PEORIA, Ariz. – Ian Snell pitched well for two innings in his spring training debut Saturday, then walked off the mound and heard something completely different.
This is Snell’s first spring training with the Seattle Mariners after a trade last July ended a stormy relationship with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Snell, a 28-year-old right-hander, is calling this camp a new beginning in his career, and in his first exhibition game he gave up three hits and one earned run, with one strikeout in the Mariners’ 7-4 victory over the Padres.
“This is a whole different atmosphere,” Snell said. “It’s something new to me, having never been here for spring training.”
New in what way?
“I’m not used to hearing the crowd quiet instead of yelling at you,” he said. “Afterward you hear fans say you did a good job even though you gave up two runs or whatever.”
He said it wasn’t like that in Bradenton, Fla., where the Pirates train.
“You’d need earmuffs,” Snell said. “It came from your own fans. It’s pretty crazy. But it’s a real good atmosphere here and I’m enjoying it a lot. Here, they want you to stay healthy and give your best. When you give your best, they cheer for you.”
Snell is expected to pitch out of the third or fourth spots in the Mariners’ five-man starting rotation, depending on whether manager Don Wakamatsu wants to use him to separate left-handers Cliff Lee and Ryan Rowland-Smith.
“I’m not worrying about that,” Snell said. “I’m tired of hearing who’s going to get the number three or four or five. I really don’t care. I’m just out to have fun and do my job and prepare for the season.
“I just want to go out and enjoy the guys and have fun and get my work in, get ready and stay healthy.”
Wilson fine after scare
Shortstop Jack Wilson, whose hamstrings are as important to the Mariners’ infield defense as his hands, says he’s fine after a scare on Friday.
Wilson came out of the game after the third inning when he felt tightness in his right hamstring. Given his history of strains and tweaks with his hamstrings, that caused a few people, including manager Don Wakamatsu, to gulp a little bit.
Wilson fielded ground balls during the morning workout Saturday and said he would be able to play today’s game, which would keep him in Wakamatsu’s rotation of playing his starters every other day.
“It’s good and getting better,” Wilson said.
If anything, Wilson said the hamstring tightness could have been the result of too much stretching.
“The whole point of this offseason working with a massage therapist was getting the hamstrings loose,” he said. “They’re at a point now where they’re really stretching out and getting loose. They’re kind of irritated, we’ve been stretching so much. I’ve been stretching two to three times a day.
“It was just tightness. With the history I had last year and (the fact) I did get stretched out three or four times yesterday, I was like, ‘All right, maybe we’ve been getting after the stretching (too much) and need to back off and do more massage. I’m being very, very cautious with it.”
It was such a non-issue in Wilson’s mind that when he originally felt the tightness Friday, on a fielding play in the top of the third inning, he stayed in the game in order to get his at-bat in the bottom of the inning. He singled and, wouldn’t you know it, had to sprint all the way home when Ichiro Suzuki tripled.
“It’s not serious at all,” he said. “I wanted to get my at-bat, and I told (first base coach) Lee Tinsley that I wanted to go 80 percent and not do anything stupid (on the bases). Of course, Ichi hits a triple. I didn’t feel it at all running around the bases. I was careful and mindful about it. It’s all good.”
Hurts so good
Not long after he batted against Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez in their simulated game Friday, Mariners minor league infielder Kyle Seager made a few phone calls back home to North Carolina to tell friends and family about it.
It wasn’t just to tell them he faced Hernandez and Lee, but to tell them what happened in the second inning of that game.
“I had to tell them I got plunked by Cliff Lee,” said Seager, almost proud of the mark he still wore on his right arm Saturday.
Lee was fighting his control in the second inning of the simulated game when a fastball tailed too far up and in on Seager. It stung him hard just above his right elbow.
Major league exposure
The Mariners got a good look at some of their top prospects Saturday, starting Ezequiel Carrera in center field and Dustin Ackley at second base. Later, third baseman Alex Liddi and outfielder Greg Halman got into the game.
They all made an impression.
Carrera, who won the Southern League batting title with a .337 average at Class AA West Tennessee, went 0-for-1 and walked twice. He struggled in center field, being charged with a throwing error and losing a fly ball in the sun that fell for a double.
Ackley, the second overall pick in the draft last June, went 0-for-4 but started a double play.
Liddi, who tied Koby Clemens for the California League batting title with a .345 average at Class A High Desert, doubled and struck out.
Halman, whose 25 homers at West Tennessee tied for the Southern League lead, tripled in his only at-bat.
Catcher Rob Johnson was feeling better Saturday after experiencing soreness in his surgically repaired hips following a running drill last week. Johnson may do more running today and, if he feels good, could play in a game by the middle of this week, Wakamatsu said. … Both Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee felt fine after their simulated game Friday and are on track to pitch in exhibition games this week. Hernandez is scheduled to pitch a two-inning simulated game Tuesday and Lee two or three innings Wednesday against the Texas Rangers. … Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, who hasn’t played because of a sore right shoulder, is expected to start today’s game against the Padres and also may play in Monday’s split-squad game against the White Sox.
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