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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 11, 2008 3:56 PM

Hello and hola from Hi Corbett

Posted by Jose Romero

END GAME: Rockies 4, Mariners 1.

-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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Posted by Big Wil

1:22 PM, Mar 11, 2008

The sky is falling! I'm honestly glad Ichiro is "struggling" in spring training. Save those hits for the regular season. There's a better chance of Ichiro getting 300 hits this season than him getting less than 200. No worries! And can someone please tell me why Cairo has been practically given a backup job. Don't make me quote Pedro Martinez. Morse is a lock for this team. Add Willie and there's no need for Cairo. I'd rather have an extra arm in the pen. Also, judging by what I've read (every word written about the Mariners be it print or online) Dickey is on this squad too. I'm excited to have a knuckler to baffle people after Bedard/Felix's gas and then step up and make a spot start in a double header. Say no to Cairo! And if we only get 11 pitchers, HoRam can't be one of them. Welcome back Geoff, GO MARINERS!!!

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

1:36 PM, Mar 11, 2008

Ichiro is not the same player he was in 2001. His strikeouts have increased since then. Increase in strikeouts every year are a good indicator for showing a player's ability to read and recognize pitches or bat speed has declined. If I could include a pie graph and chart for the Ichiro fanatics I would. It's rational logic that players decline as they age. The last time I check Ichiro is human not superhuman. His arm gets tested more frequently now, and it's not the same since he threw out the Oakland runner at third a long long time ago, his speed has declined also. I'm being quite rational, it's the fanatics that are in a frenzy over Ichiro being criticized.

Posted by downinthegroove

1:51 PM, Mar 11, 2008

Nobody is the same player they were in 2001. They are six years older. That happens to the rest of us as well.

He is still a great player. Should he still be in Right? Yeah but that's what was dealt. Ichiro will be fine.

I mean who used to run on Vlad or Larry Walker? They all get a bit older. Seriously, six years ago compared to today?

He is still going to be elite and in the run for the batting title. If I remember he has never been a great hitter for the start of the year. He will come around.

If he is your biggest argument I recommend spending some time perusing the roster and looking at the real problems.

Posted by Mike

2:10 PM, Mar 11, 2008

Ichiro's OPS last year was actually higher than his ML career average. Players do decline around his age but you see more drop off in power hitters than more athletic guys like Ichiro. Plus Ichiro is in phenomenal shape. He's pretty unique. He is a huge organizational asset. On the list of issues the Ms should be addressing, he doesn't even show up.

Posted by Pete

2:16 PM, Mar 11, 2008

Seems Felix has hit his stride. Let's hope his momentum isn't ruined by a rinky-dink injury like it was last April.

Long live The King.

Posted by scrapiron

2:21 PM, Mar 11, 2008

Who's number 1 isn't relevant. What does matter is that Bedard and Felix push each other. Felix hasn't had anyone to compare to on the same staff, and neither has Bedard. Hopefully Felix saw Bedard's average outing yesterday and set out to do better today. That competition between the two could be extremely beneficial.

If you get a chance to talk to Felix today, ask him if he paid attention to Bedard's outing yesterday.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

2:30 PM, Mar 11, 2008

Jose - Have you seen Ichiro try to pull the ball or is he always going opposite field?

Is he showing signs of frustration?

Posted by Get Griffey

2:47 PM, Mar 11, 2008

On Ichiro, "Is he showing signs of frustration?" I would say NO.

When was the last time you saw him showing his frustration? Also I doubt he has ever shown it in spring training period.

To him this is all pre stretch and warm-up stuff.

Posted by scrapiron

3:01 PM, Mar 11, 2008

That's the second time this spring that Jimerson has stole second and third in the same game. The only other player on the roster capable of doing that is Ichiro.

Tough call of Morse vs. Jimerson. Loser gets released. I wish we could keep both and let Cairo go.

Posted by Mike

3:16 PM, Mar 11, 2008

Given that the Ms won't use Vidro as a bat off the bench they should probably keep Norton as well to add a lefty(if he's a righty please feel free to ignore me).

I'd keep 11 pitchers since Dickey can pitch a lot and then go with a bench of

Jimerson - or Reed

That's still not much of a bench.

Posted by Pete

3:25 PM, Mar 11, 2008

Hell yes!

If Felix has the two-seamer back, look out!!! That is the pitch he couldn't get back after his injury last year. He pretty much completely abandoned it due to its ineffectiveness for the rest of the season.

If it's back, The Kind is back.

Posted by newm'sfan

3:31 PM, Mar 11, 2008

If felix would not have pitched a gem for 4 innings plus this game would have been a blow out. I know its only spring training but why is King Felix ready and the rest of the staff acts like their senior citizens on a 6 month leave from cold weather homes? Not to mention the cold bats of most of the team. This has to alarm the mariners faithful that swear this team will have atleast 90 plus wins.
I hate to say this now but Felix, as young as he is, should be opening day starter and put Bedard for game two!!

