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March 20, 2014 at 4:38 PM

Mariners win as Ramirez shines again

After Seattle’s 3-0 win over the Cubs in Mesa Thursday, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said he wasn’t ready to say yet about which pitchers — other than Felix Hernandez — will be in Seattle’s Opening Day rotation.

Erasmo Ramirez, though, made a pretty clear statement about his readiness for a spot in the game itself, allowing just four hits in six shutout innings to drop his ERA to 0.96 in 18.2 innings this spring.

Ramirez shrugged off some potential danger in the first inning when he gave up consecutive singles with two outs to then pretty much shut down the Cubs the rest of the way.

Ramirez said he “got lucky” early in the game because he was “missing pitches sometimes” and got away with it. But after the first inning, he said he worked with catcher John Buck to make a few adjustments, and he pretty much flew through the rest of the game.

Most important, he said, is that he feels good at this point in spring after missing roughly two months last season with triceps issues.

“I feel healthy again,” he said.

Enough so, that after throwing 63 pitches in the game he threw another 20-25 in the bullpen to continue working up arm strength.

Afterward, McClendon also made note of the way Ramirez escaped trouble early.

“The ball was up in the zone and he got away with a bit,” he said. “But any given day you don’t get away with those pitches, so even in wins there are things you need to correct and you need to talk about. But for the most part he threw the ball OK.”

As for if Ramirez has sewn up a spot in the rotation? “I’m not ready to say any of those things yet,” McClendon said.

Pitching was the story of the day all around as closer Fernando Rodney also had one of his better outings of the spring, striking out two in one inning.

Rodney said he feels like his fastball is coming along well but he just needs to get the location a little better.

McClendon said Rodney worked with pitching coach Rick Waits before the game and that it seemed to help.

“Fixed some things in his delivery,” McClendon said. “He felt real good about it and as a result he thew a lot of strikes.”

If you were there, or listening, you may have noticed McClendon go to the mound during Rodney’s inning. Rodney and McClendon each said Rodney was just explaining that there was a hole in the mound and that’s why his velocity was initially down. It appeared to get fixed from that point.

Joe Biemel also pitched for the first time since March 8 while battling arm trouble, and threw a scoreless inning, striking out one, as he battles for a spot in the bullpen.

“The ball came out very good,” McClendon said. “He looked healthy, finished his fastball, good sinker, some good changeups, even mixed in a curveball.”

Offensively, Dustin Ackley went 3-4 to raise his spring average to .457 and also had the only extra base hit for the Mariners, a double. Corey Hart struck out twice but also had a sharp single to left as he works to round his way into game shape. And Robinson Cano had another two hits to raise his average to .567.

The Mariners will play Friday at 7:05 p.m. against the Padres in Peoria, a game you can see on ROOT Sports.

Here’s some video of McClendon’s postgame meeting with the media:

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