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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 4:22 PM

Maybe the Mariners should just decide their closer alphabetically….

…because David Aardsma (the first player alphabetically in baseball history, ahead of someone named Hank Aaron) has been the most impressive of the group.

He had another good outing Friday against the Cubs in an otherwise dismal 8-1 Seattle split-squad loss in Mesa. Aardsma worked a 1-2-3 seventh, with a strikeout, and remains unscored upon in six innings this spring.

“Really, the positive was Aardsma. OK, we done?” manager Don Wakamatsu joked after the game.

Could Aardsma, acquired from the Red Sox in a Jan. 20 trade for minor-leaguer Fabian Williamson, be making some headway in the closer’s battle? Two other candidates, Mark Lowe and Tyler Walker, struggled against the Cubs. Lowe walked two, had two wild pitches and gave up a hit in one-plus inning, while Walker lasted just 2/3 of an inning, giving up four hits and three runs (though the Mariners’ defense didn’t do him any favors).

“We’ll just continue to watch him pitch,” Wakamatsu said of Aardsma’s closer candidacy. “Those guys are going to determine that. He’s probably been the most consistent.”

A former No. 1 draft pick of the Giants, Aardsma seemed to blossom last year with the Red Sox until hit by a groin injury in the second half. He finished with a 5.55 ERA in 47 games.

“You’re talking about positives in camp, he’s one guy, we know his stuff,” Wakamatsu said. “I saw it first hand last year. He has good command, good tempo, keeps the ball down in the zone.

“I like his whole delivery a little bit better,” he added. “Everything looks tighter than it was last year. I don’t think his command was this good last year. The groin injury probably had an affect on that. I’m extremely pleased with what we’ve seen so far.

BEDARD UPDATE: He didn’t throw a bullpen session “but everything’s good,” Wakamatsu said. “He’s supposed to throw tomorrow, out of his mouth. The other two days were probably out of our mouths. Even the doctor said let’s not rush him. But everything today with him and Morrow was good.

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