M’s update

  • Monday, July 24, 2006 9:00pm
  • Sports

Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays

When: 7:05 p.m.

Where: Safeco Field

TV: Fox Sports Net

Radio: KOMO (1000 AM)

Pitchers: Seattle right-hander Gil Meche (9-4, 3.83 earned run average) vs. Roy Halladay (12-2, 3.08).

Concern over Soriano

Manager Mike Hargrove doesn’t believe pitcher Rafael Soriano’s shoulder issue is anything serious.

Still, a serious on-field discussion involving Hargrove, pitching coach Rafael Chaves and members of the team medical staff illustrated the level of concern for the hard-throwing right-hander.

Soriano hasn’t been able to pitch the past four games and Hargrove said he also won’t pitch tonight. He missed five games early this month because of a similar shoulder issue.

“It’s the same thing he had last time,” Hargrove said. “It just doesn’t feel right. Last time we kept him out about five days and he was fine after that.”

It left the Mariners’ bullpen especially thin Monday in the series opener against the Blue Jays. Mark Lowe had thrown the previous two games, as had closer J.J. Putz, and Hargrove hoped to avoid using them a third straight time.

Lowe, a rookie who started this season at the Class A level, has become a savior. Besides a 98-mph fastball that has allowed him to pitch 72/3 scoreless innings since he was called up, he has taken over the late-inning setup role in Soriano’s absence.

“With Lowe, we can absorb this easier than we could a couple weeks ago,”

Hargrove said. “Still, it’s not good. But we don’t think this is anything serious.

He’s got strength in it, and that’s encouraging. It just doesn’t feel right.

Lopez a father: Second baseman Jose Lopez returned to the Mariners on Monday after three days in Venezuela to witness the birth of his son.

Jose Lopez Jr. was born Friday, and Senior said he crumbled at the experience.

“I cried,” he said. “But he looked good. He looked like Daddy.”

The difficult part was saying good-bye to the baby and mother, Katarina Castillo, to return to the Mariners. Lopez, who was expected back at Safeco Field on Sunday, didn’t arrive until Monday.

He flew to Miami on Sunday and caught the first available flight to Seattle early Monday morning.

“I was up at 4:30,” he said.

For that reason, Hargrove held him out of the starting lineup Monday night.

Of note: Hargrove on Sunday’s dramatic victory, when Richie Sexson’s home run in the ninth beat the Red Sox after Jason Varitek tied the score with a homer with two outs in the top of the ninth: “It was a great finish. It would have been a horrible finish if we’d have lost. I’m not sure that we wouldn’t have lost a game like that earlier in the season. Our guys are playing hard every out.” … Toronto center fielder Vernon Wells was pulled from the lineup before Monday’s game because of a back injury. … Right-hander Sean Green will throw a simulated game on Wednesday as he recovers from back spasms. He has been on the disabled list since July 3. … Pitcher Jorge Campillo, who had Tommy John elbow surgery last year, has been pitching rehab games at rookie-level Peoria and may be ready to join one of the Mariners’ full-season minor league clubs around Aug. 1.

Kirby Arnold, Herald Writer

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