March 25, 2009 in Sports

Griffey becomes comfortable at plate

Associated Press
 

Ken Griffey Jr. is still trying to get comfortable playing left field for the Seattle Mariners. At the plate, baseball’s active home run leader looks just fine.

Griffey doubled twice and drove in two runs after nearly getting hit in the head by a fly ball during Seattle’s 7-all tie with the Texas Rangers in 10 innings Tuesday at Peoria, Ariz.

After going 2 for 17 to start spring training, Griffey, 39, is 4 for 8 with a home run, two doubles, four RBIs and three walks over his past three games.

“There are good days and bad days,” Griffey said. “It’s just a matter of seeing pitches and not trying to do too much. That’s it.”

Chris Shelton went 3 for 5 with two doubles and an RBI for the Mariners, who wound up with their second tie this spring.

Jarrod Washburn allowed three runs and eight hits over six innings in his longest Cactus League outing. Washburn walked one and pitched out of trouble in the fourth and fifth, stranding runners in scoring position each time.

“I thought he could have went more but he had a stiff neck,” Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said. “He is pitching, not throwing like he used to.”

Nelson Cruz hit a three-run homer in the seventh for Texas, which pounded out 15 hits overall and rallied from three runs down to force the tie. Josh Hamilton, Andruw Jones and Jarrod Saltalamacchia added two hits apiece.

Griffey had an adventurous day in the outfield. He lost Saltalamacchia’s second-inning fly ball in the sun as he was near the warning track. The ball hit hard off the track next to Griffey and bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double.

“It went up and stayed in the sun and stayed there and stayed there,” Griffey said. “If I had gotten hit in the head it probably would have evened up the playing field for the gentlemen who are not as handsome as I am. I didn’t want it so my wife wouldn’t recognize me.”

In the fifth, Griffey fielded Jones’ double down the left-field line and made a strong throw back to the infield.

Griffey appears to be rounding into offensive form after his slow start. He walked in the first, then lined an RBI double that glanced off Hamilton’s glove in center in the second for a 2-0 lead.

Griffey also hit a towering shot that hit two-thirds of the way up the 45-foot high wall in center to drive in another run.

M’s rally in ninth

Yuniesky Betancourt’s two-run single highlighted a four-run ninth as a Mariners split squad rallied past the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-6 at Phoenix.

Manny Ramirez hit his first homer of the spring for the Dodgers. Seattle’s Endy Chavez went 4 for 5 with three runs and two RBIs.

Notes

Seattle third baseman Adrian Beltre has sat out a fifth consecutive spring game while resting a sore left shoulder. But Wakamatsu said the move is only precautionary. Wakamatsu said the goal is to get Beltre feeling good before the regular season starts. Beltre underwent thumb and shoulder surgeries last September and missed the final two weeks of the season. The Mariners have closely monitored his workouts in spring training. … Seattle right-hander Randy Messenger, a candidate for closer, gave up three earned runs in one inning.

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