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Olivo strives to improve his defense

John Sleeper Everett Herald

PEORIA, Ariz. – Ripped for his lack of defensive acumen last season, Seattle Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo has been working out feverishly in the off-season with Stanwood, Wash., native Roger Hansen, the organization’s catching coordinator.

The work – beat writers refer to Hansen as a “pain machine” – continues in spring training.

“Roger and I have been working hard every day,” said Olivo, 26, obtained in a trade last season with the Chicago White Sox in a deal that included Jeremy Reed in exchange for Freddy Garcia and Ben Davis. “We work on everything. Everything. Over and over. That’s how you get better.”

Early returns are positive, judging by the way Olivo threw out San Diego’s Dave Roberts, who was trying to steal second on Thursday. Olivo’s cannon made it an easy call.

“That’s what we’d like to see on a more consistent basis,” Hansen said.

Added Mariners manager Mike Hargrove: “He’s swinging the bat better and he threw an absolute rocket. I like what I saw. What I like the most about him is the way he’s handling pitchers when they come in. He called a great game, given the limited number of pitches. It’s something to build on.”

The Mariners are giving Olivo every chance to phase himself in as the regular starter for Dan Wilson, who will turn 37 on March 25. Wilson signed a one-year contract in the off-season.

Guardado scratched

Reliever Eddie Guardado was scheduled to pitch either Friday or today, but he was scratched because his mechanics aren’t what they should be. Guardado, 34, who is coming off off-season arthroscopic surgery on his left knee also had 2004 come to an early close because of a torn rotator cuff. Rest, rather than surgery, was recommended.

“He’s slinging the ball, rather than throwing it,” Hargrove said. “It puts too much pressure on the shoulder. We’ll have him throw a couple more bullpens and then see where he is.”

Reed leads off

Ichiro Suzuki had the day off, so Hargrove slipped in center fielder Jeremy Reed in the leadoff spot against Milwaukee.

Hargrove said he may put Reed all over the place in the lineup. If Reed gives him reason to hit high in the order, say, in the No. 2 position behind Ichiro, so be it.

Hargrove said he didn’t know whether Reed would be the leadoff hitter when Ichiro takes a day off or is injured.

“I don’t know Jeremy enough to say that,” Hargrove said. “He could be. I’m just trying to figure out where he best fits. Where he fits this year may be completely different than where he fits two or three years from now.”

Reed went 0 for 3 but drove in a run on a sacrifice fly.

Martinez honor set for today

Today is the unveiling of Edgar Martinez Drive South in Peoria. The mayor, city manager and Martinez are scheduled at the ceremony to honor the former Mariners designated hitter, who retired at the end of last season.

The new street is the former Atlantic Drive, in Peoria.

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