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March 26, 2012 at 7:25 AM

Mariners manager Eric Wedge says his team needs to regroup before season opener

There wasn’t much to like about this game from a Mariners standpoint, other than Dustin Ackley coming through with a home run to the opposite field in left and then a hard triple off the wall in right. Oh yeah, M’s fans can also like the fact Hisashi Iwakuma will be starting the year in the bullpen and not starting things off like he tried to do tonight in a 9-3 pasting by the Yomiuri Giants.
Wedge nows his team did not play good baseball here. The Mariners were outhit 15-5 tonight and outscored 14-4 by Yomiuri and Hanshin. If they were playing in the Nippon Professional Baseball League, they’d already be in trouble.
Good thing the real games don’t start until Wednesday.
“It’s a completely different atmosphere,” Wedge said. “A very different couple of days. But regardless, we didn’t play very good baseball. I think that was evident.”

Not much else to say if you’re Wedge. The Mariners have an off-day now, in which Wedge, Iwakuma and some others will be visiting Sendai, near where the hurricane and tsunami hit last year. We’ll be going there as well so stay tuned to the blog later in the day.
“I feel like it’s really important for us to have a buffer before opening day,” Wedge said. “To be able to come here and work out and just work out some of the kinks, have the discussions we need to have and get re-focused.”
Wedge added that his players have “played pretty good baseball all spring. I trust these guys. I trust in what they’re doing. I trust in their ability. When we turn that switch and get to opening day, I trust in us being ready to go.”
Wedge said the team is still counting on Iwakuma as a bullpen contributor. He added that the club is prepared to wait for Iwakuma over the long term to fully rebound from his shoulder issues of last year.
Iwakuma told us after the game that his shoulder feels fine, but he’d like his velocity to be up at least another one or two mph.
He also had some mechanical issues involving his elbow.
“I couldn’t keep my tempo,” he said. “I checked the video recorder after the game and it looked my elbow was coming down mechanics-wise. Especially when I’m facing Japanese hitters, it’s easier for them to hit when I pitch like that.”
That’s because the Japanese hitters know all about Iwakuma from his time playing over here. Any weakness can be easily exploited.
So, can the Mariners just flip a switch? We’re about to find out. They did not look good at all these last two games. But if this was spring training in Peoria, nobody would care. We’ll have to see.
One thing I will say — it’s a lot easer to play with Felix Hernandez on the mound than a guy getting rockets hit off him with every pitch. The team looked better offensively in the early going tonight, but got buried early by a pitcher simply not throwing very well at all.

Comments | Topics: Hisashi Iwakuma


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