Mariners’ team earned run average: 14.88

  • By Kirby Arnold / Herald Writer
  • Sunday, March 5, 2006 9:00pm
  • Sports

PEORIA, Ariz. – There are days early in spring training when the pitchers are ahead of the hitters. Other days the hitters are ahead of the pitchers.

So far, everyone has been ahead of the Seattle Mariners.

Sunday’s 13-7 loss to the Padres left the Mariners with three straight losses by a combined score of 47-16. The team earned run average is 14.88.

Manager Mike Hargrove knows it’s too early to get worked up over the poor pitching, but he’s gotten weary seeing it for three days..

“You’re kind of blessed and cursed at the same time,” Hargrove said. “You’re blessed in that the games don’t count but you’re cursed that these guys are out there to get their work in. If you try to manage a game in spring training and try to win by matching up with pitchers or taking pitchers out when they’re not doing well, then when it comes down to the start of the season they’re not ready.”

Besides Jarrod Washburn, who pitched well the first two innings, non-roster reliever Francisco Cruceta was impressive with two scoreless innings. He gave up one hit and one walk but struck out two.

Right-hander Renee Cortez gave up six runs on four hits in two innings, and right-hander Jeff Heaverlo gave up six hits and five earned runs in two-thirds of an inning.

Hargrove has been lenient in his criticism because most of the pitchers so far have thrown for the first time this year. That will change today when four of the five scheduled pitchers will make their second appearances.

“We have to let them get their work in,” Hargrove said. “But as we get deeper into spring training, outings like that will be cut a lot shorter. Again, we came out and didn’t throw strikes. When we did, it was up in the zone and over the middle of the plate.

“It’s still early. We’ve got to keep telling ourselves that, but it will come to a point in time when that excuse doesn’t work. It just points out, even in early spring training games, how important pitching is to a club’s success.”

Location, location: For the first time out, Washburn was satisfied. The Mariners’ new left-handed starter allowed two hits, two walks and a run in two innings of his first game.

“I’m just working on location and getting the arm strength built up,” he said. “That’s the most important thing right now. I don’t like walking two guys, but it happens. I know the command will come.”

No secrets: Washburn and Kenji Johjima met before the game to go over signs, and the Mariners’ new catcher was especially concerned about what to do when a runner was on second base. Washburn told him to flash the same signs whether or not a runner was able to see them.

“If they want to steal signs in spring training, let them,” Washburn said. “I think he thought I was kidding at first, because he asked me like three times what signs I wanted him to use.”

Of note: Mariners closer Eddie Guardado rushed from the clubhouse Sunday morning and drove to a Scottsdale hospital to see Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett, who suffered a stroke. Guardado was a rookie with the Twins in 1995, Puckett’s final season. … Retired Mariners catcher Dan Wilson will be in camp today to begin three days of work with the catchers. … Former Mariners pitcher Kazuhiro Sasaki, who retired from baseball last year, will return to Peoria this week as a TV/radio commentator covering the Japanese team at the World Baseball Classic. The Japanese team will work out this week at the Peoria Sports Complex to prepare for the second round of the WBC next week in Anaheim.

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