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March 21, 2012 at 7:03 PM

Wrapping up the day — Mariners ready for Japan

The Mariners appeared to play like a team ready for the next step — tomorrow’s trip to Japan — in losing 13-8 to the White Sox today. Here’s the box score and here’s the recap.
Manager Eric Wedge didn’t disagree.
“Everybody is anxious and anticipating leaving tomorrow and we had a lot of meetings about Japan this morning, so we’ve got some normal human things going on today that I think you could expect with a very unusual set of circumstances coming our way,” he said. “So it’s time to get on a plane and go to Japan.”
Looking most out of sorts today was starter Felix Hernandez, who allowed 10 hits and eight runs, seven earned, in five innings. Wedge mostly just called it one of those things that happens sometimes in spring.
“He was just behind a little bit and then he had to come in and they were swinging the bats well today,” he said. “But we wanted to get him up over 90 pitches and we got him to (92) and that’s what we needed to. Get him a couple of bullpen (sessions) and he’ll be ready to go. … sometimes its good to get some of that stuff out of the way when you’re down here before it counts.”
As I wrote on the game blog, Hernandez said he didn’t really have an answer for what happened.
“I don’t know,” he said. “For real, I don’t know. … they hit everything I threw.”
If there was a problem, it was the common pitcher’s lament of leaving too many pitches up in the zone.
“They were looking for pitches up and I got behind in the count and when I threw the fastball they hit it,” he said.
Hernandez said he wasn’t distracted by this being a somewhat strange day here, with most of the focus on leaving for Japan tomorrow.
But he acknowledged that “it’s time to get serious.”
The offensive highlight was Ichiro’s 2-5, bringing his average to .400 for the spring, and his second homer of the spring (and also his second in two days).
“He’s had a great spring it looks like he’s seeing the ball well and hitting it with authority,” Wedge said. “And like we have talked about all along, we just want him to define that three hole how he sees fit, and that’s what he’s doing.”
The other big story of the day was the announcement before the game of the starting rotation to open the season. My story with some of the reaction of those involved is already posted.
The team will have to cut to a 30-man travel roster prior to leaving today (the players apparently already all know, but the list has not been made public yet). At the moment, there’s really only a couple of guys that involves. The release of Shawn Camp left Seattle at 38, and the apparent waiving of Cesar Jimenez would have Seattle at 37. Adam Moore and Franklin Gutierrez (each injured) are not going, nor is Kevin Millwood, who simply wouldn’t be needed to pitch. So that’s 34. And it’s pretty easy to figure that catchers Jesus Sucre and Guillermo Quiroz won’t be going. So that’d be 32.
The Mariners will then have to designate a 28-man active roster on March 28 that would include Millwood, even though he won’t be there, allowing him to be active for the games the first week of the season. Of that 28, the Mariners will then declare a 25-man roster for the two games against Oakland.
Millwood said he was not disappointed to miss the Japan trip, saying that since he wouldn’t pitch, there was no need for him to go and he’ll be fine staying in Arizona and getting his regular work in.
You can see more of Wedge’s post-game meeting with the media below in the video below.
With the Mariners leaving for Japan, that’s it for me on the blog for a while. I will say that my impression of the Mariners after watching falls in line with a lot of the others I’d read and heard before coming here — there’s a lot of young talent here, and what seems a clear direction now that has been missing in the past. There’s lots of question marks still. But I think this will be a team that is more fun to watch, and even if it eventually falls out of the race with significant games to go, will remain a team worth watching.

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