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Saturday, January 18, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports

Seattle Rotation Spinning Circles

By Larry Larue Tacoma News Tribune

The fourth and fifth spots in the Seattle rotation have been unfillable holes for the Seattle Mariners this season - and the team will try to fill them with new faces again this week.

Dave Fleming, banished to the bullpen weeks ago, will mark his return to the rotation in the spot of Bob Wells on Tuesday in Baltimore. And on Thursday, the newest face to grace the rotation will be Salomon Torres, replacing rookie Rafael Carmona.

When Torres starts Thursday against the Orioles, he will become the ninth starting pitcher - in what will be Seattle’s 39th game.

“We keep bringing kids up again and again and again and they’re not ready,” manager Lou Piniella said Sunday. “You can’t win and develop talent in the big leagues; you just don’t see successful teams trying to do both. We’ve got three rookies in our bullpen, all with good stuff.

“But you can’t pitch behind. You can’t miss the catcher’s glove by the width of home plate.

“You can win in the major leagues with one pitch - one pitch! Just throw your fastball to spots, up and in, down and away, and change speeds with it. Throw it 92 one time, 86 the next, 82 and then 89,” Piniella said. “Do that, show command with that pitch, you can win. Do that with the fastball, then work on whatever your second-best pitch is.”

The young Mariners brought up, Piniella said, don’t have command of their fastball.

“You get away with more in the minors, because the bat speed is slower and hitters chase pitches,” he said. “You come up here without command, you can’t win no matter what you throw. You fall behind, 2-0, 3-0 in the count, and instead of making that tough pitch you throw something just to get it over the plate and these hitters kill those pitches.”

Neither Fleming nor Torres is guaranteed to pitch better than the man he replaces. Fleming has an earned run average of 5.65. Torres, who has one appearance, has a 27.00 ERA.

Notes

Left-hander Greg Hibbard, rehabilitating his shoulder after rotator cuff surgery last year, had a setback last week and was given a cortisone shot for stiffness and soreness in that shoulder. Doctors examined Hibbard and said there was no damage and, after a 10- to 12-day rest, he will begin throwing again. Seattle doesn’t expect him to be ready to pitch in the majors before August - and that’s the best-case scenario. … Seattle is third in the league in stolen bases (30) - two behind Oakland, one in back of Boston - and on pace to steal 127 bases this year in the shortened 144-game schedule. That would be the fourth most in franchise history. … By going 0 for 3 on Saturday, in his 25th game, catcher Dan Wilson dropped below .300 for the first time this season. … Tim Belcher’s nine shutout innings dropped his ERA from 4.32 to 2.81.

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