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March 27, 2007 at 2:30 PM

Putz throws; Ramirez gets pounded

Pulling double-duty here today, folks. It’s sunny, with a nasty wind in Peoria as Horacio Ramirez and the Mariners are getting smoked, 7-2, by the San Francisco Giants in the bottom of the sixth. It was actually 7-1 in the fourth inning, which tells you how bad things went for Seattle’s No. 4 starter, despite his six frames worked.
Before coming here, though, I slipped over to a minor-league game between Seattle and San Diego where Mariners closer J.J. Putz worked the first inning. Putz threw 15 pitches, about 13 of them fastballs, allowing a run on one hit — a wind-aided, leadoff double over the center fielder’s head — while striking out one. It wasn’t a dominating performance by Putz, but then again, it wasn’t supposed to be.
He didn’t land any first-pitch strikes and when he missed, it was up in the zone. But he didn’t get hit hard. The double likely would have been caught in normal wind conditions. Funny though, considering how the Mariners have downplayed this elbow strain for Putz, a lot of top brass were out on a side field here at the complex to watch him throw.
Manager Mike Hargrove even skipped the first two innings of the big-league game (good thing he did, though I’m sure he’ll get the full Ramirez lowdown) and said afterward he was relieved with what he saw from Putz.
“Just getting through it healthy was real important,” Hargrove said. “My stomach has finally turned right side up.”
Putz is to throw again on Friday in Las Vegas. He may also go again the following night, though Hargrove said it’s unlikely. That means Putz will have to start the year — and the plan now is to bring him north — without the benefit of having worked in back-to-back games.
“It’ll have to be enough,” Hargrove said. “It’s not ideal but…it is what it is. It has to be enough.”
Putz said he felt fine and threw three split-finger pitches — one of them striking out Jack Cust to end the inning — and two sliders. He figures his velocity will get amped-up a bit when he enters a regular season game and the adrenaline starts to flow.
As for the big-league game, Ramirez got out of the first inning OK, despite walking a batter. But he yielded hits to four of the firast five batters faced in the second inning, including doubles to Pedro Feliz and my name favorite, Eliezer Alfonzo, to fall behind 4-0. Ramirez then began the third inning by having Barry Bonds send the first pitch off the top of the wall in left center. Bonds would later score on a double play groundout to make it 5-0.
Jose Lopez doubled a run home in the third to get Seattle on the board, but the Giants then added two more in the fourth on an Alfonzo homer — his first of the spring — to deep center. Richie Sexson popped the ball up in all three at-bats he had, but the third one dropped into shallow center, popping out of the glove of a diving Dave Roberts. That gave Sexson an RBI, his eighth of the spring on just eight hits, only one of them for extra bases. Believe me, folks, that isn’t all that easy to do.



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