Hernandez's strong start 'very pleasing' to Mariners

Seattle ace rebounds from rough Cactus League outing

Hernandez's strong start 'very pleasing' to Mariners

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Mariners lost to the Royals, 3-0, on Thursday at Peoria Stadium. But really only one thing mattered in this one. Felix Hernandez looked King-ly and thus all was well.

"I feel like I'm where I want to be," Hernandez said after firing six innings of two-hit, one-run ball. "I'll be ready for Opening Day."

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners' bullpen battle remains wide open

Closer Rodney the only lock for possible seven-man relief corps

Mariners' bullpen battle remains wide open

PEORIA, Ariz. -- While much of the focus on Mariners pitching this spring has swirled around the fifth-starter competition between Taijuan Walker and Roenis Elias, there is an even deeper and heated competition for relief spots on a club that posted the lowest bullpen ERA in baseball in 2014.

Manager Lloyd McClendon said Thursday that the only certainty is that Fernando Rodney remains the closer after racking up a Major League-leading 48 saves last season. Even after trading promising right-hander Brandon Maurer and not re-signing veteran lefty Joe Beimel, the Mariners have a surplus of quality candidates for their seven-man 'pen.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Felix turns in solid outing against Royals

Opening Day starter bounces back to allow one run in six innings

Felix turns in solid outing against Royals

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners ace Felix Hernandez threw six strong innings while allowing just two hits and one run Thursday, but Royals veteran right-hander Jeremy Guthrie was even better with 5 2/3 scoreless frames in a 3-0 Cactus League pitchers' duel, won by Kansas City, at Peoria Stadium.

Guthrie, making just his second Cactus League start after missing one turn with a stomach virus, didn't allow a baserunner until Nelson Cruz singled leading off the fifth. Seattle's only other hit off Guthrie was a single by Shawn O'Malley in the sixth.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Elias, Mariners roughed up by Brewers' bats

Seattle starter allows six runs in three-plus innings; Milwaukee hits two slams

Elias, Mariners roughed up by Brewers' bats

PHOENIX -- Brewers left fielder Khris Davis made his first Spring Training home run count Thursday, hitting a first-inning grand slam that one-hopped its way clear out of Maryvale Baseball Park in the Brewers' 15-1 victory over the Mariners.

Davis connected against Mariners left-hander Roenis Elias, who surrendered six earned runs on eight hits over three-plus innings against a Milwaukee team on a tear. The Brewers have scored at least nine runs in five of their last six games, reaching double-digit runs in four of those games.

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Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Walker: Always room to improve despite dominant spring

Righty's Cactus League scoreless streak at 18 innings after start vs. Cubs

Walker: Always room to improve despite dominant spring

PEORIA, Ariz. -- It's hard to imagine Taijuan Walker pitching much better or doing much more to impress in his battle for the Mariners' fifth-starter position, but the 22-year-old insists there's more in the tank even after running his scoreless streak to 18 innings this spring in Wednesday night's 3-2 victory over the Cubs.

"You can always be better," Walker said after holding the Cubs to two singles and a walk in six frames. "Zero walks. Especially toward the end, I got a little tired. As spring goes on, that kind of goes away."

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Zunino, Cano lead offense behind Walker vs. Cubs

Catcher, second baseman each drive in run; righty's strong spring continues

Zunino, Cano lead offense behind Walker vs. Cubs

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Young Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker hurled six more scoreless innings Wednesday, and catcher Mike Zunino hit his fourth home run of the spring as Seattle defeated the Cubs, 3-2, in a night game at Peoria Stadium.

Travis Wood, battling for the fifth spot in the Cubs' rotation, allowed three runs and five hits over five innings. The lefty was happy with his outing.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McClendon thinking about Weeks sharing leadoff role

McClendon thinking about Weeks sharing leadoff role

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Lloyd McClendon has endorsed center fielder Austin Jackson as a leadoff hitter ever since Seattle acquired him from the Tigers at last July's Trade Deadline, but the Mariners' skipper is toying with trying Rickie Weeks in that role at times this season as well.

McClendon had Weeks leading off and Jackson batting second in Wednesday night's Cactus League game against the Cubs, the second time he's tried that combination this spring. And it probably won't be the last.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cora to throw out first pitch on Opening Day

Former second baseman key to Mariners' first postseason run in 1995

Cora to throw out first pitch on Opening Day

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Former Mariners fan favorite Joey Cora will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day, the club announced Wednesday.

Cora played second base for Seattle from 1995-98 and was an integral part of the first Mariners team to make the playoffs in 1995. His emotional scene on the bench after the Mariners were knocked out of the '95 postseason by the Indians in the American League Championship Series remains a vivid memory for Seattle fans.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sucre ready for action; hip 'not going to be a big deal'

Sucre ready for action; hip 'not going to be a big deal'

PEORIA, Ariz. -- After sitting out two games with a sore hip, Jesus Sucre was ready for duty on Wednesday night, and the Mariners' backup catcher said it's time to begin pointing toward the start of the regular season.

"I feel a lot better," Sucre said prior to suiting up for bench duties against the Cubs. "I practiced yesterday and I think I'm ready to go. I still feel it a little bit, but it's OK."

