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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 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.

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"I was happy with keeping those guys on second and third and walking off the field after the third out,'' Lowe, talking to us above, said of stranding the two Chicago runners.

Lowe said his velocity was the same as it had been the previous day, up around 93 m.p.h. That isn't easy to do, he added, when you're throwing on a second consecutive day.

"You really have to be strong mentally,'' he said. "You don't feel the same as you did the day before.''

Hear some more of Lowe in this audio clip.

"He had bad location, but as far as velocity and his stuff, he was fine and I was glad to see that,'' Mariners manager McLaren said of Lowe.

Hear more of McLaren right here as he talks about Lowe and O'Flaherty, who got drilled on his bare pitching hand while trying to snag a comebacker in the ninth. Caused a bit of a stir, but he's fine. McLaren also explained why Chris Reitsma didn't pitch today. Apparently, there was some rejigging of pitcher schedules, but Reitsma will go back-to-back.

How did Washburn throw so effectively? Part of the reason was, he woke up yesterday morning with a stiff back. it still hurt him today, which meant he couldn't overthrow or do anything too hard that might wrench it.

"I'm hard-headed and I get real excited and emotional during games and I have a lot of adrenalin,'' Washburn said. "Sometimes it's hard to hold me back. Today's a perfect example of why I have to. My back hurt like crazy today, I could barely move, so I couldn't throw hard, I couldn't jump off the mound. I just stayed fluid and stayed within my mechanics and concentrated on trying to throw a quality pitch.''

So, hurting your back is all it takes, huh? Maybe Washburn and Miguel Batista are on to something? Maybe not.

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Posted by QADavis

5:28 PM, Mar 24, 2008

Lowe got hit as long as he threw his fastball. Once he started changing speeds he was much more effective. It has nothing to do with back to back. It is the difference between throwing and pitching. All young guys have to learn this.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

7:02 PM, Mar 24, 2008

Before Lowe was abused his fastball was nearly unhittable in the high 90's and with wicked movement. This isn't good to hear if his fastball is consistently hit.

Posted by scottM

7:21 PM, Mar 24, 2008

Which brings up a good point, Resin, about how many pitchers we should carry in the BP. If we're stocked with young arms, then we should carry 12 not 11. It's indeed a shame the way Hargrove overused Lowe. In one game against the Orioles two summers ago, the Camden Yard radar gun clocked him at
102 mph, according to Niehaus during that broadcast.

Posted by Batter Up!!!

8:27 PM, Mar 24, 2008

Listened to the game on the radio today and they sounded like they maybe getting their game face on. Washburn sounded like he could have gone much deeper. Lowe showed game and the strikeout by Eric was excellent!

Hargrove........ Who let that guy on the field this spring? Bill? Mac? Did he have permission from wifey? Get in your little red truck Grover and get out of Dodge! Never in the history of the game has anyone left a team like that..... Pls correct me if I'm wrong.... And he wants to talk about coming back. Not in our House..........

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

9:42 PM, Mar 24, 2008

"I told you all coming into camp that when we made the Adam Jones trade, a lot of our people thought [Balentien] had a higher ceiling than Adam," McLaren said. "With that said, he's going to go down there and play every day and keep working on his game.

This is to Adam. Now I hope you don't end up calling McLaren a liar just to benefit your argument, but McLaren pretty much substantiated what I stated a month ago regarding Balentien vs. Jones debate. There are scouts that have been saying Balentien is the better bat for awhile now. Just because your favorite Seattle blog insiders and sabermetricians say otherwise doesn't make McLaren or myself fibbers.

Posted by Adam

6:55 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Resin - You and the Mariners (if McLaren's comments are anything more than spin) are in the minority, and it's not even close. There's a reason the Orioles demanded Jones, rather than Balentien, and the Twins demanded Jones, rather than Balentien.

Jones is and will be the superior player. Even if Balentien ends up with a better bat, Jones will still be the better player.

It's a bit scary that some in the M's organization possibly consider Balentien to have a higher ceiling than Jones. Even if that is true, that doesn't speak well about the M's talent evaluators. Hopefully those folks are a minority in the M's organization.

Posted by Adam

7:17 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Looks like we have our own injury problems.

Hickey over at the PI is reporting today that Beltre has a wrist that needs surgery, but that Beltre will play through it.

Kudos to him for playing hurt, but this isn't good.

Posted by Mr. X

7:27 AM, Mar 25, 2008

"There's a reason the Orioles demanded Jones, rather than Balentien, and the Twins demanded Jones, rather than Balentien."