Posted by Pete

3:45 PM, Mar 11, 2008

"...why is King Felix ready and the rest of the staff acts like their senior citizens..."

Ha! Well, there is a simple answer to that: Felix is the anointed King. His talent is unmatched by any of the other pitchers, even Bedard.

Thus it doesn't take much for him to get into form.

Seriously, where have you been?

Posted by newm'sfan

3:55 PM, Mar 11, 2008

hense the screen name "newm'sfan" I dont know a whole lot about this squad other than the obvious names and the fact Tug Hulett is my cousin therefore I always root for familys teams.

Posted by Ziasudra

4:00 PM, Mar 11, 2008

True that Felix is the king, but I thought Beddard is an Ace.

Posted by bsstecks

4:05 PM, Mar 11, 2008

"newm'sfan" - Tell Tug to keep pushing J-Lo...I'll take whichever of the two they want to give 2B too out of spring will be J-Lo though. But I'm actually pulling for a 2B named Tug.

Posted by newm'sfan

4:15 PM, Mar 11, 2008

Im pulling for him too! but unfortunately its not looking very good right now. Mclaren has his mind made up I think, plus Tug has only had one at bat since the first 4 or 5 games. What erks me the most is he was 5-9 in those games and now is 5-10 which gives him a .500 ba in spring and is not getting any playing time!!! while lopez, cairo, and bumquist keep choking with men on base and obp!!

Posted by Mariner's Fan in Hawaii

4:24 PM, Mar 11, 2008

I do love the Ichi-Watch going on. I don't think the M's have had this many personalities in camp since the days of Bone, Junior EdGAR and RJ. No matter what you have got to admit...these guys will be fun to watch this year.

On another note who would have ever thought that Ichiro would be a better interview than Bedard.

Posted by harry

4:27 PM, Mar 11, 2008

Why is everybody playing like senior citizens? Because they aren't required to show anything here in spring training(or the regular season for that matter) and so there is no sense of urgency. Since everybody is given a job, they have no reason to how up until they are absolutely pushed into a corner, but that isn't until seasons of poor performance. Does anyone really think that no matter how bad he does that a guy like Sexson will ever get sat? Or a guy like Cairo ever get cut? Doesn't look like it will happen anytime soon. You have to make guys earn their keep and deserve their jobs. Competition makes people better, hand outs and give aways make people lazy or "business like" in Mariner talk.

Posted by newm'sfan

4:41 PM, Mar 11, 2008

I couldn't agree more. I have never seen such lax management. Maybe Mclaren doesn't want to make any enemies in his first season as manager.

Posted by DrLo

4:55 PM, Mar 11, 2008

Mike is absolutely correct in his OPS+ comment on Ichiro. Taking it a step further, Ichiro was at, or above, his career season averages in most all offensive categories in 2007. The only negative -- as was pointed out -- is an increase in strikeouts, but these are creeping upward over time and not growing by leaps and bounds. As for speed, 111 runs and an improving SB percentage would argue against his having lost much. Or if he has, the key point is that the stats would argue that he seems to be finding ways to otherwise compensate, both on the bases and at bat.

As for number one starter, let's not get carried away with ST results less than half-way in. Bedard, by virtue of his past two seasons and especially his dominance, deserves the number one. Felix might well have the better season in 2008, and he has the tools to do so, but he hasn't shown it with any consistency to date. Presuming health, they will end up with the same number of starts and will likely have roughly the same number against the opponents' number one starters.

I think Bedard's position with reporters is wonderful. Instead of fielding a plethora of poorly-considered questions, by limiting the number he requires the press to actually think carefully about what they are asking, and how they are asking it. What is wrong with that? A good reporter, one who presumably can craft meaningful questioins with some care, should be thrilled to be able to get his/her job done quickly and efficiently without having to hang in through mind-numbing stupidity that so often surrounds such interviews.

Posted by ness

5:52 PM, Mar 11, 2008

I know what you're saying about the sun, Geoff... it was brutal out in the third-base bleachers.

Also, I think Felix was originally supposed to go 4 innings, because RRS was up in the late fourth inning briefly, then sat back down for a while. That's how dominant King Felix was.

Posted by zusu

6:48 PM, Mar 11, 2008

Regarding Ichiro's "hitless streak:" he's getting a lot of enjoyment out of it. Read what he has to say. It really made me laugh!

This should hopefully lessen the alarm that a few of you are feeling.

Posted by xxx

9:12 PM, Mar 11, 2008

xxx test

Posted by DrLo

9:38 PM, Mar 11, 2008

Geoff, Jose, or anyone who has actually seen the ST games....

Just curious to know if any of the hitters have made any significant changes to their stance or positioning this off-season -- shortened/lengthened strides, changed hand position, shortened swings, and such. One would hope that possibly Sexson would have changed his approach a bit at least to shorten up.

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