzuki CF
16 Willie Bloomquist 3B
10 Greg Norton DH
6 Brad Wilkerson RF
9 Jeff Clement C
39 Bryan LaHair 1B
4 Jose Lopez 2B
8 Jeremy Reed LF
64 Mark Kiger SS

56 Jarrod Washburn LHP

Other Pitchers:
46 Sean White RHP
48 Roy Corcoran RHP
49 Jake Woods LHP
60 Joe Woerman RHP
62 Cesar Jimenez LHP
66 Robert Rohrbaugh LHP
68 Stephen Kahn RHP

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March 3, 2008 9:47 AM

Beltre gone, Vidro hurt

Posted by Jose Romero

Manager John McLaren said 3B Adrian Beltre has left the team to be with his wife's family after her grandmother died. Beltre is expected back Wednesday and probably won't play in a game until Friday.

DH Jose Vidro has a sore right elbow, "nothing major," McLaren said. "We just don't want to have him swing during a game and hurt it worse.

Utility player Brant Ust has back spasms and will miss three to five days. Not sure how this happened, but he ran strangely to first base on one at-bat in Sunday's game.

Vidro could see more time on the field this season, McLaren said, allowing Ichiro to be the DH and giving either 2B Jose Lopez or 1B Richie Sexson a break every now and then. McLaren doesn't see Vidro as purely a DH.

The starters will play together more consistently as a unit starting around the third week of this month, McLaren said. For now, regulars will play one or two days and then get a day off, but on Wednesday when Seattle hosts the Los Angeles Angels, all but the absent Beltre and perhaps Vidro could start the game.

McLaren was asked if there is a win-or-bust mentality with this team, that anything less than winning the AL West would be a failure.
"Anything less than the playoffs would be a disappointment to me," McLaren said. "I think the team feels the same way. We feel like we're a good ball club and we feel like we can be an elite ball club and that's our mindset.
The thing that enourages McLaren is that the things the team is working on in drills during spring training mornings are carrying over to the games, where they are being implemented.

"We don't run trick plays," he continued. "We want fundamentally sound plays and we want to be a fundamentally sound ball club."

Here's McLaren talking about the competition for the fourth OF spot, between Mike Morse, Charlton Jimerson, Wladimir Balentien and Jeremy Reed. Morse is the hottest hitter (4-for-6, 5 RBI in three games). Jimerson has scored three runs and stolen two bases. Balentien is 3-for-6 with 2 HRs and 3 RBI.

"It's going to be tough and I like it," McLaren said. "I really think competition brings out the best in all of us."
McLaren also said he has to consider the fact that Jimerson and Morse are out of minor-league options when making the decision on who makes the final roster.

Now on to today's game. The Chicago Cubs are in Peoria, and McLaren gets to see his longtime friend Lou Piniella, the former M's manager who now runs the Cubs. Here's a story on Lou being the Lou we all know and love and remember, plus the fact that the press box here in Peoria is going to be inundated with our comrades from the Japanese media here to see Ichiro play against Kosuke Fukudome of the Cubs, the first time the two Japanese star outfielders will meet as U.S. big-leaguers.

"I love seeing Lou," McLaren said. "It's going to be nice seeing him and Matt Sinatro (former M's coach). We all have such history and we're all so close. I'm sure we'll have a few good laughs."

How about a Mariners-Cubs World Series? "Oh boy, about as good as it gets right there," McLaren said. "That would be something special. Something to shoot for."
Today's game is on FSN, 12:05 p.m. Seattle time. Next game on FSN is Sunday, March 16 vs. Milwaukee, a 1:05 start. Tomorrow's game is in Phoenix against the Oakland Athletics at their stadium, a 12:05 start in Seattle.


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March 2, 2008 3:30 PM

M's-Padres March 2

Posted by Jose Romero

UPDATE: McLaren said in his postgame comments that he has to check on the status of injured pitcher Anderson Garcia, who might have suffered a setback in his return from a right biceps injury while throwing a bullpen session earlier today. I'll check on it tomorrow.

END GAME

Mariners win it 6-2. Fourteen hits for Seattle. M's are 2-1 in spring training. Brandon Morrow pitched two innings and allowed two hits, a walk and struck out one. Ryan Feierabend was also used in relief and walked three batters in two innings, giving up a run on two hits. Snydro22: Jimenez isn't in the final box score. Charlton Jimerson could be the guy you are thinking of. He came in as a pinch runner in the fifth, stayed in the game in CF and went 1-for-2 with two runs scored and an RBI.

