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March 15, 2013 at 10:08 PM

Wladimir Balentien and The Netherlands rout Mariners and starter Jon Garland

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Well, if this game result depressed you, cheer up by reading my story for tomorrow’s paper on Mariners shortstop prospect Brad Miller and his past connections to the family of Kyle Seager, which pre-dates their time with the Seattle organization. Hardly a coincidence folks keep comparing Miller to Seager in how he plays: he was a quick study in all things Seager before turning pro.

What a night for former Mariners outfielder Wladimir Balentien, who drove in five runs the first two innings and helped The Netherlands rout Jon Garland and his squad by an 8-1 score. Balentien, 28, seen interviewed pre-game in the video down below, went 3-for-5 with a three-run homer, two singles, 5 RBI and a run scored on the night. You can see the homer in the video above and his two-run single in the second inning right below the next paragraph. As I wrote a year ago this month upon chatting with Balentien in Japan, his life over there changed big-time. He went on to hit another 31 homers in an injury-shortened season after I wrote that piece, garnering a three-year, $7 million extension. Those are rare for non-Japanese ballplayers, but Balentien has literally become a superstar there.

When we chatted yesterday, Balentien told me he’ll sometimes get recognized by cab drivers in Tokyo and they’ll want to let him ride free.

“I always pay them,” he said, with a laugh.

Garland wasn’t pleased at all with his outing. He was rushing all night, flying open with his mechanics and that was giving the Dutch hitters a longer look at his pitches — which were more elevated than usual.

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Most importantly, Garland couldn’t make in-game adjustments.

“I was rushing to the plate and my front side was opening up heavily,” he said. “I was jerking a lot of balls, getting behind in the count. A two-out walk, giving them extra chances. Bad things, in general, in a game.”

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Garland and the other four starters competing for two open rotation spots will be measured on their ability to adjust in-game. It’s usually one of the major advantages veteran pitchers hold over young ones and something every coaching staff looks for when gauging who to carry north with them.

Tonight was a real test for Garland in that department and he didn’t — by his own admission — fare very well.

“Obviously, I wasn’t able to figure it out.”

Nevertheless, he said he wasn’t overly concerned about how tonight might impact his chances of making the team.

“I think it’s a lot easier for me in the position I am than for a younger guy trying to make the team,” he said. “It’s not going to be the end of the world for me if they tell me I’m out of here. There’s 29 more teams. If someone wants to give me a chance, they will. If not, they won’t. It’s trying to do the best you can, really.”

Garland said his arm feels fine physically and he’s letting pitches fly the hardest he can. He insists there are no lingering thoughts in the back of his mind about his prior shoulder surgery.

“Like I said, the position I’m in, I’ve pitched a career,” he said. “So, it’s not the end of the world for me. I’m basically going out there and letting it go and hard as I can. If it goes, it goes. If it holds up, that’s kind of what I’m hoping for. But it’s going to do what it’s going to do.



Comments | More in Cactus League | Topics: wladimir balentien; netherlands; WBC; Jon Garland


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