Might have something to do with the fact that Jones is a centerfielder. When Ichiro moved to center and blocked Jones to improve his chances at a higher contract (due to his below-average production for a right fielder), Jones' fate was sealed. To sum up, you can thank the selfish Ichiro for the eventual trade of the unprofessional Jones. Hopefully Balentien will turn into our most productive run producing right fielder since "The Bone" around mid-season when babyfat Wilkerson either flames out, or is moved to 1st base.

Posted by Adam

7:42 AM, Mar 25, 2008

X - do you even follow the Mariners?

Ichiro moved to CF per the team's request. In 2006, Jeremy Reed got hurt and Ichiro, per the team's request, moved to CF. Then, before the 2007 campaign, he agreed to stay in CF.

He didn't block Adam Jones. If the Mariners had any sort of baseball IQ, they would have put Jones in LF and given themselves 2/3 of an incredible defensive OF.

Unfortunately, saving their own rear ends got in the way. Ichiro had nothing to do with it.

Posted by scrapiron

8:25 AM, Mar 25, 2008

The reason that Baltimore wanted Jones over Balentien is because Jones is more developed. Jones is starting for the Orioles opening day, Balentien is in Tacoma.

Long term, Balentien has more power potential than Jones. Jones will always have more speed, thus he is the "five-tool" prospect, where Balentien is not. Jones is better defensively than Balentien, but that can be coached.

Balentien will probably be ready mid-season in Seattle, but won't blossum until 2009. You will see Jones blossum this season.

Posted by Donovan

8:54 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Not trying to throw a hand grenade into a crowded room here, but people keep asking why the M's have Miguel Cairo on the roster. There is a story by Jose Miguel Romero in the Times today addressing this very question - from the team's perspective.

Posted by Mike

9:04 AM, Mar 25, 2008

If Cairo can guess so many pitches how come he's such a terrible hitter?

Posted by NB

9:14 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Ichiro hurts this team by playing wherever the team asks him to.

Posted by Get Griffey

9:14 AM, Mar 25, 2008

watch out man people hate the Cairo signing on this blog

About the article:
just goes to show that more should go into team management then stats.

not saying I want him on the team specifically but if he is there and can help Jose stay focused all season, and Yuni cut down on the wild throws, he could help this team to win allot, even if he never gets to play.

Free Morse

Posted by Get Griffey

9:18 AM, Mar 25, 2008

THAT is funny.

Before he was taking hits for NOT moving now he is taking them FOR agreeing to move??lol

Posted by Mike

9:26 AM, Mar 25, 2008

I would be fine with Cairo making the team if they then cut Bloomquist.

I think the Ms are crazy like a fox. You see, McLaren got so much grief last year for sticking with his struggling starters too long. This year our bench will have no one who can hit so there will be no call for benching anyone and therefore less criticism of McLaren.

Why did we let Broussard go again?

Posted by scrapiron

9:43 AM, Mar 25, 2008

How is 2008 Miguel Cairo different than 2007 Rey Ordonez? Ordonez was brought in to "push" Yuni, and they cut Rey Ordonez at the end of spring training last year to make room for Jason Ellison. Will they do the same move at the end of ST this year?

Posted by Bill

9:46 AM, Mar 25, 2008

keep Cairo, cut Bloomquist

Posted by Donovan

9:52 AM, Mar 25, 2008

One difference is that Cairo was signed to a ML deal. It is financially more difficult to cut him than it would have been Ordonez in 07 I think.

The main thrust of most rational criticisms of Cairo making the roster are concerned with the similarities between his strengths and weaknesses and those of Bloomquist. I have to agree with this assessment, especially if we go with a 7 man bullpen. I'd rather see Morse and Norton on the bench, with only one light hitting utility infielder.

Posted by jujay

9:56 AM, Mar 25, 2008

does Cairo play center field? that's the main advantage of bloomie i think

Posted by huindekmi

9:56 AM, Mar 25, 2008

The difference between Cairo (2008) and Ordonez (2007) is the contract. Rey Ordonez signed a minor league contract and came to camp as a NRI. Cairo has signed a guaranteed major league contract.

Granted, Cairo's contract is only for 850,000 plus incentives, but thats significant;y more than the M's had to pay Ordonez for his Spring Training tryout.

Posted by scrapiron

9:59 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Donovan - yeah, you're right. It's all about the benjamins. And now I read the article, and the only difference between Bloomquist and Cairo is that Cairo can help the young players predict pitches? That's nice, but not worth a roster spot.

