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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 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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Posted by AKMarinersFan

1:29 PM, Mar 01, 2008

lets just accept it ...HoRAM has made the team. It doesn't matter what he does from here on out. I don't see how Dickey makes this team

Posted by AKMarinersFan

1:31 PM, Mar 01, 2008

Jeez San Diego is going to be a really bad team this year

Posted by JP

1:35 PM, Mar 01, 2008

So is Bedard... and Mac is a terrible manager.

Posted by Scott (Marysville)

1:44 PM, Mar 01, 2008

Funny, I thought it was March 1st.

Posted by oregongal

2:04 PM, Mar 01, 2008

Yay, Lopez. I'd love to see him come roaring out of Spring Training.

Posted by -j.

2:07 PM, Mar 01, 2008

I think Mac needs to have a little thicker skin that this. He can't snap at reporters for asking too many questions cause thats what reporters are paid to do. As a ML manager, he should know how to deal with it without having a tissy.

On the other side, he is trying to back his #1 pitcher which is fine by me but he could handle it better. I can see when a player is short with media for stupid/numerous questions but managers are a different story. Especially in ST.

Posted by Chuck

2:09 PM, Mar 01, 2008

I hope Mike Morse continues his hot hitting, which would not only force McLaren to keep him on the big club, but give him a chance in right field when Wilkerson fades.

Posted by -j.

2:29 PM, Mar 01, 2008

What is the fascination with Mike Morse?

He is not even average defensively or on the bases. He has no speed or power. He is, for all intents and purposes, Willie Bloomquist with better contact.

You give Morse a full season of 500 ABs. He probably runs up a .280/.320/.400 line with less than 10 homers. Since he doesn't play defense or run particularly well, his value is as a pinch hitter since he can make consistent contact.

Posted by oregongal

2:52 PM, Mar 01, 2008

Also good to hear Burke's having a good game. The games don't mean that much for the guys with their starting places assured, but it's got to be a confidence booster for those going into the season on shaky ground (Lopez), the backups (Burke), and those hoping to make it on the big team (Morse).

Posted by newm'sfan

3:23 PM, Mar 01, 2008

I still dont understand how Tug Hulett gets left out of discusions about making the squad????? Every game he plays in he makes something happen.
2-2 yesterday and atleast a double late in this game. hmm.... seems like he just keeps racking up the stats with no love!!!

Posted by oregongal

3:47 PM, Mar 01, 2008

Yeah, go Tug!

Posted by Ned

3:49 PM, Mar 01, 2008

M's only drew two walks for the game. Isn't this something they should be working on during spring training

Posted by downinthegroove

4:04 PM, Mar 01, 2008

Out of curiosity it would be interesting to find the average length of M's in the minors. We have a ton of guys coming up on a shortage of options and a ton of guys who it would seem forever have been trying to make the roster...i.e. Morse, Baek...

Posted by newm'sfan

4:07 PM, Mar 01, 2008

Tug also wore one in this game and thats as good if not better than a walk. he also scored after he was hit and then his next ab he hit the double!! he is a gamer!!!!

Posted by oregongal

4:36 PM, Mar 01, 2008

newm's fan, are you his cousin? I don't have the time to go back and look, but I thought I saw that reference from someone.

Posted by newm'sfan

4:56 PM, Mar 01, 2008

Yes I am his cousin. I may be a little biased sometimes but I also know what makes a good baseball player so if I make comments about stuff I can definately back it up.

Posted by oregongal

5:10 PM, Mar 01, 2008

No disrespect intended. I think it's cool to have such good support. I'll definitely keep my eye on him. Welcome.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

5:12 PM, Mar 01, 2008

HoRam is my cousin (uh twice removed). Show me a little love too...

Posted by newm'sfan

5:24 PM, Mar 01, 2008

Thanks oregongal. Tug is good ball player and an even better person. Keep an eye open like you said and he might suprise some people this season.

Posted by Chuck

5:57 PM, Mar 01, 2008

I was looking at Tug Hulett and Jose Lopez stats and they're pretty comparable and it seems like Hulett can steal some bases as well based on his AAA numbers. Hulett almost has a 1 to 1 K/BB ratio in his career, aside from last year, which could help the mariners free swinging attitude. I think Tug could give Jose a run for his money for the starting second base job.

