PEORIA, Ariz. – The remnants of an 8-4 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Saturday were a lot uglier on the surface than what they mean to the more global view of what the Seattle Mariners are trying to accomplish at spring training.
Right-hander Doug Fister wobbled through three innings, allowing six hits, two walks and four runs, although only one was earned. It was Fister’s second straight rough outing and, while it didn’t help his quest to win the fifth starter’s job, it didn’t hurt because it’s early.
The Mariners are having Fister pitch out of the windup, and the result was several pitches up in the strike zone. Still, manager Don Wakamatsu wasn’t discouraged.
“There’s a lot of things I liked about that outing,” Wakamatsu said. “It wasn’t real pretty but there were a couple of broken bats in there. We’re working on some things and I’m encouraged.”
In other words, don’t count Fister out of the fifth starter competition, even though Jason Vargas has been by far the leader of that pack.
“When we start stretching them out a little more there will be some concerns if there’s not much adjustment,” Wakamatsu said. “Early, you’re trying to get the pitch count in. It’s tough to judge sometimes because of the ballpark and the way the ball carries. You take all those things into consideration.”
One who isn’t in the fifth-starter race is left-hander Garrett Olson. He tossed another bad one Saturday, allowing two hits, two walks and two runs while getting only one out in the fourth inning.
Options for reliever Kelley
The Mariners ramped up their bullpen depth in the offseason with the acquisition of hard-throwing Brandon League. It gives them three hard throwers to finish games – League, Mark Lowe and closer David Aardsma – in addition to sinker specialist Sean White.
The added depth allows the Mariners to consider ways they might use right-hander Shawn Kelley, who pitched 46 innings in relief last year. Kelley pitched two innings on Friday against Kansas City, and he’s among a small group that is getting extended outings.
“Were taking a look at these options of giving us length there, and Kelley’s definitely one of them,” Wakamatsu said.
Jose Lopez made his best play so far at third base, diving to his right to glove Juan Uribe’s hard grounder behind the bag. Lopez quickly got to his feet and made a strong throw to first base for the out. … Ichiro Suzuki, playing in his fourth straight game, got five at-bats and played all nine innings. He, along with several regulars, won’t make the Tucson trip for games today and Monday. With Tuesday being an off day, he’ll have plenty of time to rest up before Wednesday’s night game against the Rangers. … Felix Hernandez, who’ll be on a 50-pitch limit in today’s start against Colorado, seemed more excited about the fact he’ll get to bat in the game (without the DH). Before he left the field Saturday, he showed off his batting stance and swing mechanics to anyone interested.