So McLaren saw Cairo play winter ball and liked his attitude and recommended they sign him. At this stage of his career they should have just signed him as an infielders coach. Oh well. It's a done deal now, and they're going to lose Jimerson's speed because of it.

Posted by scrapiron

10:02 AM, Mar 25, 2008

It's looking like the Mariners are going to go with 12 pitchers on opening day. From everything I hear, that means that Greg Norton won't make the roster.

Since Norton was signed to a minor league deal, does that mean that he can be sent to Tacoma as injury insurance, or do we have to release him?

Posted by tim

10:18 AM, Mar 25, 2008

uh rofl, u think its a coincidence ichiro went to CF in a contract year? ROFL well i tell ya this, i got a bridge im willing to sell ya

Posted by Snowbound

10:22 AM, Mar 25, 2008

scrapiron, I believe Norton can be sent down, but there is a rule about "veterans" in whether they can accept it or not. I'm not sure what the actual rule is on that. Some of the veterans that sign minor league deals also have it written in to their agreement that if they aren't called up by a certain date they have to be traded or released.

I don't know the particulars of Norton's deal, but I would guess that he could be sent down.

Posted by Get Griffey

11:24 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Ichiro moved to CF in 06 was that really his cntract year?

Posted by scottM

12:22 PM, Mar 25, 2008

First, GEOFF, access to you as a reporter via this Blog and having your e-mail posted with the Times makes it easier than ever for those who feel strongly to contact you personally. It gives you a skewed perspective toward the negative knee jerk responses.

I know a RedSox fan who lives in Seattle that thinks Mariner fans are mostly ignorant. I do think that everywhere in sports, the fair weather fans dominate. A team wins, the fans show up. To that extent, the BoSox fan is right. However, when I lived in NY, I started following the Mets in '84. There were only 7 to 12 thousand fans coming out to each game. Then, by '86––the WS year––you couldn't get tickets. The support was only rabid, then.

As for the Seattle Sports fan, you need to take the long look. With only two exceptions (three if you count ex-Brooklyn wimp, Howard Schultz) the Seattle pro sports teams have been owned by interests who have lived outside of our state. The Sonics being poached by Clay Bennett is just the latest in a series of injustices. The Mariners and the Seahawks have both been a whisker away from being poached, too. Consequently, there is very little trust in this town that our sports ownership acts in the best interest of us as the fans.

I've been a Sonics fan since the beginning in 1966. When the Seahawks and Mariners were just beginning in the late '70s, the Sonics captivated this city. The support was rabid. The support after the 1979 championship was so high that LA owner Sam Schulman moved them from the Coliseum to the Kingdome, a wretched venue for the basketball. 35,000+ fans got to watch little ants playing below them. In other words, even when we won we were hosed by the owners. The refereeing in the 2005 Superbowl against the Steelers stole what should have been Seattle sports crowning moment. It was interesting how "invisible" the refereeing has been in the last two Superbowls. The teams actually decided the games. Imagine how NYC fans would have reacted to what happened to the Seahawks, if an invisible offensive holding call had been made on Eli's winning drive.

Hey, because of our history, we're jaded up here in the NW frontier of the professional sports world. Except for having a "third-world" chip on our shoulders, Seattle fans are not appreciably different from other City's fans. Don't take it personally, GEOFF, that, historically, we have gotten treated far worse by our owners than most other fans anywhere.

When Bedard and Felix play like Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, when Sexson and Vidro are replaced by Texierra and Griffey, when in 2009 we're in the World Series, the Seattle fans will then believe that this group of M's out-of-town owners and brass have learned how to really play hard ball for us, the fans.

For what it's worth, I am optimistic that the 2008 M's can win the AL West. I'm more optimistic of this team going all the way in 2009 with Griffey and Texierra (sp) on the squad.

As for the relevance of the Hockey, what's Erikkkk Bedard's favorite team? If it's Montreal, then you might have an "in" for your interview.

Posted by Big Ebu

1:29 PM, Mar 25, 2008


I believe you are right about Norton being sent down because he is a NRI. His contract may have a clause that allows him to be released from his contract if he doesn't make the 25 man roster.

I'm pretty sure you are also right in that there is a rule that players with more than 6 years of MLB service can refuse assignment to the Minor Leagues. But I'm not sure if this extends to a player that is signed to a Minor league contract as a NRI. I think it only applies to a player that is on the 40 man roster.

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