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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

March 13, 2009 at 1:15 PM

Dueling game threads! Mariners vs. Cubs, 3-13

Split squad, split blog. Check out the Mariners against the Diamondbacks on Geoff Bakers’ Mariners’ blog.

The Mariners are playing the Cubs here in Mesa. Manager Don Wakamatsu is here because he wants to look at some pitchers (starter Gaby Hernandez, Mark Lowe, David Aardsma, Tyler Walker and Shawn Kelley are all scheduled to throw today.

Originally, Brandon Morrow was supposed to make his return start here today against the Cubs, but Morrow (forearm tightness) still isn’t ready to pitch. Some mild good news on that front, however: Morrow played catch today and said he felt good. “I was just walking out with him today and he said it’s the best he’s felt,” Wakamatsu said earlier today. Morrow said that team doctor Edward Khalfayan examined him today and was surprised by his improvement.

However, Wakamatsu wasn’t exactly brimming with optimism about Morrow’s chances of being ready for the season. Morrow might throw a bullpen Saturday but indicated he could hold off until Monday.

“We’re back to square one,” Wakamatsu said. “Again, it depends on how we go forward. It’s going to be tough.”

Erik Bedard was scheduled to throw a bullpen session to test his sore butt muscle, but as far as I could tell, he didn’t. I’m not sure why yet.

Lineups:

Mariners

Chris Woodward 2B

Yuniesky Betancourt SS

Russell Branyon 1B

Wladimir Balentien CF

Jeff Clement C

Prentice Redman LF

Tyson Gillies RF

Oswaldo Navarro 3B

Gaby Hernandez RHP

CUBS

Alfonso Soriano LF

Sam Fuld CF

Derrek Lee 1B

Aramis Ramirez 3B

Mike Fontenot 2B

Reed Johnson RF

Koyle Hill C

Andres Blanco SS

Sean Marshall P

The Mariners got a single from Yuniesky Betancourt in the first but nothing else off Sean Marshall, who is battling ex-Mariner (very briefly) Aaron Heilman for the fifth starter’s job. Gaby Hernandez is on the mound for the Mariners.

Rough inning for Hernandez in the first. He walked two, gave up an two-out RBI single to Mike Fontenot on a 3-2 pitch, and uncorked a wild pitch to let a second run in.

UPDATE 1:50 P.M.: It’s still 2-0 Cubs heading to the bottom of the third. Oswaldo Navarro, who has already been reassigned to minor-league camp (and played in the last two Cactus League games) led off the top of the third with a single and was sacrificed to second by Hernandez, but Chris Woodward fanned (for the second time) and Betancourt flied out.

By the way,here’s Wakamatsu before the game on how the closer’s battle is shaping up. The signing of Cordero doesn’t take away from the reality that they need to decide on a closer before camp is through. Even in a best-case scenario, Cordero won’t be ready until mid-May, most likely.

“For me it’s really about where we started. No one’s really stood out. Guys are still trying to weed their way through it, mentally and physically. You’re going to see some guys put some pressure on themselves and then take it off. Similar to the Jeff Clement situation where I think he’s starting to settle back in to where he feels that he’s more comfortable. I think you’re going to see the same thing with the pitching.”

UPDATE 2 P.M. Hernandez gave up a home run in the third to Cubs’ center fielder Sam Fuld. It’s 3-0 Chicago.

UPDATE 2:10 P.M. Another home run off Hernandez, this one by the Cubs’ No. 8 hitter, Andres Blanco — with two outs and the pitcher on deck, no less. It’s 4-0 Cubs through four.

UPDATE 2:30: The Mariners finally got a run — unearned, thanks to a throwing error by Marshall. Navarro delivered an RBI single. It’s 4-1 Cubs.

The line on Hernandez: 4 ip, 4 h, 4 r, 4 er, 2 BB, 1 SO (two homers, one wild pitch).

Mark Lowe has entered the game in the bottom of the fifth.

UPDATE 2:55 P.M.: Lowe has run into trouble in his second inning of work and is out of the game. He walked two, threw two wild pitches, and gave up an RBI single before being replaced by Luis Munoz with no outs in the sixth.

UPDATE 3:05 PM. The line on Lowe: 1 inning (plus three batters), 2 h, 1 r, 1 er, 2 BB, 1 SO (two wild pitches).

UPDATE 3:30 P.M. Aardsma worked a 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout and has still not been scored upon in five innings this spring. Still 5-1 Cubs.

FINAL SCORE: 8-1 Cubs. Tyler Walker gave up four hits and three runs in 1/3 of an inning (granted, one of the hits came when the Mariners’ shortstop, Gabriel Norieaga, collided with the left-fielder, Daniel Carroll on a popup that should have been caught.

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