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Snell is ready to go

Mariners’ starting pitcher ‘can’t wait for season to start’

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By Kirby Arnold
Herald Writer
  • The Mariners’ Ian Snell allowed four hits and three runs in six innings against Dodgers.

    Tony Dejak / Associated Press

    The Mariners’ Ian Snell allowed four hits and three runs in six innings against Dodgers.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — As bloody socks go, the one Seattle Mariners pitcher Ian Snell pulled off his right foot Saturday is no match on the infamy meter with the Curt Schilling hosiery that’s in the Hall of Fame.
Snell’s sock — and the skin he wore off the top of his foot — did represent a successful outing in his next-to-last spring training outing. He allowed four hits and three runs in six innings of the Mariners’ 3-1 loss to the Dodgers.
Snell was pleased that, for the most part, he kept the baseball down and had a much better handle on his breaking pitches than in his last start.
“The mound was so hard, it cut my foot,” said Snell, who nearly wore out a new shoe as he dragged his right foot off the rubber during each of the 88 pitches he threw. “(Pitching coach) Rick Adair was happy because I was keeping my foot down.”
Snell gave up two hits and Brad Ausmus’ sacrifice fly in the Dodgers’ two-run second inning, then Andre Ethier’s solo home run in the third.
“Stupid pitch,” Snell said. “Some pitches were up and I paid for it, but (overall) I made good quality pitches. I was using my offspeed more than I have in the past.”
Snell struggled with his breaking pitches in his last couple of starts and was hit hard because of it. Saturday, he retired the last 10 hitters he faced and 14 of his last 15.
“All I was relying on were fastball and changeup, and it’s kind of hard to pitch with two pitches when you’re a four-pitch guy,” he said. “I’ve worked really hard on that the past couple of days. Adair’s been getting on me and helping me. It’s paying off.
“I can’t wait for the season to start.”
Major progress in a minor setting
Ryan Rowland-Smith was eating breakfast with relief pitcher Brandon League on Thursday when he talked about the bullpen session he was scheduled to throw that day. Rowland-Smith planned to work on his fastball and changeup, but he lamented that it was difficult to manage the same intensity in the bullpen as he would in a game.
League had an idea: Pitch in a game.
“Why don’t you throw an inning in a minor league game?” he asked.
Rowland-Smith ran the idea past pitching coach Rick Adair, and that afternoon he pitched one inning in a minor league exhibition on the lower practice fields at the Mariners’ spring training complex.
“I got a lot out of it,” he said. “In a bullpen session, you stay nice and controlled. But in a game I was able to work at a high level of intensity, everything was crisp and there was sharpness like you would have in a game. The more hitters you face, the more you can read their reaction to your pitches and you can identify good things and bad things.
“It was a really valuable thing for me and I wouldn’t mind doing it again. Although it’s not like I’ll be going up to Everett or down to Tacoma to do my side sessions during the season.”
Tui time
The final days of spring training are when young players often crumble under the pressure to win a roster spot.
Matt Tuiasosopo is hardly crumbling.
He homered in his only at-bat Saturday, hitting a 2-1 pitch from Russ Ortiz out to left field for the Mariners’ only run of the game.
Tuiasosopo is batting .341 and playing solid defense everywhere the Mariners put him — second base, third, shortstop and left field. The Mariners’ final bench job could come down to him and Josh Wilson.
RHP Pauley sent down
Besides Mike Sweeney, right-handed pitcher David Pauley performed better than any of the Mariners’ non-roster invitees.
Pauley went 1-0 with a 3.52 earned run average in 151/3 innings and showed the Mariners that he can start or fill a long relief role. It’ll have to be as a callup, because the Mariners re-assigned Pauley to their minor league camp on Saturday.
“I told him we have a belief system in him,” manager Don Wakamatsu said. “He had a great spring and there was nothing more he could have done. He did a great job. He gives us a lot of options. He will go down and start.”
Actually, Pauley will stay up and start.
He’ll pitch Wednesday’s exhibition against the Texas Rangers. That would have been Felix Hernandez’s game to start, but he’ll pitch in a minor league intrasquad game Wednesday. The Mariners want to avoid having him pitch to the Rangers just 10 days before his second start of the regular season, April 10 at Texas.
Today in camp
The Mariners face Lou Piniella and the Chicago Cubs at 1:05 p.m. at Peoria (FSN TV and ESPN 710 AM radio). Rowland-Smith will start for the Mariners, who also are scheduled to pitch right-handers David Aardsma, Mark Lowe, Kanekoa Texeira and Shawn Kelley. Right-hander Ryan Dempster will start for the Cubs.
Of note
When Hernandez pitches his final spring training game Wednesday, not only will it be in a minor league game, it’ll be an intrasquad against Mariners farmhands. Wednesday is a “camp day” when there are no exhibition games against other teams. ... Closer David Aardsma gave up one hit in a scoreless inning, pitching better Saturday than in his last game when he allowed two runs in the seventh inning Wednesday against the Padres. “I thought he had better down angle and more life to his pitches,” Wakamatsu said. ... The Mariners say there should be enough time to push Doug Fister’s pitch count to an acceptable level if he becomes the fifth starter. He’ll start Monday and throw 60-65 pitches, pitching coach Rick Adair said. Then he would be able to throw about 90 pitches in his final tuneup next weekend. Fister, who missed a start after he was hit by a line drive on his right (pitching) forearm March 19, threw 30 pitches over two innings in a minor league game on Friday. ... Saturday’s game drew 13,583 at the Dodgers’ Camelback Ranch ballpark, setting an all-time Cactus League single-game attendance record. The Mariners have played in four of the top 10 most-attended games, including the third-largest crowd, 13,444, on March 20 at Peoria against the Diamondbacks, and the 10th-largest (13,171) in 2004 against the Diamondbacks. The Chicago Cubs have been involved in six of the top 10 crowds.
Story tags » Mariners

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