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March 10, 2009 at 1:40 PM

Mariners vs. Cubs, March 10

UPDATE, 2:15 P.M.: Miguel Batista just completed a very rocky inning. Replacing Garrett Olson with two on and no outs in the fourth, he gave up a long fly to Reed Johnson that moved up the runners. That was followed by a booming double by Doug Deeds for one run, a single by Koyie Hill and a two-run single by So Taguchi. Throw in a wild pitch, a walk, and a sacrifice fly, and it was pretty ugly. 5-0 Cubs.
Sorry, I got a little behind. That’s what happens when Lou Piniella holds court until 15 minutes before game time. The Cubs’ fine PR man, Jason Carr — who used to work for the Mariners — tried to tell Lou that the game was approaching. But he was in a great mood and wanted to keep talking to the small group of Seattle reporters, most of whom covered him during his Seattle stint. Piniella warmly greeted Ken Griffey Jr. when Griffey rode up in a golf cart. Their exchange was brief but pleasant. He also had a hug for former Cub Ronny Cedeno.
I’ll have more on Piniella later, after I transcribe my tape. And that will take awhile. One thing that amused me was his plans for the Cubs’ first full off-day tomorrow. He said that his wife, Anita, has given him two options — a ride in a hot-air balloon, or a plane flight to the Grand Canyon, followed by a helicoptor ride to the bottom, and a rafting trip on the Colorado River.
“I think I’ll do the hot-air balloon,” he said. “As long as they get me down before Juarez, I’ll be happy.”
By the way, the game is scoreless in the bottom of the third. Garrett Olson has pitched well for the Mariners, limiting the Cubs to two hits, one a blooper. Rich Harden is pitching for the Cubs,and he has allowed three hits so far — a double by Yuniesky Betancourt, and singles by Wladimir Balentien and Cedeno. He sawed off Griffey’s bat in the first, inducing a grounder to second.
Betancourt just tripled off the left-field wall in the bottom of the third, bringing up Griffey. And Griffey whiffed on a 1-2 pitch.
Josh Fields faced Griffey in a simulated game prior to the regular game — which was news to him. He also pitched against Mike Sweeney and Betancourt. It was his first game action of any sort since the College World Series in June,
“That was pretty cool,” Fields said. “I didn’t know who I’d be facing. Last week, I threw BP and it was just minor league guys. I had no idea. I just knew I was going to throw against hitters. I saw Sweeney and Yuni and Griffey. I was like, Wow, it’s going to be fun.”
Fields first pitch to Griffey was so wild that it eluded the catcher and went to the backstop. An amused Griffey told him to settle down.
“He was just messing around with me,” Fields said.
Fields continued to struggle with his control against Griffey, not giving him any pitches to hit in his three turns at the plate. He did better against Sweeney and Betancourt, including a curve for a strike against Sweeney. The veteran let Fields know, however, that he had tipped the pitch.
“I was just a little sometghing different when I came set,” Fields said. “Nothing too big. Nothing with the arm or anything. Just when I came set, a little hitch in there.
“It was actually really cool. I wondered if I’ve done that, even in college, and nobody ever said anything tome. I always assumed, I must be all right with it. It was good to hear something like that. It’s something I can keep working on.”



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