By Kirby Arnold Associated Press
PEORIAm Ariz. — It’s difficult to draw conclusions about a team from a spring training game, but the SEattle Mariners have scored one run in their past two games, including Sunday’s 1-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
Any panic over the offense? Not yet.
Sunday, the Mariners rolled out a lineup without Milton Bradley or Jose Lopez, and in the most critical situation of the game had three young hitters with a total of 27 big-league games facing Cubs veteran Ryan Dempster.
The Mariners had loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh inning before Dempster struck out 20-year-old minor leaguer Mario Martinez (part of some defensive shuffling after center fielder Franklin Gutierrez was pulled because of an upset stomach), Matt Tuiasosopo and Adam Moore to keep the Mariners scoreless.
If anything, the game may have shed some light on what the Mariners have as they prepare for some interesting decisions before opening day.
First baseman Casey Kotchman went 2-for-3, including a double into the right-field corner in the first inning. That’s what the Mariners will need from a player they plan to bat third in the order.
Tuiasosopo played another solid game in the field — at both third base and left field — but went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. Tuiasosopo is competing for one of the final roster spots and the Mariners are watching him closely in these final games. He homered Saturday against the Dodgers but struck out twice Sunday and is batting .111 in his past eight games.
Moore went 0-for-3 against Dempster, although in the fifth inning he hit a rocket up the middle that bounced off Dempster’s foot to Cubs second baseman Jeff Baker, who threw Moore out at first base.
That ball might have had a slight bit more velocity than Moore’s throw to second in the ninth inning to catch Cubs base stealer Sam Fuld.
“You could hang your clothes on that throw,” Wakamatsu said.
Ken Griffey Jr. also went 0-for-3 but stung a drive to the warning track near the 410-foot mark in center field for the second out in the ninth inning. He hit that ball into a strong wind.
“He had his swing,” Wakamatsu said. “It’s especially a good thing when you see him drive a ball to the opposite field like that.”
Now batting first, second, third …
Wakamatsu continues to consider options to his batting order, but Sunday he indicated this is how it could unfold:
Ichiro Suzuki, Chone Figgins, Casey Kotchman, Milton Bradley, Ken Griffey Jr., Jose Lopez, Franklin Gutierrez, Rob Johnson or Adam Moore (the catchers will get fairly equal playing time) and Jack Wilson.
One thing to consider: Wakamastu used 140 different lineups last year.
Coming to a mound soon: Bedard
Erik Bedard has been so strong in his 120-foot long-toss sessions that he’s ready to take the next step, onto a mound.
There’s no exact date set, and Wakamatsu said Bedard may not be ready for a full-fledged workout from the bullpen mound, but it’s time for him to get up there “to get acclimated.”
“I think we are ahead of schedule,” Wakamatsu said. “To watch him throw as hard as he has from 120 feet, it gives you a belief system.”
Wakamatsu also said Bedard would travel with the Mariners when they break camp this week, continuing his recovery with the team after shoulder surgery in August.
Johnson catching today
The Mariners had said late last week that Rob Johnson would catch all nine innings Sunday. That changed, and his first nine-inning test of the year will happen today when the Mariners play the A’s in Phoenix.
There’s been no setback in Johnson’s comeback from offseason surgery on both hips. Adam Moore, who the Mariners want to catch as many of the starters as possible, caught Sunday when Ryan Rowland-Smith started.
Johnson, who’ll catch Jason Vargas today, emphasized that his hips are feeling great.
“Honestly, I’m fine,” he said.
Today in camp
The Mariners face the Oakland A’s at 1:05 p.m. at Phoenix (ESPN 710 AM radio). Left-hander Jason Vargas will start for the Mariners, who also are scheduled to pitch right-handers Sean White, Jesus Colome, Kanekoa Texeira and Brandon League. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez will start for the A’s. Right-hander Doug Fister is scheduled to pitch in a minor league game in Peoria.
Pitcher Cliff Lee’s lower abdominal strain is improving, Wakamatsu said, although it’s still too soon to estimate a recovery time. “Wednesday will be a big day for him,” the manager said. Lee is expected to play catch Wednesday after being shut down for five days. … Utility player Jack Hannahan will fly to Philadelphia on Monday to have his strained groin examined. … Outfielder Ryan Langerhans will get at-bats Monday and Wednesday in minor league games. He’s been shut down a couple of days because of a sore left elbow. … Sunday’s crowd of 13,629 in Peoria set another all-time Cactus League single-game record, beating the 13,583 that attended Saturday’s game between the Mariners at Dodgers in Glendale.