PEORIA, Ariz. – For nearly three weeks at spring training, Seattle Mariners fans have seen the Ken Griffey Jr. bat waggle and little else at the plate to remind them of the superstar from the 1990s.
Friday, Griffey offered something else: his first spring training home run in a 6-5 loss to Milwaukee
He launched a high drive into the Brewers’ bullpen in the eighth inning, connecting on a hanging breaking pitch from left-hander Lindsay Gulin.
“He was facing a pitcher who wasn’t throwing that hard, but for me just hitting a ball out of the ballpark, it stirs a lot of feelings that he’s still got something,” manager Don Wakamatsu said. “It gave me 98-degree goosebumps.”
Griffey’s first three plate appearances were a continuation of what he’s experienced all spring, when he has struggled with his timing and rarely made solid contact.
He grounded into a double play to end the first inning, hit a soft popup to third base in the fourth and walked in the sixth.
Then, with a 1-1 count against Gulin in the eighth, he made his best contact of the month. The only uncertainty was whether the ball would stay fair. It did, landing in the bullpen about 10 feet inside the foul pole.
Lowe at his best
In a game when closer candidates David Aardsma and Randy Messenger faltered, Mark Lowe pitched his best inning of the spring.
The right-hander gave up a leadoff double to Mike Rivera in the eighth, but throwing his best sinker yet, got the next three hitters out. He sprang off the mound to field Brad Nelson’s sacrifice bunt and, with Rivera on third, got Jason Bourgeois on a grounder to shortstop and struck out Mat Gamel with a crisp sinker.
Aardsma had his roughest inning so far, allowing four hits and three runs, including two home runs. Messenger gave up a double to J.J. Hardy and a two-run homer to Casey McGehee.
Messenger has allowed 10 hits, including two homers, in his past 62/3 innings.
Brandon Morrow threw a 30-pitch simulated game against a few minor league hitters and said his right arm continues to feel fine. Morrow, who hasn’t pitched in an exhibition since March 1 because of a tight right forearm, said he will throw in the bullpen Sunday and pitch in a game Tuesday. … Rob Johnson went 2 for 3 with a home run, lifting his spring average to .409, and also drew praise from Wakamatsu in how he handled the pitching. Johnson is competing for the backup catching job. … Tyler Johnson, trying to complete his recovery from shoulder surgery and become the Mariners’ left-handed relief specialist, didn’t throw a simulated game as planned. Wakamatsu said he hasn’t suffered a setback, and that he will throw a simulated game today. … Reliever Roy Corcoran, who hasn’t pitched in a game since March 12 because of biceps tendinitis, is scheduled to pitch today against the Oakland A’s.
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