Bottom 7

UPDATE: Hoffman is out of the game. They just gave him the hook. Two runs allowed on four hits, and there are runners at second and third.

Mark Kiger doubles to left, and one out later, Charlton Jimerson drives him in with a doube. It's 4-2 Mariners. McLaren had good things to say about both these young guys on Saturday. They've impressed him. And they probably did just now. As I write that, Bryan LaHair drives in Jimerson with a single to right, and Trevor Hoffman, the future Hall-of-Fame closer for the Padres, has been touched up for two runs this inning. 5-2 Mariners.

Top 7

3-2 Seattle and the starters have left the game. I almost got hit with a foul ball on the concourse here in Peoria as I was coming back to the press box from the Mariners' clubhouse. Carlos Silva was a pretty good interview.

Bottom 5

Bringing Sexy back! Bad joke, sorry. Richie Sexson drives in a run with a hard single to left. He's 2-for-3.

To answer a couple of questions:
Lance: Geoff is taking some vacation time in Hawaii and will be back on March 11 to spring training.
Thanks for the kind words.
Alfonso: Soy de origen mexicano (Chicano por vida!). Naci en Oregon. Pero latinos unidos y arriba boricuas!
And to those who offered me restaurant tips in Arizona, I truly appreciate it.

Top 5

Scott Hairston leads off against J.J. Putz with a single, smacking what looked like a hanging breaking ball. Then Matt Antonelli, a pinch hitter, reaches base when Sexson fields his ground ball and decides to fire to third base to get Hairston. The throw bounces and the ball gets away from Miguel Cairo at third, and Hairston scores to make it 2-2. But Putz buckles down and retires the next three hitters, two on strikeouts.

Top 3

Silva is out of the game. 23 total pitches, 14 for strikes. 2 innings, 1 hit, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts. That should satisfy a lot of people.

Top 2

Silvas breezes, throwing only 10 pitches, eight for strikes. He's victimized by a fly ball lost in the sun by LF Wladimir Balentien, whose defense has been suspect early in spring training game action. But hey, this is Arizona and it's windy today and sunny as usual.

Bottom 1

The Mariners bats come alive right away against San Diego star Jake Peavy. No. 2 hitter Bronson Sardinha draws a walk with one out, and after Raul Ibanez is caught looking at strike three, Richie Sexson lashes a base hit to left field. (Forgot to mention before how Ibanez stared at home plate umpire Chris Griffith after the strike three call, then had some words for the ump as he walked back to the dugout). The cheers ring from the stands,as this was Sexson's first real solid hit of the spring and people know how he struggled last season. With runners at first and second, Kenji Johjima rips a ground rule double to drive in Sardinha. Then Mike Morse, the sizzling Mike Morse with four hits and 6 RBI in the past three days, hits a sharp ground ball off Peavy's right leg for an infield hit. Sexson scores. 2-0 Seattle after 1.

Top 1

Carlos Silva, in his first start as a Mariner in spring training, gets it done in the first in13 pitches. Six were strikes. He walked the leadoff man but came back and got the next batter looking at strike three.

Game on, 1:05 p.m, 69 degrees and windy. Like Safeco in late June.

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March 2, 2008 9:28 AM

My last Sunday in Peoria

Posted by Jose Romero

Strange but true. I'm covering the M's until March 11, and they'll be in Tucson by this time a week from today. So that's where I'll be. Looking forward to eating at Mi Nidito, a very good Mexican place that I sampled on my only other visit to Tucson, when I saw my Oregon Ducks clobber the Arizona Wildcats in football some years back.

Kenji Johjima will catch when R.A. Dickey next pitches, Tuesday afternoon. This from manager John McLaren today. The thinking here is that the team wants to see Johjima catch the knuckleball, Dickey's signature pitch. I imagine its also somewhat of an indication that Dickey will make the final roster, the reasoning being why get your starting catcher used to catching the knuckleball if it isn't going to be seen during the season, unless there's another flutter-ball pitcher on the team I'm not aware of? Enlighten me, blog readers, if there is.

McLaren was also asked if Johjima has been instructed not to swing at a first pitch in games.
"Give him time," the skipper joked, drawing laughter. "We know it's in the cards."

I think someone asked that I post my picture on this blog so that people know who they are going after (in a matter of speaking). I politely and respectfully decline -- what are you, crazy? Now why would I invite potshots at my mug? Kidding of course. I'm the ghost blogger. I appear on the Seahawks blog a lot because that's my main job at the Times -- covering the Seahawks. I'm faceless there, too (it's Danny O'Neil's Seahawks blog).

