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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 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.

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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.''

The key here is not to look at this as a case of the two pitchers merely being out until mid-May. When you miss that much time to start a season, there's no telling how long it's going to take to get that momentum back. Possibly until July. Perhaps not until 2009. Bartolo Colon missed a month before rejoining the Angels rotation last season and never really found his groove. Now, let's be clear. The conditioning of Lackey and Escobar is far superior to that of Colon. Their injuries are also not as serious as the one Colon required surgery for.

All that said, it's fairly clear the M's are about to be spotted a huge edge over the first third of the season.

Here's a gander at the Halos Heaven fan site. They have a post titled John Lackey Injury: Glass Half Full. We call that type of thinking whistling in the dark. But yes, losing their top two starters does allow the Angels to "play the kids". Lucky them. Go around their clubhouse and see if anyone's thrilled about that. The first responder to the post in their comments section, someone named shiftyeyedgoat, kind of captures the mood well.

Here's the take from Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports.

"Could this be a repeat of 2001, when the Mariners locked up the division with a 20-4 start? It's doubtful, because these M's aren't nearly as good. Still, the Mariners' opening day rotation currently looks much stronger than the Angels' -- an important consideration as (Angels GM Tony) Reagins ponders his next move.''

The Mariners are already out on the field, about a half-hour early today. There are thunderstorms expected in the area later and it's unclear whether they will be able to work out outdoors in a couple of hours. Today's game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Peoria Stadium is also in doubt.

Here's a look at the lineups, just in case they do play.

Brewers at Mariners


Milwaukee Brewers (12-6):

23 Rickie Weeks 2B
25 Mike Cameron CF
2 Bill Hall 3B
8 Ryan Braun LF
1 Cory Hart RF
13 Eric Munson 1B
7 J.J. Hardy SS
14 Gabe Gross DH
18 Jason Kendall C
----------------------------
15 Ben Sheets RHP

Additional Pitchers:
51 Brian Shouse LHP
73 Seth McClung RHP


Mariners (7-9-1):

51 Ichiro Suzuki CF
3 Jose Vidro DH
28 Raul Ibanez LF
44 Richie Sexson 1B
6 Brad Wilkerson RF
13 Miguel Cairo 3B
4 Jose Lopez 2B
15 Jamie Burke C
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
----------------------------
34 Felix Hernandez RHP

Other Pitchers:

20 J.J. Putz RHP
33 Chris Reitsma RHP
53 Arthur Rhodes LHP
57 Mark Lowe RHP
62 Cesar Jimenez LHP

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Above, you see coach Eddie Rodriguez hitting choppers to third baseman Adrian Beltre during batting practice.


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