Franklin prefers to remain in starting rotation

  • By Kirby Arnold / Herald Writer
  • Saturday, January 29, 2005 9:00pm
  • Sports

SEATTLE – The Seattle Mariners may not know if they’ll use Ryan Franklin as a starter or reliever when the 2005 season begins, but Franklin is certain about what he prefers.

“Starting is my cup of tea,” he said Saturday at the Mariners’ annual FanFest at Safeco Field.

Because Franklin has a resilient right arm and success as a reliever in his early career with the Mariners, the team is considering him for the bullpen if it can strengthen the starting rotation.

Going into spring training, the rotation consists of Joel Pineiro, Jamie Moyer, Gil Meche, Bobby Madritsch and Franklin, although veteran starter Aaron Sele has been invited and could make the team with a strong performance.

Manager Mike Hargrove said last week that Franklin or Madritsch would be the early candidates to pitch out of the bullpen if someone else cracks the rotation.

“I don’t think the team will be better suited with me out there,” Franklin said. “Me and Jamie Moyer were the only ones who ran out there every fifth day last year. I have made 76 consecutive starts. That should weigh in there somewhere.”

Franklin has been the Mariners’ poster boy for a lack of run support the past two years. He went 4-16 with a 4.90 earned run average in 2004 and 11-13, 3.57 in 2003. He pitched more than 200 innings in each of those seasons.

“Kenny Rogers last year had something like a 4.75 ERA (4.76, actually) and 18 wins,” Franklin said. “Derek Lowe had 14 wins and he had a five-and-a-half (5.42). You can go on and on. Some guys with high ERAs had about 10 more wins than I did. The last couple of years I could have won 15 games, and then there wouldn’t have been any debate about me going to the bullpen.”

Franklin says he is physically fit and ready for spring training, which starts Feb. 17 when the pitchers and catchers begin workouts. He now weighs 195 pounds, about 10 more than his playing weight last year, and already is throwing with some intensity.

“I’ll be ahead of everybody else when I go to spring training,” Franklin said. “By the time I get there, I can throw 70 pitches off the mound, game situation.”

Friday, he threw 50 pitches in the bullpen at Safeco Field.

“I’ve been playing long toss since mid-December and I’ve been working out since November,” Franklin said. “I’m ready.”

Ready to pitch as a starter, that is.

FanFest draws more than 6,000: FanFest drew 6,290 to Safeco Field on Saturday, more than 1,000 fewer than the first day last year.

FanFest drew 7,526 on the first day last year, and it will take a much bigger crowd today to threaten the two-day attendance record set in 2004. The final day last year drew 8,328 for a weekend total of 15,854.

FanFest today, running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will feature appearances by catchers Dan Wilson and Miguel Olivo, pitchers Ryan Franklin and J.J. Putz, second baseman Bret Boone, first baseman Richie Sexson, outfielder Jeremy Reed, team CEO Howard Lincoln and president Chuck Armstrong.

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