Felix Hernandez deals to Adam Eaton of the Diamondbacks during the first inning of today’s game.
Just got done the fifth inning, with the Mariners scoring twice on a solo homer by Brad Miller and an RBI single by Brendan Ryan to cut the D-Backs’ lead to 5-3. Felix Hernandez threw 38 pitches over three innings of one-run ball today, the only blemish being the Erik Hinske homer. Hernandez then threw another 15 pitches in the bullpen afterwards, building arm strength for his next outing — in which he hopes to throw 65 pitches. See Hernandez speak after his outing in the video below.
Hector Noesi came in after Hernandez, walked a pair of batters, then yielded a three-run homer by Mark Teahen that made it a 4-0 lead for Arizona. Noesi just looks awful out there this spring.
Another pitcher who has had his struggles, Lucas Luetge, yielded a single to Josh Wilson, a walk, and then an RBI single to Paul Goldschmidt in the top of the fifth that put Arizona up 5-1 at the time. Luetge had a solid start to 2012 but faded as the season wore on and was used less and less in high leverage spots. While many assume he’ll make this year’s squad, that might not be a safe guess considering Luetge has Class AAA options left — unlike last year when the Mariners had to keep the Rule 5 pick in the majors — and two other lefties for the bullpen in Oliver Perez and Charlie Furbush. Luetge has given up 11 hits in six innings this spring and with the Mariners already paying Perez seven figures to be their late situational and set-up guy from the left side, you’d have to think carrying two such pitchers is a bit luxurious for a squad that could have a roster crunch late this spring.
In other words, Luetge will have to step it up.
1:30 p.m.: Erik Hinske opened the scoring in the second inning with a one-out solo homer to right field off of Felix Hernandez. Hinske is a former AL Rookie of the Year from 2002 who I covered in Toronto a decade ago. He has since become a platoon left-handed bat off the bench for several teams, earning the distiction of playing in three straight World Series for three different teams with Boston in 2007, Tampa Bay in 2008 and the Yankees in 2009. First player ever to do that.
Hernandez retired the side in order in the third inning, getting former teammate Josh “Paperboy” Wilson on a flyout, Adam Eaton on a popout to shortstop and a strikeout on Cliff Pennington. If Hernandez is done, he threw 38 pitches total.
1:12 p.m.: Felix Hernandez got the side in order in the top half of the first inning. He retired Adam Eaton on a second-pitch flyout to center, struck out Cliff Pennington, then got A.J. Pollock on an easy groundout to third.
12:30 p.m.: Those of you who read this morning’s earlier post might have noticed Jason Bay batting leadoff for the Mariners. It’s the first time Bay has done that in his entire 10-year career.
Dustin Ackley bats second and you’d have to think that’s where the team would like to have him to start the year. The Mariners have never been sold on Ackley as a leadoff guy.
Felix Hernandez takes the mound for his second Cactus League start. The Mariners have droped four of their last five games after winning 10 in a row.
Jason Bay circles the bases after his two-run homer in first inning gave the Mariners a 2-0 lead.
1:20 p.m.: Taijuan Walker touched the upper 90s with his fastball and allowed just one hit in tossing a scoreless fourth inning. Walker got a quick groundout from Jesus Guzman, then a fyout to center on Travis Buck. He had Nick Hundley at 1-2 and then nearly got him to chase a 2-2 pitch but Hundley checked his swing and took the count full. Hundley then lined the next pitch into center for a single.
Walker got out of the inning on a lineout to right by Cody Ransom. The Mariners still lead it 2-0.
12:30 p.m.: Jason Bay has to beat out Casper Wells if he’s going to make the team. Yesterday, Wells finished off the scoring in the bottom of the ninth with a two-run homer. Today, Bay just opened the scoring with a two-run homer to left-center on the second pitch he saw from Tyson Ross in the top of the first inning. So, the Mariners lead it 2-0.
This should be an interesting battle for the fifth and final outfield spot. Barring an injury, only one of Bay or Wells will make the team.
11:53 a.m.: Some of the more interesting pitchers in this game will come after scheduled Mariners starter Blake Beavan. We should see Danny Hultzen and Taijuan Walker at some point, in what will be only the second Cactus League appearance of their careers. Both pitched in a game last March 10 against the Diamondbacks in nearby Scottsdale. There was also a “B” game they appeared in against the Reds, but that was more about prospects than anything else. Today is more like the real thing.