Posted by newm'sfan

6:10 PM, Mar 01, 2008

Thanks for giving him a shot chuck. I dont mean to sound like a cheerleader but Tug has earned atleast a chance to play in the bigs. When I first got on the forums all I was hearing was how lopez choked during the second half of the season last year and he couldnt get on base to save his life. Homeruns are great from homerun hitters but those guys that are homerun hitters dont get arround 100 rbi's without someone being on base in front of them and thats what Tug can bring to the table.

Posted by zDawg

6:19 PM, Mar 01, 2008

j

Mike Morse plays decent defense in the OF corners, and is better now than either corner OF last year.
He's no Ortiz, but he's a lifetime .302. He makes contact and puts the ball in play. He can back up the infield corners on defense.
Oh, yeah, he's at the major league minimum.
He plays better defense than Vidro, hits similarly, and costs $8 million less.

He is a young guy who is on the upswing. He continues to improve.That potential is a great part of the game to enjoy as a fan.

So far in 2 games, he is near the top as hits leader. Watch this spring, my money is that he does so well that the decision to keep him becomes obvious.

Posted by oregongal

6:26 PM, Mar 01, 2008

AKMariner'sFan, you're a brave guy to admit it! :)

Seriously, as much as I've complained about him on here, I really do wish him the best. He seems like a nice young man, and I blame his problems last year on a coaching staff that kept putting him out there when it was clear there were problems. Hopefully he can start with a clean slate this year and make us all happy.

I still want the knuckleballer on the team, though, just for my own amusement.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

6:47 PM, Mar 01, 2008

Just a reminder for anyone who gets too worked up about anyone's stats in spring training, whether it's bemoaning Bedard, championing Tug Hulett, or anything in between: last year, Willie Bloomquist finished Spring Training with a .400 average.

Posted by oregongal

7:43 PM, Mar 01, 2008

True enough, Chris, but this is my practice at being optimistic. Spring Training I get to completely discount anything I don't like and just enjoy the stuff I do. You know, try to see what life is like when I'm not a whiny pessimist who really hates the Mariners. ;)

Posted by Adam

7:44 PM, Mar 01, 2008

I've got a $100 that says Hulett doesn't make the team. Any takers?

Posted by James from Walla Walla

9:24 PM, Mar 01, 2008

Yah Adam,

But you gota like his play so far!!

Lopez falters at all look out!!

What are your odds on Morse and on Balentien to
make the team out of ST??

Posted by scottM

10:24 PM, Mar 01, 2008

Spring Training Predictions:

Morse will make the team, Balentien will go back to Tacoma and Reed will be traded for a minor league power hitter to stockpile. This is Morse's last chance, while the team can preserve Balentien in minors. If Reed has no realistic chance to make the team (per McLaren), then why not trade him for a real future need? (On Reed, maybe that's too logical.)

Vidro's is our DH. There will be no one else this year. No trade, no upgrade, nada. Vidro's our guy. Why? They're paying him $8mil.

HoRam will be long relief and OregonGal's favorite insurance policy if any of the SPs get hurt. Why? They're paying him $3mil.

Wilkeron will start in RF unless injured. Why? They're paying him $3mil.

Sexson will have to bat half of the Mendoza line (.100) to be benched. The Mendoza line wasn't bad enough last year to help him find the pines, so why any difference in 2008? They're paying him $15 million to play, not to sit.

Ibanez will be in LF, not the DH or 1st baseman platoon. Why? They're paying him $6 million (?).

Clement and Johnson will go back to AAA, because they can still be insurance policies for Joh and Burke. Why? Management would rather have them play than rot behind Joh who isn't ready for platooning.

Willy and Cairo will be the powerlite speedsters off the bench. (Tug Hulet and Jimiņez and all the rest will be stockpiled).

Follow the money, follow what McLaren has already stated publicly, and follow the notion of who can be stockpiled in AAA, and it's looking pretty obvious that there won't be any big surprises out of Spring Training. The Bullpen choices are a bit interesting, but who we keep will depend a great deal on who has best healed over the winter: Lowe, Rhodes, especially.

Posted by oregongal

10:34 PM, Mar 01, 2008

Makes perfect sense, Scott. I'd be shocked if Spring Training changes Mac's mind about anyone, other than injuries.

Posted by Merrill

12:04 AM, Mar 02, 2008

Yeah, Scott, unfortunately, I have to agree with Oregongal, that does make sense. I wish HoRam well, too, but I'd like to see'em keep Baek and Dickey instead.

NewM'sFan, welcome; I read Kelley's feature on your cousin, and your attitude toward him as a player certainly seems warranted by his play. Gotta love ST!

