Before we get on with the game, big news out of Angels camp today. It seems that pitcher Kelvim Escobar has a tear in his shoulder that will likely require season-ending surgery. Escobar is even talking about retirement. A waste of a fine pitcher and potential Cy Young winner down the road. But for Mariners fans, this is indeed huge news. Could anyone see this coming? Well, maybe not the retirement part. But this is a lingering problem he’s had dating back to last August when I chatted with him at Safeco Field. I don’t know many folks down here who truly expected him to be back in May. That’s the thing with arm injuries and pitchers. You just never know how much of a season they are going to mess up until the mess starts happening. Happening big-time for the Angels right now.
Bad day all around for the Angels, with news that Preston Gomez, special assistant to the GM and a longtime figure in baseball, was hit by a pickup truck at a gas station and is in very bad shape in a hospital.
Ryan Feierabend just got optioned out to Class AAA Tacoma. No surprise there. He has to work on becoming a starter.
3:08 p.m.: Just got back with the other reporters from interviewing Erik Bedard, who looked a little perplexed about today’s outing. Said he wasn’t. But didn’t seem in the best of moods. Gave up four runs over six innings. Said he felt no “responsibility” towards his new team and that he wasn’t looking at Monday’s opener any different. Didn’t know if he threw fewer curveballs this spring. Didn’t know if he was going to join the team in Las Vegas, or go on back to Seattle ahead of his start.
He has the next five days to figure it all out. Was this spring impressive? No, it was terrible. Every swing at a pitch he threw seemed to travel 400 feet in the other direction. Let’s hope it’s the Arizona air, at least in you’re an M’s fan. I’ve been writing for days that I believe this to be the case. If I’m wrong, though, wow. Never really thought about this much before today. But Bedard just did not seem to believe the shrugs and the “it doesn’t matter” words he was sending our way. Could be he is starting to feel some pressure.
“I don’t know,” he said, when asked how he turns around the results once the games start to count. “We’ll see when the game starts. I’ll figure it out as we go.”
We’ll know more when the regular season begins. Today, he gave up two homers (the inside-the-parker was a blast), a triple, three doubles and the four runs. If all those extra-base hits start dying on the Safeco Field warning track, everything will be OK. If not…well, like I said, that’s why they play the games.
Carlos Triunfel just collected a sacrifice fly to center in the eighth after the M’s scored a pair in the seventh as well while we were down talking to Bedard. The Royals got one back in the bottom of the seventh on a Jason Smith home run (his second of the game) off Cha Seung Baek. It’s now 8-5 for Seattle, bottom of the eighth.
2:53 p.m.: A great play by Carlos Triunfel to start off the bottom of the sixth. A grounder that appeared headed up the middle struck the second base bag. Triunfel had been ranging to his left, snagged the ball and then fired a cannon blast throw to first base to nab the runner. Very nice for a guy who just turned 18. Erik Bedard then gave up a triple off the wall in center that Willie Bloomquist again couldn’t come up with. But Bedard pitched out of it on a couple of groundouts. The first one, to third baseman Mike Morse, saw the M’s hopeful do a nice job of snaring the hard shot and then looking the runner back to third.
2:36 p.m.: A 1-2-3 fifth inning for Erik Bedard, not exactly a routine event this spring. Unfortunately for the M’s, they also went in order in the sixth. Bedard is still on the mound in the bottom of the sixth. And look who’s at shortstop now. Carlos Triunfel.
2:19 p.m.: No home runs allowed by Erik Bedard in the fourth inning, but he did yield a leadoff double to deep center by Bill Butler. He advanced to third on a groundout, then scored on a grounder to the right side by Ross Gload. Mariners still ahead, 5-4.
1:58 p.m.: Jeremy Reed doubled home Richie Sexson in the third inning to make it a 5-3 game. Some hard baserunning by Sexson on that play. It was touch-and-go as to whether the ball was going to be caught, but he read it well. For those keeping track of Bedard’s home run numbers, it’s now nine long balls given up in 20 innings.
1:44 p.m.: Now that was the Erik Bedard we’ve seen all spring long. Gave up two homers in the second inning, only one of them actually leaving the park though. A leadoff walk to Billy Butler was followed by a homer to right center by Miguel Olivo. Yes, that Miguel Olivo. After a lineout to center, Jason Smith then hit a flyball that Willie Bloomquist probably should have gotten to. But he didn’t. The ball drifted over his head and before you could say “inside the park home run” Smith was already around the bases. Now a 4-3 game. Bedard will be happy to leave Arizona, I’m sure.
1:32 p.m.: That was the Erik Bedard fans have expected to see all spring. Struck out Joey Gathright and Mark Grudzielanek to lead off the game. Jeremy Reed then had some trouble in left on a Mark Teahen flyball that became a double. But Reed looked good right after that, diving for a sinking liner to left by Jose Guillen and coming up with the catch. A scoreless inning for Bedard. Hasn’t happened too often this spring.
1:21 p.m.: A four-spot by the Mariners to open the game up off former M’s hurler Gil Meche. Singles by Willie Bloomquist and Jose Lopez (likely the team’s No. 2 hitter to open the season) and then a double by Jose Vidro. No joke, a double. Looked like the ball was out when it left his bat. Then it died on the warning track, but since the outfielders had been playing Vidro at womens’ softball depth, they couldn’t catch up to it and it fell in. Richie Sexson then hit a groundout for one RBI and Brad Wilkerson a sacrifice fly to center. Kenji Johjima then doubled to right and scored when shortstop Tony Pena Jr. let a Jeremy Reed grounder go through his legs.
Speaking of Reed, I keep hearing his name mentioned in several trade rumors. Latest today was that Tampa Bay might be interested. They have some back-end pitching they could shed from their rotation. Remember Edwin Jackson?
Mike Morse added a single that inning, executing a nice hit-and-run with Reed.
So, it’s 4-0 with Erik Bedard taking the mound in the first.
16 Willie Bloomquist LF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
3 Joes Vidro (S) DH
44 Richie Sexson 1B
6 Brad Wilkerson (L) RF
2 Kenji Johjima C
8 Jeremy Reed (L) CF
12 Mike Morse 3B
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
45 Erik Bedard LHP
Kansas City Royals (15-11):
2 Joey Gathright CF
15 Mark Grudzielanek 2B
24 Mark Teahen LF
11 Jose Guillen RF
16 Billy Butler DH
21 Miguel Olivo C
7 Ross Gload 1B
26 Jason Smith 3B
1 Tony Pena, Jr. SS
55 Gil Meche RHP