Seattle scored seven runs the final two innings to blow out the San Diego Padres this afternoon by a 13-7 count. The Mariners scored a pair in the very first inning and kept producing at regular intervals, which was encouraging.
But the big story of the day was going to be the Cactus League debut of pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma and on that count, the Mariners still don’t know a whole lot about what they have in the Japanese free agent signing.
Iwakuma was supposed to go three innings, but was pulled after needing 35 pitches just to get out of the opening frame. The Padres scored an unearned run, but it could have been worse before Iwakuma shut them down with runners at the corners and one out.
The fielding behind him didn’t help, with errors by Dustin Ackley and Brendan Ryan to begin the game. But still, it was Iwakuma’s wild pitch that brought the unearned run home and then he had trouble with leaving hittable pitches up in the zone with two strikes on hitters.
Only his first outing, but then again, coming on top of that intrasquad affair last week in which he didn’t register a single out against six batters in his second inning of work, the Mariners don’t have all that much to go off of.
“The ball came out of his hand well,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said post-game. “We were hoping to send him back out there. He just threw too many pitches to take a chance on that early on in camp like this. He’ll be fine. He had some decent action on his pitches. He kind of came up a little bit and things started happening.”
Wedge keeps mentioning how it’s early in camp, which it is. But things will be coming earlier than usual this spring. The team leaves for Japan in fewer than three weeks and opens the season shortly after.
Iwakuma was a pitcher the team hoped would solidify the middle of the rotation after Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas. But right now, it’s tough for the Mariners to see what they’ve got in Iwakuma, who is coming off an arm injury in Japan last year.
“I don’t think we know just yet,” Wedge said. “We’ve seen some signs. He threw some good splitties today and threw some good, down fastballs. Had a little bit more action on the ball. Kind of like what we saw in that first inning of the intrasquad game. I think he’s a veteran guy and he’s working in the right direction. We’ll just have to keep sending him out there.”
George Sherrill walked one batter, but erased that on a double play in making his Cactus League debut today as well.
Sherrill says his sore left elbow is about “an eight” out of 10 on a scale of where he expects it will do best this year. Most of the soreness has now been replaced with stiffness in the elbow joint and Sherrill says he’s treating that with routine ice, electronic stimulation and some pressure treatments to the area.
On the hitting front today, Dustin Ackley went 3-for-3 out of the leadoff spot with a double and a triple.
Wedge said he’s still looking at Chone Figgins as the primary leadoff guy with Ackley looking like an aternative option on days Figgins can’t play. In all, though, Wedge said he sees Ackley as a better No. 2 option than leadoff because of his ability to drive balls to the gap and get the speedier leadoff types home.
Carlos Peguero went 2-for-5 on the day to up his spring average to .400 while Adam Moore hit a solo homer late.