Forgive me, folks, but being time-zone challenged, I'd like to answer the last few posts from yesterday's fun thread. Fair warning.

Just to lead off, I really enjoy a good argument with no hard feelings all around, so I hope that's what we had yesterday. As Big Rock said yesterday at the end of it, "How silly." Exactly! It was good fun for me, and I hope for you guys as well.

Posted by downinthegroove
12:25 PM, Mar 01, 2008:
That's great for students and I am glad you are trying to do something as a teacher. But, I am neither your student nor needing a teacher to tell me what I should ask or think. That time has come and gone. But honestly...Who cares?

The point is there are going to be questions whether or not you deem them stupid that Mac is going to have to answer. If he cannot hold his composure now then what are we going to get in stressful times.

Downie, sorry if my pomposity gave you the impression I was trying to lecture you. Occupational hazard... Plus I tend to be a pompous Arsenal anyway... I was talking about my students as an analogy to my presumption that Mac and Bedard were reacting to a long, drawn-out series of dumb questions.

You make a good point in your second paragraph. Time will tell. It'll be an interesting ride, that's for sure.

Posted by Bum Knee McGee
12:36 PM, Mar 01, 2008
Merrill, the best advice I've ever received in my life came from a teacher. He said: "Never ASSUME Anything"!

Bum Knee (nice handle!), and Downie, too, yeah, I teach young kids, so really, it's a different deal than teaching older kids who are trying but don't understand, and afraid to look stupid by asking a question.

Yes, in that case, there are no dumb questions and it's not a stupid cliche. But in the case of spoiled rich kids who can't be asked to do anything so demeaning as work or think (or reporters in a press conference--not including you, here, Jose, I didn't think your question was dumb), I'm trying to change their mental approach to life and learning, develop some habits of self-reliance--as well as self-confidence.

Actually my kids aren't so bad, and their parents support this general idea by paying extra money to study in an English-language program; it's the older kids I've taught part-time here and over in Cambodia that I've had to really ease off the throttle on. Those parents are not so supportive... They pay lip service to the idea, but if their little princes and princesses don't like actually being made to work and learn (heaven forbid!), I'm out of a job.

So I guess I'm a bit annoyed in general at those parents, and it can come out in strange ways.

Posted by diderot
2:24 PM, Mar 01, 2008
Merrill,
In case you're checking this when you wake up, believe me, I have LONG since passed the time of physical means to settle disagreements.
On the 'Sox' issue, while I agree with you from a purely grammatical standpoint, having grown up surrounded by White Sox fans in Chicago, I can at least attest that colloquially, and individual player on the south side has always been a 'White Sox'.


OK, Diderot, I accede to your greater experience. My experience has been with national announcers, not the local culture, which is obviously more genuine.

Posted by Rumblewolf
3:06 PM, Mar 01, 2008
I love it when remedial baseball nerds try to act intellectual. Some dufus, supra, referred to the press as the "Third Estate." That was bad enough, but worse is the fact that no one had the intelligence to recognize the error, or they surely would have pointed it out, as they always do. A couple of guys in here fancy themselves grammaticians, but they pose; it is best to leave such matters to the real experts, like me. Dig?

Busted! That pseudo-intellectual dufus was me! That's what I get for posting while drinking beer. On the grammar front, I am a professionally trained expert both in general grammar (exciting!) and in copy editing AP style (and writing--not that anyone can tell!), but there's always more to learn. I'm pretty good at it, but I sadly lack perfection. Little kids are more fun to teach, but this job doesn't exactly keep my grammar skills sharp...

I don't know enough to be a baseball nerd, but thanks anyway for the compliment.

Speaking of pseudo-intellectuals, it is a common mistake of the breed to confuse intellect/intelligence with knowledge and experience.

Welcome to the club!

Posted by oregongal

12:13 AM, Mar 02, 2008

Wow, I've been away from the Times site for a few days, and I didn't realize what I missed until I read your comment, Merrill. No need to go back and read previous days' comments, but I'm glad I popped over to the column on Tug. I wish him well, in all areas of his life.

Posted by Merrill

12:22 AM, Mar 02, 2008

Oops, meant to cut Downie's second paragraph out. That was him, not me.

Trained copy editor, indeed!

(I'm a big "Blood on the Tracks" fan. Never heard "Down in the Groove.")

