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April 17, 2009 at 6:11 PM

Mariners pre-game notes

Chris Jakubauskas figures there will be a day when he’s less a novelty than a fixture. That day is down the road, but if he performs as he did Thursday night against the Angels, it will come.
“It was kind of fun getting those ‘firsts’ out of the way pretty quick,” he said Friday night before the opener of a three-game series with Detroit. “I’m trying to show I belong up here as a pitcher, not because I’m a good PR story.
“I want to prove I can pitch in this league for a long time. It goes with the territory. I’ll roll with it. Hopefully my pitching will take some of the focus.”
Jakubauskas, of course, has the irresistible story of having been signed by the M’s in 2007 after five long seasons playing the independent leagues.
Good stuff, but that goes away with you get to the hill, where Jakubauskas did well in his first major-league start, taking the M’s into the sixth inning with a 1-0 lead. He exited with that lead and one out, but the bullpen coughed it up and Seattle lost a 5-1 decision to the Angels.
The public may be smitten by Jakubauskas’ story, judging by e-mails that peppered the Times questioning why he was tagged with the loss in the game. He left with Chone Figgins on third and a runner on first, and although Roy Corcoran induced a grounder to third that resulted in an out on Figgins at the plate, the rulebook stipulates that the two runners remaining on base belong to Jakubauskas.
The 30-year-old righthander felt it should never have gotten that far. He nearly picked Figgins off first before the inning really began to percolate, and that might have kept the Angels off the scoreboard.
“I got asked earlier if I’d take anything back, and that would be the one thing,” Jakubauskas said. “I turned around, and I had him and kind of flicked it over [to first baseman Russell Branyan.] It ‘ran’ on Russ a little bit. I threw it to the wrong side of him.”
Jakubauskas said he spent Friday morning responding to 30-plus text messages he’d piled up during and after his start.
Manager Don Wakamatsu said some M’s relievers are progressing in their rehabilitation from arm problems.
Lefty Cesar Jimenez threw a 30-pitch simulated game Friday and is due another one Tuesday before an assignment in his return from biceps tendinitis.
Tyler Johnson, ex-Cardinal lefty who had rotator-cuff surgery almost a year ago, threw 38 pitches Thursday and will face extended-spring hitters in a game Monday.
And Chad Cordero, coming off labrum surgery last July, is due for a simulated game Monday.
In the Thursday-night loss to the Angels, Wladimir Balentien struck out on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded in the fourth, denying the M’s a possible cushion for Jakubauskas.
He looked somewhat anxious during the at-bat, and Wakamatsu said, “One of the things we stressed in spring training is not to get overly emotional because there are three guys on base. I don’t think he [Angels pitcher Joe Saunders] threw him a strike. Those are things for a young guy to continue to make improvements on.”
Wakamatsu said pitcher Jarrod Washburn, fighting through the flu the past couple of days, “is a little weak, but he’ll be fine.”
Wakamatsu hasn’t been shy about tinkering with his lineup.
“To me, [I’m watching] the same thing the fans are watching,” he said. “I want to see these guys play hard and do the things they can do.” Nothing that Seattle has hit well in the clutch, he said, “The biggest issue with us is, we need to get on base.”
The M’s entered the Tiger series with a tepid .318 on-base percentage.
Friday night was the first of five Mariners bobblehead nights, this featuring Ichiro. Asked if he had his yet, Wakamatsu smiled and said, “My grandparents called and said I’ve got to get one.”

Comments | Topics: Chone Figgins

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