We’ll also see non-roster invite Kameron Loe at some point. He’s worth keepinh an eye on since the Mariners would like to add experience from the right side in their bullpen if he’s up to the task.
Jason Bay insists that he truly does not believe his problems with concussions were the real reason behind the sub-par numbers that he put up for three seasons with the New York Mets. Bay had trouble staying on the field during his three years in the Big Apple and the Mariners had him checked out by three different doctors prior to signing his one-year, $1-million deal to play here.
“I’ve had a lot of people, coaches, try to convince me that it has,” Bay said of concussions impacting his play, “Maybe 15 or 20 years from now, they’ll come out with a study that says it does A, B, or C. I don’t feel like it did. All it really did, I felt, is that I lost more time. It was never ‘Man, before I had that I was faster’…none of that. I had played for the first six years of my career, every day. And I think that was the hardest part. Understanding that. It had nothing to do with that (concussions). It was just the time away.”
So, I asked him, what can he do — if anything — to prevent concussions from sidelining him yet again in Seattle?
“I think right now it’s not more the reccurence, but the maintenance,” he said. “It’s basically the protocol. Guys get banged up all the time. If you look at football or any sport…football by definition, it should happen a hundred times a play. For the first time, I missed quite a bit of time because it was really new and we didn’t know what we were doing and we weren’t really pro-active about it. We were just kind of waiting and waiting and waiting. When we kind of figured out how to attack it and look after the neck and stuff, I felt great instantly. And the second time, that’s what we did.
“So, I think it’s more the protocol. And we know more now, so we’re being extra cautious.”
Still, what is it about Seattle that leads Bay to believe he’ll have more success here than in New York?
Mariners outfielder Jason Bay is looking forward to a fresh start with his new club after three disastrous seasons with the New York Mets.
“I think it’s just the fresh start,” he said. “I’ve had a few really good hitting coaches and sometimes with just a fresh pair of eyes and a fresh perspective, you kind of wipe the slate clean. Regardless of where I was going, whether it was here or anywhere else…that was kind of the number one thing I was looking forward to — starting over. You’re just kind of swimming upstream for so long that you’re not getting anywhere. And that’s basically it. Just trying to start fresh.”
Robert Andino just reached a one-year deal with the Mariners, needing all of about 10 minutes to test the free agent waters after Seattle non-tendered him. That’s got to be some type of record, but hey, Mariners fans needed a little suspense to keep them awake as we head into the winter meetings, So, that’s…
Tonight was the deadline for all teams to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players and the Mariners did so with everybody except for infielder Robert Andino, acquired just last week from Baltimore for Trayvon Robinson. But don’t fret: though Andino is now a free agent, the team will attempt to re-sign him to a…
Former Washington Nationals GM Jim Bowden feels the upcoming winter meetings will be most action-packed of last decade. Photo Credit: AP
Former GM Jim Bowden — now a radio analyst for ESPN and Sirius XM — went on 710 ESPN Seattle on the Brock & Salk show to talk about the challenges facing the Mariners and GM Jack Zduriencik. Bowden said Zduriencik has been extremely busy this off-season trying to upgrade the club’s offense and expects that he’ll have to trade one of his prized minor league pitchers to bring a bat in.
Bowden doesn’t feel Zduriencik has pressure to win “right now” but “I think there is pressure to make a step in the right direction when you’ve had the worst offense in the league three years in a row. You need to do something, you can’t just watch it. So, you need to make a trade and you need to get a free agent and you need to do it before the holidays.”
While he doesn’t see the Mariners getting in on Josh Hamilton, he likes the versatility and power that Mike Napoli has, along with the reguar season consistency of Nick Swisher.
He sees the coming meetings as having the potential to be the most active of the last 10 years due to rule changes that moved up deadlines for tendering contracts as well as some of the new money injected into the game.
Bowden said there has been a notable hike in salaries over the past year because of new local TV deals signed by teams like the Rangers and Angels and, soon, the Dodgers. But also because of national deals injecting TV and internet revenue into the pockets of all 30 teams in coming seasons. All have been in on some of the game’s best free agents since and thathas driven up salaries for players across the board.
As a result, Bowden said, teams will have to raise their payrolls as much as 20 percent if they hope to keep up.
“I think that’s the point here,” Bowden said. “We advertise how much these players are getting, but you’re not advertising how much the Mariners are getting in revenue. And that the industry is getting. That’s why the salaries are going up and historically that’s the way it’s always been.