The big news at this point is that Carlos Silva is making his spring training debut for Seattle today. He was the other big addition to the starting rotation in the offseason, along with Erik Bedard.

And I've just been informed that Chris Reitsma, Mark Lowe, Jon Huber and Arthur Rhodes are all throwing live batting practice today at 11 a.m. AZ time. They're all rehabilitating long-term injuries.

Now fans (in my best public address announcer voice)... welcome to Game 3 of the Mariners' Cactus League season. It's the Mariners hosting the San Diego Padres from right up the street. Let's meet the lineups for both teams...

San Diego Padres (1-1):
12 Scott Hairston DH
10 Tadahito Iguchi 2B
15 Jim Edmonds CF
7 Tony Clark 1B
3 Khalil Greene SS
8 Michael Barrett C
64 Chip Ambres LF
18 Paul McAnulty RF
2 Luis Rodriguez 3B

44 Jake Peavy RHP

Other Pitchers:
38 Glendon Rusch LHP
75 Mauro Zarate RHP
21 Heath Bell RHP
51 Trevor Hoffman RHP
50 Joe Thatcher LHP
67 Paul Abraham RHP

Seattle Mariners (1-1)
13 Miguel Cairo 3B
61 Bronson Sardinha CF
28 Raul Ibañez DH
44 Richie Sexson 1B
2 Kenji Johjima C
12 Mike Morse RF
50 Wladimir Balentien LF
23 Tug Hulett 2B
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS

52 Carlos Silva RHP

Other Pitchers:
31 Ryan Feierabend LHP
74 Philip Barzilla LHP
20 J.J. Putz RHP
35 Brandon Morrow RHP
59 Eric O'Flaherty LHP
54 Sean Green RHP
44 Andy Baldwin RHP
68 Doug Fister RHP


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March 1, 2008 4:18 PM

Saturday March 1 game thread

Posted by Jose Romero

Bottom 9

The game ends on a base hit to center field with two out and the Padres win 11-10. McLaren just labeled it "a Cactus League Special" kind of game. The Mariners are 1-1 in exhibition play.


Top 9

Wladimir Balentien just cracked his second home run of the game for the M's to tie it at 10. It went on a line just inside the left field foul pole about 343 feet (It's 340 down the line). Hulett is on with a double, but now there are two out.


Top 8

M's load the bases with one out for Jeff Clement, who some believe might be ready for the big leagues now, offensively, with his defense still being improved. Clement hits a one-hopper to second for a fielder's choice, Tug Hulett scores and there are runners at first and third with two out. 10-8 Padres.

Bottom 6

I just got back up from the clubhouse and the Padres are pouring it on, 10-6 now. The hits just keep coming off Sean White in this inning. White was a Rule 5 guy with the Mariners last season and appeared in 15 games. White is among those fighting for a spot on the roster, but after an outing like this (1 2/3 innings, 6 runs all earned, 6 hits, 2 BBs) it'll be even more of an uphill battle. For AKMarinersFan: Morse's throw was pretty nice. One-hopper, not that much on it but it was accurate. Morse looks loose out there and it shows (he's out of the game now). Burke made that play with the plate block, but the throw was in a good spot. Gonzalez isn't exactly Carl Lewis on the basepaths. And thanks to the person who pointed out that today is March 1 not 2. My bad.


Top 5

An encouraging outing for Horacio Ramirez, who gives up 2 hits and nothing else in his 2 innings. He induced a double play to get out of the fourth and also struck out a batter.

Top 4

WIth one out, Morse is at it again. Singles to left. Jose Lopez executes the hit and run to perfection, grounding a single to right with Morse scooting to third. Jamie Burke doubles on a bounce off the left field wall, scoring Morse, and Willie Bloomquist gets it deep enough for a sacrifice fly with Lopez scoring. 5-0 M's.


Bottom 2

Good throw, even better plate block as Morse fires to C Jamie Burke to throw out Adrian Gonzalez trying to score from third base on a fly ball out. That gets Hernandez out of the inning after he faced runners on first and third with one out. Hernandez goes 2 innings, allows 1 hit, 0 runs, walked one and struck out one. threw 32 total pitches, 19 for strikes. M's lead 3-0.

Bottom 1

It's Felix time. First pitch to Jeff DaVanon is fouled off for a strike. Hernandez breezes through the inning, unlike Padres starter Randy Wolf, who was taken out after 2/3 of an inning. Hernandez throws 10 pitches, three up, three down, and he got DaVanon looking at some heat.