Posted by downinthegroove

12:37 AM, Mar 02, 2008

It has a great track, "Ugliest Girl in the world"

Teaching is teaching. I teach and have taught but at 500mph and at 1000ft and am still stupid. We all need to do different things especially to hit the target or a baseball!

Irregardless accountability is critical.

I have more but am too tired. I am going to sleep and dream about how the M's will run out the same lineup year after year and still never progress. I will dream like all of the minor leaguers mired in the Seattle system that will never be given the opportunity...And I will snore.

Posted by Merrill

12:40 AM, Mar 02, 2008

Yeah, Oregongal, one of the things I enjoy most about spring training is reading about guys I don't know.

I wish Tug and his family the best.

My poor sister had to deal with the death of a loved one (in my stepfather's/her father's family, so it wasn't as bad for me) nearly every year she was growing up from ages 6-20 or so, capped by our mother's death from breast cancer. It was really hard on her when she was younger.

She's especially bitter about that last one, though, because a doctor made a mistake reading Mom's mammogram one year, and that's what killed her five years or so later.

I do worry about her and that bitterness...

Downie, I hope you have sweeter dreams than that. That last one is a recurring nightmare of mine, too...

Posted by Merrill

1:11 AM, Mar 02, 2008

Downie, I realize it's a little unfair of me to respond to an unfinished comment while you're sleeping, but:

I agree that accountability is critical. As an erstwhile member of the press myself, I take their responsibility pretty seriously. I don't like it, in spades, when they only show part of the picture in order to get at the story from a certain angle and then call it "news."

And, speaking of accountability, I think they should be called to account when they do that.

Anyway, I think you have a couple of good points (accountability and fuse-blowing at an early stage). I hope I've explained my reaction clearly.

And I hope Jose, as a member of the Fourth Estate, thinks about my comments rather than dismissing them out of hand.

Thanks, Jose, we all appreciate your efforts.

Posted by zusu

1:41 AM, Mar 02, 2008

Spot on, scottm - I think you called it 100%! I'm going to copy your post so I can check back at the end of ST and see how close you actually are. Speaking of projections, you might be interested in reading Dayn Perry's current article on the worst division in 2008. Regarding the Mariners and their upcoming season he has nothing good to say, and comes down in the middle of a somewhat backhanded compliment and a not so subtle slam.

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/7848380/No-division-as-bad-as-NL-Central-

Take it with a grain of salt...

Posted by Merrill

3:43 AM, Mar 02, 2008

Rumblewolf, I hereby dub thee "Rumplestiltschicken." You must of course use this moniker from now on.

Nyah nyah!

(It seems those darn kids are influencing me more than I them...)

Posted by Merrill

3:51 AM, Mar 02, 2008

Thanks, zusu...

Mr. Perry's yet another Pythagorean Lemming, living the unexamined life, following the crowd... Don't worry, people, the cliff is only 8 months away...

Posted by newm'sfan

6:42 AM, Mar 02, 2008

If you want to see a good interview on Tug go to fungoman.com. The link is on the homepage and you cant miss it.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

8:25 AM, Mar 02, 2008

Adam: Only $100? Pfft. That won't even buy me, my wife and my son seats in 100 infield. I suppose I could save it and use it for 2 of those 4-seats-4-dinners-50-buck midweek promo nights...

Actually, the real reason I wouldn't take that bet is that I'm sure Mac alread has his 25-man laid out in his head, and the only thing that'd change it is if a leftover piece of that shot-down satellite from the other day took out one of the position players. Says something when the only thing that could dislodge Vidro or HoRam is a space rock.

Posted by James from Walla Walla

9:45 AM, Mar 02, 2008

Jose,

I am trying to temper my excitment at the offensive output of the Mariners. It does my heart good to see the "Young Stars" performing so well. Especially, the way Mike Morse is handling himself. Also, a two homer day for Wladimir Balentien was spectacular. Maybe keeping Balentien instead of Jones was the right move.
If, this trend continues for the rest of ST?
I hope the Mariners would be willing to eat Vidro's salary. Letting Vidro and Cairo go and keeping Morse, Balentien, and Reed on the Roster would be the smartest play. Willie and Mike can back up the infield. Balentien and Reed can platoon and backup the outfield. Ibanez could
take over the DH role along with Norton. Thus,
improving our defense.

I am confident our pitching will be way above average. Let us make the right call for the
Mariner offense and defense!! The enthusiasm
of younger player doing well can rub off on the
veterans, in my humble opinion.

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