Weaver struggles

  • By Kirby Arnold / Herald Writer
  • Sunday, March 4, 2007 9:00pm
  • Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Jeff Weaver made his Mariners debut Sunday and, not surprising for pitcher who has fought mechanical issues much of his career, he struggled in his first outing.

Weaver threw 50 pitches in two innings, just 24 of them strikes, and gave up three runs on five hits and a walk in the Mariners’ 5-4 loss to the San Francisco Giants.

“I was up in the zone because I couldn’t get my timing down,” Weaver said.

Manager Mike Hargrove wasn’t concerned.

“When he kept the ball down, he was effective,” Hargrove said. “It was a very typical first outing.”

Weaver said he is trying to use his legs more in order to take the stress off his arm, and his timing isn’t where it needs to be.

“I was landing a little bit later than I was hoping,” he said. “I fell behind in the count a lot and that (allowing three runs) is what happens. But my arm feels good.”

Mariners pitching coach Rafael Chaves has worked with Weaver to use his legs more in his drive toward the plate.

“Hopefully, it will help me endurance-wise and take some of the stress off my shoulder and arm so I can get back to working in the seventh or eighth innings on a consistent basis and not tire out in the middle innings,” said Weaver, who will continue to work on it in his next bullpen session. “We’ll work on the same things, repetition, doing it over and over again so you don’t have to think about it when you’re out there.”

Ibanez hurt: Left fielder Raul Ibanez tweaked his left shoulder while trying to check his swing in the sixth inning.

“We don’t think it’s anything serious,” Hargrove said.

Ibanez tried to hold up on a two-strike pitch from the Giants’ Steve Kline and couldn’t, striking out. Ibanez left the game, although he was scheduled to come out of the game at that point anyway.

Roster roulette: With some position players injured and two games for the Mariners to play Sunday, making out the lineup cards was a supreme challenge for Hargrove.

The Mariners played split-squad games against the Giants in Scottsdale and the Diamondbacks in Tucson, and it was impossible for Hargrove to put four regulars in his lineups. It’s not a hard rule for exhibition games, but teams are strongly urged to field lineups with regulars.

Second baseman Jose Lopez and catcher Jeff Clement were not available because of injuries, middle infielder Oswaldo Navarro was limited because of a sprained knee and outfielder Jose Guillen could only DH because of his recovery from elbow surgery.

Compounding the situation were a few players who asked to play Sunday in Scottsdale and not Tucson – about two hours away – because they wanted to meet family members at nearby Sky Harbor Airport.

Hargrove granted those requests.

“A couple of guys I originally had on the Tucson list had legitimate reasons to go to Scottsdale,” Hargrove said. “If you don’t let them do it, it’s a burr under the saddle for a long time. A needless burr, I think.”

Of note: Saturday’s 1-0 loss was the Mariners’ first shutout since the Royals beat then 6-0 on March 9, 2005. The last time the Mariners lost 1-0 in a spring training game was March 23, 1986, against the Giants. … The Mariners’ minor-league spring training camp opened Sunday when pitchers and catchers reported. The Mariners were scheduled to have 78 pitchers and 17 catchers, who will take physical exams today and work out for the first time on Tuesday. Fifty-eight position players will report Thursday and hold the first full-squad workout Saturday.

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