Top 1

After two nondescript outs, the Mariners' bats come alive as they have in both previous games, the charity game against these same San Diego Padres and yesterday at SF. No. 3 hitter Greg Norton bloops a long single to right field, takes second on a walk to Adrian Beltre and scores on Brad Wilkerson's line drive single to left. The Padres' left fielder, Chase Headley, misplays the ball, and Beltre takes third with Wilkerson going to second.
Up comes Mike Morse, who produces once again. Morse rips a base hit up the middle and Beltre and Wilkerson score. That's 6 RBI for Morse in three games, one of course that didn't count. Wait -- none of them really "count" right?

Game on: 1:08 p.m. Arizona time, 73 degrees, hazy sunshine.

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March 1, 2008 12:10 PM

Saturday March 2 game thread

Posted by Jose Romero


Bottom 1

It's Felix time. First pitch to Jeff DaVanon is fouled off for a strike. Hernandez breezes through the inning, unlike Padres starter Randy Wolf, who was taken out after 2/3 of an inning. Hernandez throws 10 pitches, three up, three down, and he got DaVanon looking at some heat.

Top 1

After two nondescript outs, the Mariners' bats come alive as they have in both previous games, the charity game against these same San Diego Padres and yesterday at SF. No. 3 hitter Greg Norton bloops a long single to right field, takes second on a walk to Adrian Beltre and scores on Brad Wilkerson's line drive single to left. The Padres' left fielder, Chase Headley, misplays the ball, and Beltre takes third with Wilkerson going to second.
Up comes Mike Morse, who produces once again. Morse rips a base hit up the middle and Beltre and Wilkerson score. That's

Game on: 1:08 p.m. Arizona time, 73 degrees, hazy sunshine.

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March 1, 2008 8:52 AM

Getting set for Game 2

Posted by Jose Romero

The Mariners (1-0) have yet to play their spring home opener, even though they are playing in Peoria at their complex today. The San Diego Padres (0-1)are the home team. It's Felix Hernandez vs. Randy Wolf.

Before I continue, let me say that I will not be putting up video or audio or photos on the blog because I'm not equipped to do so. I know a lot of you enjoy that aspect of this blog and it very much enhances it, but all the "cool' stuff will take a hiatus until Geoff gets back. I appreciate your understanding.

Anyway, let's look at the starting lineup for Seattle today:

1. Ichiro CF
2. Jose Vidro DH
3. Greg Norton 1B
4. Adrian Beltre 3B
5. Brad Wilkerson RF
6. Mike Morse LF
7. Jose Lopez 2B
8. Jamie Burke C
9. Willie Bloomquist SS

Horacio Ramirez is expected to be the first pitcher out of the bullpen to relief Hernandez today. He's trying to make the team as a long reliever now that his spot in the starting rotation is gone for now.

"He's going to get a lot of opportunities," manager John McLaren said. "We're going to give him every opportunity to see where he fits on the staff. He's going to get a chance to pitch on a regular basis and he'll get some innings."

Another note: Mark Lowe, who is coming back from arm surgery, said he is throwing to live hitters tomorrow.
Chris Reitsma and Arthur Rhodes will do the same in the next couple of days.

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March 1, 2008 8:10 AM

McLaren not so cheery

Posted by Jose Romero

For the first time since I arrived, I got to see a full clubhouse. All the players were in there seated awaiting a meeting that started at 9 a.m.

Apparently manager John McLaren wasn't happy about some of the things said about Erik Bedard in the media after his two-inning outing Friday. Here's the link to my story on it in today's Times.

Thanks for allowing me to plug my own article. Shameless, I know. Anyway, I asked McLaren a question about wanting to see his new pitchers throw all their pitches, as he saw with Bedard. Here's how he started his response:

"I just want...all these pitchers to get their feet wet. First time on the mound. It would look great in the box score if it's three scoreless innings. That's not the bottom line for us. The bottom line, No. 1, they're healthy. No. 2, they're out on the mound for the first time and they're still getting in shape. We're not looking for box scores, so to speak. We're looking at what we see on the mound. Are they improving each time out? How's their stuff? Building their arm up. And I think sometimes, the fans and even the media are looking for just three scoreless innings and this is why we got this guy, and I'm not looking for that. If it happens, it does, and that's fine. But there's some other things that we're looking for. As an example, yesterday I was very happy with Erik. Very happy. He had good stuff...."

...and then, McLaren's mood changed.

"Some of the questions you guys asked me yesterday, it actually p----- me off. And it's carrying over into today."

Next came a couple of more expletives as he described the expectation level and how he just wants Bedard to get in shape. Then the morning briefing was over.


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