Notes: Skipper not worried about mark
Six of eight Mariners' losses have been by just one run
PEORIA, Ariz. -- For those keeping score, the Mariners are winless in one-run games this spring.And not that manager Mike Hargrove is getting a little tired of all the close Cactus League defeats -- six of the eight losses have been by one run -- but he played the ninth inning Friday afternoon like it was a regular-season game. Pinch-hitter Jeremy Reed doubled to start the inning and scored one out later on pinch-hitter Bryan LaHair's single into center field. The run pulled the Mariners into a tie, but the visiting Rockies scored a run in the 10th for a 6-5 victory at Peoria Stadium, leaving Seattle with a 1-8 record. Contrary to what the record looks like, Hargrove remains adamant that progress continues to be made heading toward the April 2 regular-season opener at Safeco Field against the Athletics. "It's real easy to look at the record and say this is a bad Spring Training," he said. "It is not a bad Spring Training. It may be one of the best ones I have been involved with. "We are playing good baseball and things are going right in this camp," he added. "It's a good camp. Guys are working hard to get ready for the season, and if it's our lot to lose a lot of one-run games, I would rather do that down here than in the season." But there still is a will to win and the ninth inning itself showed that. Hargrove used 22 of the 26 position players available for Friday's game. Third baseman Adrian Beltre and right fielder Jose Guillen were given the day off. The day's bright spots included a two-hit game from Willie Bloomquist, who played third base, two more hits from second baseman Jose Lopez and a solid start from right-hander Jeff Weaver. "Jeff was a lot better this time out," said Hargrove of Weaver's three-inning, one-run outing. "He kept the ball down and threw strikes." The most obvious negative was right-handed reliever Chris Reitsma. He inherited a one-run lead in the top of the ninth inning and kept it for one pitch. His second one, to Alvin Colina, sailed into the Mariners bullpen in left field for a game-tying, leadoff home run. One out later, Ian Stewart sent a Reitsma pitch over the fence in right-center to give Colorado a one-run lead. The fact Reitsma threw more strikes than either of his first outings was encouraging. But having the balls clobbered is not what the Mariners have in mind for the reliever who was signed to provide late-inning setup relief for closer J.J. Putz. "I thought he was a lot more firm with his pitches today," Hargrove said. "His breaking ball was better, and he had better command of it. He's starting to come around, but he has to stay away from the long ball." Weaver stayed away from the long ball on Friday, striking out one. "I still fell behind in the count a couple of times and I need to pound the zone early to get ahead of those guys," he said. "My cutter is coming along. I threw some good ones, and overall everything is headed in the right direction, for sure." But he doesn't necessarily want everything to fall into place too well. "The year I had my best Spring Training was when I was in New York and then I had my worst [regular] season," he said. "So the numbers I have in Spring Training mean nothing to me."
Tough break: An MRI taken on left-handed pitcher Cesar Jimenez disclosed that he has a stress fracture of his throwing elbow. Jimenez was injured on Wednesday when pitching against the Giants.The fracture is in the olecranon, or tip, of his elbow and he has decided to undergo surgery to help speed the healing process. The surgery, performed by Mariners team medical director Dr. Edward Khalfayan, will be scheduled within the next week.
There was no immediate word on how long Jimenez would be sidelined.Mariners head trainer Rick Griffin said it isn't a common injury, and both Reitsma and Travis Blackley have had the same injury. "It's an extension overload," he explained. "The arm goes into extension and the muscles are pulling on the bone and they collide and you have a small fracture. It can be a stress fracture or some of them can break right off." World Series "champs": The Mariners played two more games of "27" during Friday morning workouts. The object of the game is to reach 27 outs before making a physical or mental mistake. Hargrove is the judge and has been known to be a tough one. Earlier this spring, the team made 17 consecutive outs before making a mistake and never came closer. But in the first go-around on Friday, the defense was mistake-free from beginning to end. Finally, with 26 outs, Hargrove announced that there were runners on first and third with one out, and the Mariners were leading by one run in the bottom of the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series. A grounder was hit to shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, who fielded the ball, underhanded it to second baseman Jose Lopez for the first out and the relay to first base completed the game-ending double play. Players standing on the sidelines threw their gloves high into the air in mock celebration. Hargrove said it was only the second time in the 16 years he has been running the drill that 27 consecutive outs were made cleanly.