PEORIA, Ariz. – All eyes were on two pairs of legs Saturday at Peoria Stadium, and we’re not talking about sunbathers on the berm.
Mike Sweeney seems to have answered all concerns about the state of his two surgically repaired knees. He’s running smoothly and hitting well, having gone 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run in the Seattle Mariners’ 8-5 victory over the Oakland A’s.
Ken Griffey Jr. played a game of mystery and intrigue in left field.
He was challenged three times in the first two innings on pop flies down the foul line that dropped in front of him for hits. On a left knee that was surgically repaired last October, nobody expects Griffey to run like the 39-year-old he is or the swift outfielder he was.
The day’s plays were classic examples that it’s both early in the year and it’s not the 1990s anymore.
Oakland’s Ryan Sweeney sliced a high fly into the left-field corner with two outs in the first inning and Griffey ambled into the corner after it. By the time he retrieved the ball and threw it in, Sweeney was on third with a triple.
The next hitter, Jack Cust, pushed a popup to medium-depth left field – also down the line – and it fell between Griffey, third baseman Matt Tuiasosopo and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt. In the stands behind home plate, one fan yelled, “Come on Griffey, move it!” Another yelled, “E-7!”
In the second inning, Jack Hannahan also looped an opposite-field fly that landed just inside the line and fell in front of Griffey.
Griffey made two other plays, catching Landon Powell’s line drive to his left for the third out in the first and Daric Barton’s fly directly at him in the sixth.
“He’s still getting acclimated out there,” manager Don Wakamatsu said. “I thought he moved well to his left. Going down the line is a little different for him.”
It was a good day for three pitchers who may figure in the bullpen. Roy Corcoran and Shawn Kelley each pitched a perfect inning, and Miguel Batista retired all four hitters he faced. … The Mariners optioned left-handed pitcher Jason Vargas to Triple-A Tacoma. He had a 4.63 ERA in 112/3 innings. … Left-handed relief specialist Tyler Johnson threw a 30-pitch simulated game. While his fastball command wasn’t sharp, it was a positive step for a pitcher trying to make it back after major shoulder surgery a year ago.