Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger moved closer to earning the fifth spot in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rotation, throwing 51/3 scoreless innings in a 3-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday in Glendale, Ariz.
Haeger gave up just two hits, both singles by Ichiro Suzuki. The right-hander struck out five and walked one.
Haeger has waded through at least a dozen fifth-starter candidates, with his closest competition for the role being left-hander Eric Stults.
Both pitchers are out of minor league options.
Andre Ethier hit his team-best third homer for the Dodgers, and Casey Blake had two hits and drove in a run.
Ian Snell pitched six innings for the Mariners, surrendering three runs and four hits. He was able to rebound from a poor outing Monday against the Oakland Athletics, where he gave up six runs in seven innings.
“(Breaking balls) just haven’t been there for me the last couple games,” said Snell, who retired 10 consecutive batters after Ethier’s homer. “I’ve been relying on my fastball and change-up, and it’s hard to get by with two pitches as a four-pitch pitcher.”
Seattle closer David Aardsma, who was hampered by a strained groin early in spring training, gave up a hit in one scoreless inning.
This is one unusual experiment for Cliff Lee and the Seattle Mariners. Or for any major league team, for that matter.
Lee is sidelined with a strained abdomen that could cause him to miss the first weeks of the season, but the Mariners are using platelet-rich plasma injection therapy to treat their prized winter acquisition.
The treatment for the 2008 American League Cy Young Award winner has been used for the last decade mainly on joint issues such as tennis elbow, hamstring strains or other injuries to limbs.
Not on abdomens. That makes Lee something of a medical experiment.
“I guess you’d have to say that,” Mariners medical director Dr. Ed Khalfayan said Saturday in a telephone interview from his home in the Seattle area.
Khalfayan gave the left-hander an ultrasound and the platelet-rich plasma therapy on March 19 in Seattle, injecting Lee’s own blood into the injured area to focus its healing powers on his ailing midsection.
Khalfayan doesn’t like the negative connotation that comes with the term “experimental.” But he agrees what the Mariners are doing with Lee remains largely unproven.
“It hasn’t gotten to the point that it’s accepted, standard practice,” Khalfayan said of the therapy.
Lee said he felt markedly better three days after the injection, but he had pain throwing for five minutes on flat ground on Tuesday and Thursday. He won’t throw again until at least Wednesday, making it likely he will begin the season on the disabled list.
Pauley impresses M’s
Thanks to a blooming spring, David Pauley has gone from an anonymous, minor-league free agent to a pitcher the Mariners can count on as a reinforcement this season.
Seattle reassigned the 26-year-old right-hander to its minor league camp – but not because the team doesn’t like him.
The Mariners love the 31/3 innings he threw against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday, a typical outing during Pauley’s first impressive spring training with the organization.
“There was nothing I thought he could have done to impress us more,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said.
Pauley, a non-roster invitee who spent last year as a Triple-A starter in Baltimore’s system, will likely start this season with the Mariners’ Triple-A club in Tacoma. But Seattle fans are likely to see him with the big league club, and perhaps soon, given how jumbled and injured the Mariners’ rotation has become.
Pauley, 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, didn’t allow a run in three of his six Cactus League appearances. He has a 3.52 spring ERA.
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