Mariner notes

  • Wednesday, June 6, 2007 9:00pm
  • Sports

Manager Mike Hargrove rotated his bench players into the lineup to give his starters an occasional day off. And he kept his hands off certain relief pitchers who became worn down from pitching day after day after day.

Despite the Mariners’ recent success, the past 23 days have put a strain on the Mariners because they had to play every day. Their only scheduled day off, May 21, was lost when they had to play at Cleveland to make up one of the four snowed-out games in early April.

Even though the Mariners will spend part of today traveling to San Diego, having a day without a game will be a refreshing change.

“It’s hard physically, but the tough part is the mental part,” Hargrove said. “We’ve tried to give guys days off periodically throughout that, but that still doesn’t make up for totally having a day off.”

No aspect of the team has felt the day-by-day workload more than the bullpen.

“I don’t remember the last time everybody was available,” Hargrove said. “It’s kind of become a habit now to operate this way. We also have a couple of special circumstances we have to pay attention to with some younger guys who aren’t used to pitching out of the bullpen.”

Primarily, that would be rookie right-hander Brandon Morrow. He has been phenomenal with a 2-0 record and a 1.66 ERA, but also has 19 appearances, third-most among relievers.

“It’s not because we’re afraid of hurting him, but it’s to help him adjust mentally to what he’s doing,” Hargrove said.

More progress: Mark Lowe took another positive step in his comeback from elbow surgery when he threw 35 pitches off the bullpen mound Wednesday.

“I feel awesome,” said Lowe, who has thrown three times off a mound and has two more sessions scheduled Friday and Monday with the Mariners on their road trip.

Lowe limited his work to fastballs and changeups, “although I’m spinning a couple (of breaking pitches) when I’m playing catch and that feels great, too.”

Considering that there were questions whether Lowe would pitch again after the surgery, he’s giddy over the progress he has made.

“It’s not easy to hear you might never pitch again,” he said. “But I used that as motivation just to prove people wrong. With every surgery, there’s a possibility you might never pitch again. But I’ve stayed upbeat the whole time, and all of this has been a growing experience for me.”

Of note: Shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt extended his career-best hitting streak to 18 games with a second-inning single. … First baseman Richie Sexson returned to the lineup after missing a game with a sore calf, but third baseman Adrian Beltre remained out because of his sprained thumb. Hargrove chose to sit Beltre a fifth straight day and take advantage of today’s off day, and planned to play him Friday in the series opener at San Diego. … Horacio Ramirez, the starting pitcher on the disabled list since May 25 because of left shoulder tendinitis, isn’t close to returning. “He’s got a throwing program going on,” Hargrove said. “He hasn’t been on the mound, he’s just playing catch. It’ll be a while.”

Kirby Arnold, Herald Writer

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