Notes: Mariners starters coming along
Washburn adds to string of strong outings by rotation
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- For starters, the Mariners are performing exceedingly well lately.One day after projected Opening Day starter Felix Hernandez allowed one run over three innings, and threw strikes consistently around the kneecaps of hitters, left-hander Jarrod Washburn on Thursday tossed three shutout innings against the Royals at Surprise Stadium. That extends to four the number of impressive outings by the likely regular-season rotation. Right-hander Miguel Batista pitched two hitless innings against the Cubs on Monday and left-hander Horacio Ramirez worked three scoreless innings the following day in his first Cactus League start. Tack on the two most recent outings and it adds up to 11 innings pitched, one run allowed, and a 0.82 ERA. Right-hander Jeff Weaver struggled in his first Cactus League outing, surrendering five hits and three runs against the Giants in Scottsdale. But Mariners pitching coach Rafael Chaves had a prolonged phone conversation Wednesday night with Dave Duncan, the Cardinals pitching coach who worked with Weaver late last season and is credited with getting the pitcher's career back on track. The message Chaves has been preaching all spring seems to be catching on, at least with the pitchers who will be on the Opening Day pitching staff. "We're not trying to reinvent the wheel, we're trying to make it as simple as possible," Chaves said. "From day one, we have talked about, 'work the bottom of the strike zone, change speeds and work ahead in the count.' The less you put in their heads, with mechanics or other things that can distract a pitcher, rather than concentrate, the better off it is. I think simple is working." Simple works just fine for Washburn, but he wasn't altogether happy with his outing. "My offspeed pitch wasn't very good today, and I still haven't hit that inside spot to a lefty," he said. "I got one in on [Alex] Gordon, so I guess I got a little too far in. But, the results were good." Washburn surrendered a two-out single to Ryan Shealy in the second inning and then Gordon, a left-handed hitting third baseman. "No matter how good it is, there are still things to improve on," he added. "I'm happy with how it ended up and how I threw overall, but there are still some things I need to work on." Washburn has been working on getting his pitches to left-handers farther inside. Lefties batted .317 (44-for-139) against him last season, and he's looking to reduce that number substantially in 2007. Washburn didn't read too much into the string of well-pitched outings by his rotation colleagues. "It's just like wins and losses in spring training, it doesn't mean anything," he said. "It's good that we're all getting our work in. Obviously, some things are working for us. It is Spring Training and the games don't mean a thing right now, but it's showing what we're capable of. "We have the capability of having a real solid five-guy rotation. We'll go out there with a chance to win every single night. That's our main goal when we go out there as starters, to give our team a chance to win." Washburn gave the Mariners a chance to win their second Cactus League game, but right-hander Jorge Campillo threw it away -- literally. The reliever's wild throw on a potential inning-ending double play in the fourth inning ignited a five-run uprising that greased the skids to an 11-3 Seattle loss -- its seventh Cactus League defeat in eight games.
"Washburn was outstanding," mnager Mike Hargrove said, "but from the fourth through eighth innings, we didn't pitch well at all. Today was not a good day for Campillo. It didn't help his cause at all."Beltre backs off: Third baseman Adrian Beltre has bursitis in his left (non-throwing) shoulder. "We're going to shut him down for a couple of days," Hargrove said. "He probably could take some ground balls, but he has been diagnosed with bursitis, which is treatable with rest." Beltre has been one of the hottest hitters early in the Cactus League season, going 4-for-11 with one home run. It seems odd that his non-throwing shoulder is the one bothering him. "He and [hitting coach Jeff Pentland] have been working real hard this spring on letting go of his top hand after contact," Hargrove explained. "I think that probably has something to do with it." Jimenez has MRI: Left-hander Cesar Jimenez, who appeared in four games with the Mariners last September, had an MRI on his left elbow on Thursday. Jimenez pitched a perfect eighth inning in Wednesday's game against the Giants, striking out two of the three batters he faced, and was supposed to pitch the ninth inning as well. But there was discomfort in his elbow. "I don't know how realistic his chances were [of being on the Opening Day roster]," Hargrove said, "but he was in the mix. He was throwing the ball well." Also on the injury front, Sean Burroughs remains in San Diego recovering from a shoulder injury suffered while fishing prior to reporting to Spring Training. The 26-year-old infielder, who has previous Major League experience with the Padres and Devil Rays, will remain in San Diego working with his personal physician before reporting to the Mariners' Minor League complex. Extras: Closer J.J. Putz has tightness in his right elbow and could miss up to two days of action. He had been scheduled to pitch an inning in Friday's game against the Rockies, but that seems unlikely. ... The Minor League camp had its first full-scale workout and the State of Washington continues to be well represented. Willie Bloomquist (Port Orchard), Sean White (Mercer Island), Matt Tuiasosopo (Woodinville), and Eric O'Flaherty (Walla Walla) have been in the big-league camp. The Minor League influx includes Jason Grove (WSU/Walla Walla), Aaron Trolia (WSU/University Place), Will Fenton (UW/Kingston), Kyle Parker (UW/Yakima), Andrew Barb (Lake Stevens), Chris Minaker (Edmonds) and Brant Ust (Sammamish).
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.