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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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April 21, 2009 5:13 PM

Wakamatsu wants improved focus all around

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Don't forget Geoff Baker Live! coming up at 6 p.m.

A look above at Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu getting some early season tips from Tampa Bay counterpart Joe Maddon. Wakamatsu was asked about Yuniesky Betancourt in today's pre-game scrum with reporters, but instead shifted the conversation towards his team as a whole. Wakamatsu says the entire team has to show improved focus from the beginning to the end of a game.

Betancourt is back in there at shortstop tonight, fresh off that two-error game on Sunday against the Tigers.

Wakamatsu had his squad out doing pitcher's fielding practice -- and his infielders doing some work as well. But Wakamatsu said that was strictly to go over routine plays and not the result of anything that happened the past few days.

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"It's very important to get out there and work on the things that are going to make you successful,'' he said. "We keep talking about pitching, but more importantly, defense.''

Wakamatsu was asked about the team's lack of walks and low on-base-percentage. He admitted that it's been a struggle at times, but that it's also a fine line in not wanting his more aggressive hitters to lose some of their edge by taking too many first-pitch strikes. instead, the team is asking hitters to be more selective when the count is in their favor.

"We've talked about certain situations, certain counts they could be more patient in,'' he said.

Russell Branyan is still day-to-day with that sore lower back.

I caught up with Ryan Rowland-Smith before the game and he was not in great spirits. It turns out that Rowland-Smith has not thrown a baseball all week since that flareup of triceps tendonitis after he threw on the side before the team's home opener.

"I'm miserable, to be quite honest with you,'' he said, "I've never been huirt like this before, where I have to sit around and can't do anything.''

Rowland-Smith was waiting to see the team's medical director, Dr. Edward Khalfayan, at some point before tonight's game. Khalfayan was on his way to the park to meet with Rowland-Smith, who has yet to have an MRI or anything like that done on his arm.

"I just want to talk to him about it and see what he says,'' Rowland-Smith said. "Because it doesn't seem like it's getting any better.

"I mean, it feels better than when it first happened, but I haven't been throwing and it still feels aggravated. So, I just want to see what he (Khalfayan) says about it. I'm anxious to hear what he has to say.''

I'd say it's highly unlikely that Rowland Smith will come off the DL on April 26 as scheduled. Chris Jakubauskas likely gets at least two more starts, if not three.

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