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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 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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Posted by oregongal

1:21 PM, Mar 08, 2008

Sure hope Beltre can go into the season with the thumb healed.

I'm starting to think it would be kinda cool to have Ichiro go hitless through all of ST, then end up with a .400 BA for the season. You know, just for something different.

Good luck, Lowe.

Posted by newm'sfan

3:03 PM, Mar 08, 2008

I can tell you what happened in the a's half of the eigth inning. A catcher by the name of Justin Knoedler hit a triple wit the bags full. I played against him growing up in Springfield, Illinois and he can flat out hit and he has a cannon behind the plate. The way this game looks the m's could have used some extra bp in this one!!

Posted by Bum Knee McGee

4:47 PM, Mar 08, 2008

Oregongal, that would be awesome wouldn't it? He could be experimenting a bit right now since Mac basically challenged him to hit .400. It amazes me that this has generated so much attention. Nobody needs to worry about Ichiro. When the regular season arrives he will be just fine. The guy could hit .290 blindfolded!

Posted by Chris from Bothell

5:56 PM, Mar 08, 2008

Oregongal - Yep. Not to sound like a homer, but I really do think Ichiro is about the only one who could break .400, in the game today. Been waiting for him to do it for a good 3 or 4 years.

What will be even more incredible is the effort he will put in to convert to a 25-30 hr kind of guy, when his legs finally slow down and he can't rely on infield singles anymore.

Posted by Dignan

7:39 PM, Mar 08, 2008

Ichiro would hit .400 if he took some walks instead of grounding out on pitches out of the zone that only he can hit.

Posted by Batter Up!!!

8:01 PM, Mar 08, 2008

Dignan.... Excellent point! Ichiro could well be the point of Mac's memo on having a look at the ball. Obviously the man can put the bat on the ball better than most anyone in the game. The idea of leadoff batter is to get on base. A walk is OK & Ichiro could have as many walks as he wants. If he would show patience and make them put the ball in the zone his avg. could go well beyond .400. It's OK to walk... even if you are a vet.

Posted by John

9:54 PM, Mar 08, 2008

Complaining about how Ichiro hits is like complaining about how Picasso paints. We may wish he did some things different, but to whimper about one of the greatest pure hitters of the last 50 years isn't worth the time.

Posted by Merrill

1:21 AM, Mar 09, 2008

BLT, just to clarify on the LHP front, after thinking about it, I realized you must have been talking about three or four on the whole staff. I was talking about one or two in the bullpen.


But I don't think 2 lefty SPs and 2 lefty RPs is a big deal. I like having 2 lefties out of the 'pen...

Posted by California Bob Kelly

9:58 AM, Mar 09, 2008

With all due respect to John, there is no such thing as a pure hitter, unless you believe, the movie,"The Natural" is non-fiction. The greatest hitters of all time like the great Ted Williams, Aaron, Mays, Rose, Gwynn all practiced hour upon hour working on hitting. If Ichiro is to be considered in their class, mixing in walk when a leadoff batter is needed to start a rally when your team is behind is thinking of the team, not your number of 200 hit seasons, first. All of the afore mentioned batters worked the count, took a walk rather than swing at a first pitch most of the time, and all of them, are superior to Ichiro in OBP, slugging %, BB, and extra basehits. Ichiro is a great hitter, but he would tell John that his father's hours of work instilled the eye-hand coordination to hit a baseball...he was not born with that skill.

Posted by John

10:37 AM, Mar 09, 2008

Being a pure hitter doesn't mean that you were born with it. Being a pure hitter doesn't even mean that you couldn't be more helpful to your team by walking more (which Ichiro could) or singing different songs in the shower, or whatever.
When I say "pure hitter" I'm simply talking about the ability to put the bat on the ball, and in Ichiro's case, get on base - a lot. It's not his fault he's fast and that helps.
Compared to others who have played the game at the highest level, I believe Ichiro is one of the greatest "pure hitters" who has ever played. It has nothing to do with being a "natural." The fact that he's one of the youngest in history to 3,000 hits (in Japan and U.S.) obviously shows that.

To gripe about someone like Ichiro because he could be doing something better ... it just doesn't make any sense.

ARod ... for all his great numbers ... can be a cancer on a team and still hasn't shown he can hit in the clutch.
Ortiz ... great, great hitter ... slower than glue. Does that mean you wouldn't want him on your team?
Bonds ... pounds the ball ... juiced and a jerk.

There are guys out there who do everything pretty well, and even have good attitudes. Those guys are gold.

But almost every "great" player I can think of has an Achilles heel of some sort. But when they do something great - like Ichiro does - just be thankful and move on.

Posted by scottM

12:03 PM, Mar 09, 2008

John, when you mention the "cancerous" side attributes of Bonds and A-rod, it reminds me how M's fans too often take for granted what a true and positive talent we have in Ichiro. I guess we can scrutinize the word "pure" hitter until it means someone who bats 1000 and every hit is a home run, but most of us here know what you mean about Ichiro being among the elite of the elite as a contact hitter.

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