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March 20, 2007 at 3:22 PM

Diamondbacks 8, Mariners 1, final score

A real wipeout here at Tucson Electric Park, though the Mariners had only Kenji Johjima, Willie Bloomquist and Ben Broussard as regulars. Oh, and that Weaver guy. No, it wasn’t a great day for Jeff Weaver. As we mentioned before, he fell behind early and often in counts. I just spoke to him moments ago and he told me he actually felt a little too strong out on the mound and as a result kept overthrowing.
That would be good news. Unlike earlier this spring, when Weaver’s new leg action — which allows him to power pitches with his legs rather than his shoulder — kept causing him to miss high in the strike zone. Today, at least, he kept missing low, so it doesn’t appear that he’s taken a step back mechanics-wise. We’ll give him a mulligan on this one and look for better results his next two outings.
That’s what Weaver says he plans on doing. He threw 81 pitches, by the way, over his four innings so he did get plenty of work in.
Weaver has given up four home runs already this spring. He couldn’t get his breaking ball over today, a common problem in the Arizona air.
The Mariners had said that lefty reliever Arthur Rhodes was going to pitch here today, a day after being bumped from a scheduled one-inning outing because of tightness in his elbow. Rhodes instead stayed behind to play catch with J.J. Putz in Peoria — at the same 100-foot distance, naturally — and both felt fine afterwards. They are scheduled to do the same tomorrow, still on flat ground. Mariners manager Mike Hargrove swore up and down to me on the field here that this is not a serious issue with Rhodes. At least, nowhere near as serious as the situation Putz had (funny, I thought the Putz issue wasn’t serious, but I digress).
Anyway, given the way Hargrove so emphatically emphasized that Rhodes isn’t seriously hurt, I’d tend to believe him until something else proves true. Remember, Rhodes is 37. He wouldn’t be the first guy to pull a “veteran move” and find a way out of this three-day trip to Tucson. With the team’s blessing, of course.
For all the handicapping we’ve been doing about guys like Brandon Morrow and Jon Huber heading north with the Mariners, another young reliever is having a very quietly effective spring. Mariners lefty Eric O’Flaherty logged two strikeouts in a scoreless seventh inning here and has allowed just two earned runs over seven Cactus League frames. O’Flaherty also has six strikeouts and has impressed the coaching staff with his improved strength over last season, when he appeared in 15 games as a late-season call-up, posting a 4.09 ERA.
In fact, if O’Flaherty keeps this up, he might be ticketed north.
“He’s done nothing to make us think that he can’t pitch in the big leagues and pitch effectively,” manager Hargrove said when I asked him about O’Flaherty’s big-league prospects come April.
By the way, Huber got tagged for two runs on three hits in the eighth inning here today, giving him a spring ERA of 9.00.
Nice to see Ben Broussard, my feature in today’s paper, go 3-for-3 today in another start in right field. Hopefully, the M’s don’t go out and do something foolish, like trade him for Armando Benitez. What a clubhouse mood swinger that would be! We’ll see.



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