Mariners update

  • Saturday, July 24, 2004 9:00pm
  • Sports

Opponent: Anaheim Angels

When: 1:05 p.m.

Where: Safeco Field

TV: KSTW (Channel 11)

Radio: KOMO (1000 AM)

Probable starters: Seattle right-hander Joel Pineiro (5-11, 4.88 earned run average) vs. right-hander Ramon Ortiz (3-5, 4.09).

No going back

Travis Blackley laments his struggles in his last three starts, but it still beats going back to the scene of his previous success.

“I think I left my stuff in Tacoma, but I sure don’t want to go back there to find it,” said Blackley, who will start Monday’s game at Oakland.

He’s 1-2 with a 9.68 earned run average after coming up from Class AAA Tacoma, where he went 7-2 and led the Pacific Coast League with a 2.63 ERA.

Wednesday, Blackley struggled again with his control but got a no-decision against the A’s, earning a blunt assessment from pitching coach Bryan Price.

“We need to see better command,” Price said. “He got pitches up and he missed his target a lot. He needs to pitch better.”

Blackley gave up five hits in five innings, but three of them were home runs and he threw just 51 strikes in his 93 pitches. Few of them were first-pitch strikes.

Price’s theory is that game-time adrenaline has caused Blackley to get away from the mechanics that made him so successful at Tacoma.

“He’s got good stuff on the side, but it’s different between the lines,” Price said. “When he settles in and throws the ball the way he was throwing in Tacoma, he will be successful. We’ve got to bridge that gap somehow.

“Each time he goes out there and takes the ball, he gets closer to being more comfortable on the mound and becoming the guy that we’ve expected to see here. But he needs to be better than he’s been.”

Soriano impressive: Rafael Soriano took another big step toward his return from an elbow injury when he made several hitters look feeble in a short simulated game Saturday afternoon.

Mixing a wicked breaking pitch with his fastball, Soriano didn’t give up a hard-hit ball in the 30 pitches he threw to Willie Bloomquist, Justin Leone, Dave Hansen, Miguel Olivo and coach Mike Aldrete.

“The most impressive thing was the swings they were taking on the breaking ball,” manager Bob Melvin said. “They weren’t recognizing it. When he’s good, you have to start your bat early for his fastball and it’s difficult to get that breaking ball when he throws it. That’s why you see the bad swings.”

Soriano will work out in the bullpen with the Everett AquaSox on Monday, then join the Tacoma Rainiers on Wednesday for the first of at least two rehab appearances. He’ll pitch one inning Wednesday.

“We’ll play it by ear,” Melvin said. “He’s going to go back-to-back games before he comes here.”

Soriano has been on the disabled list since May 12 because of a sprained right elbow.

Being careful: If it looks like Raul Ibanez is being careful with his left hamstring, he is.

Ibanez tweaked the hamstring in the first inning Friday night when he ran hard and made a tumbling attempt to catch a fly in shallow left field. Later in the game, he favored it noticeable while running to first base on an eight-inning ground out.

“That’s OK. I’d rather he be aware of it and be careful,” Melvin said. “When he made that dive, I think he realized it was still there.”

Ibanez spent about a month on the disabled list after suffering a strained hamstring in early June.

Heads up in the seats: Batting practice has taken on a new dimension since Bucky Jacobsen joined the Mariners, although even he stood in awe at Ichiro Suzuki’s show of power Saturday afternoon.

During his second round of batting practice, Suzuki hit all seven pitches over the right field fence, including four of them that reached the second deck of the grandstand.

Kirby Arnold, Herald Writer

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