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rule 5 pick Rollins rolling at Mariners camp

Lefty, 25, making case for bullpen role after Seattle selects him from Astros' organization

Rule 5 pick Rollins rolling at Mariners camp

PEORIA, Ariz. -- David Rollins sits quietly at the very last locker in the back corner of the Mariners' lengthy Spring Training clubhouse. Across from him stands a row of blank nameplates and empty chairs, a stark reminder that most of the young players originally occupying his area have now been shipped out to Minor League camp.

"I've got a little extra space," the 25-year-old said with a smile. "I kind of sit back in my little area here and listen in to people talking and stuff. I'm fine with my little island."

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Smith bringing professional approach to Mariners

Veteran outfielder homers against former club, keeps focus on contributing for Seattle

Smith bringing professional approach to Mariners

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Seth Smith came out swinging Tuesday against his former Padres club, going 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs in Seattle's 6-4 Cactus League loss at Peoria Stadium.

But playing against the team that traded him in the offseason carried no special weight for the Mariners' new right fielder.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Happ pleased with pitch count, not results

Mariners lefty seeking command of offspeed offerings

Happ pleased with pitch count, not results

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Pitching for a new team with people wondering what he's going to bring, J.A. Happ would have preferred a better impression than Tuesday's rough go in a 6-4 loss to the Padres. But the Mariners' southpaw isn't going to overreact to a Spring Training outing, and neither is his manager.

Happ gave up eight hits and six runs (five earned) in 3 2/3 innings. The veteran left-hander walked three and struck out three in an 80-pitch outing that hiked his Cactus League ERA to 7.27.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Smith launches homer on rocky day for Happ

Smith launches homer on rocky day for Happ

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Justin Upton hit his third home run of the spring and Matt Kemp added two hits as the Padres defeated the Mariners, 6-4, on Tuesday at the Peoria Sports Complex.

Austin Jackson and Seth Smith each had two hits for the Mariners. Smith, who was traded from the Padres to the Mariners in December, had a home run in the third inning, his first of Spring Training.

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Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Mariners feel pieces are in place for special '15

Rotation depth, offensive firepower have club looking like WS contender

Mariners feel pieces are in place for special '15

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Mariners are getting the attention of the rest of the American League.

This is a team that has reason to believe it can claim the AL West, but it could well find itself next October appearing in a World Series for the first time in the franchise's 38-season history.

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Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Out of options, Ramirez's time with Mariners may soon end

Club has six healthy starters ahead of righty, along with crowded bullpen

Out of options, Ramirez's time with Mariners may soon end

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Erasmo Ramirez is out of Minor League options with the Mariners, and the right-hander from Nicaragua may be running out of time as well after lasting just 1 2/3 innings in Monday's 5-0 loss to the Angels in Cactus League play.

The 24-year-old right-hander had pitched well this spring, allowing just two runs in his previous nine innings, but Ramirez's fourth start grew rocky in the second inning when he gave up four hits and four runs (two earned) while getting just two outs following a leadoff error on shortstop Willie Bloomquist.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Instead of facing Angels, Iwakuma faces Minor Leaguers

Mariners righty pleased with outing against Ranges' Triple-A affiliate

Instead of facing Angels, Iwakuma faces Minor Leaguers

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma gave up two runs and six hits over five innings on Monday in a Triple-A Minor League game against the Rangers' Round Rock club at the Peoria Sports Complex.

Iwakuma pitched in the Minor League game instead of facing the American League West-rival Angels in Seattle's Cactus League contest. The veteran faced 20 batters and threw 72 pitches with one walk and eight strikeouts.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Seeking backup to Miller, Mariners try Bloomquist at short

Veteran likely to play multiple positions in reserve role; Weeks getting work at first base

Seeking backup to Miller, Mariners try Bloomquist at short

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Mariners' infield depth has taken a hit with Chris Taylor's broken bone in his wrist, leaving Willie Bloomquist as the only experienced backup shortstop to Brad Miller.

Bloomquist, coming back from microfracture knee surgery, had played only second and first base this spring until making his first start at shortstop Monday.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

In reserve role, Ruggiano well aware preparation is key

Versatile vet competing for playing time in outfield, excited to be with Mariners

In reserve role, Ruggiano well aware preparation is key

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Justin Ruggiano knows the score. He's not the highest-profile newcomer in the Mariners' clubhouse. He'll need to fight for playing time, likely in a platoon role in right field with Seth Smith or as a backup to center fielder Austin Jackson.

But when called upon, Ruggiano needs to be ready and he's learned to make the most of every opportunity. The 32-year-old Texan hit .281 in 224 at-bats for the Cubs last season, then was acquired by the Mariners to provide another right-handed bat for manager Lloyd McClendon's arsenal.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ramirez endures first rough spring outing in loss to Halos

Mariners righty allows four runs in 1 2/3 innings, while offense comes up empty

Ramirez endures first rough spring outing in loss to Halos

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels had the highest-scoring offense in baseball last season, and that has continued right on into Spring Training, even without Josh Hamilton and Howie Kendrick.

Against Mariners right-hander Erasmo Ramirez at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Monday, the Angels' starters plated five runs in the first three innings of a 5-0 victory, which was more than enough thanks to six impressive innings by Matt Shoemaker.

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Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Paxton's return bolsters already deep Mariners rotation

Lefty tosses 3 1/3 scoreless innings in spring debut

Paxton's return bolsters already deep Mariners rotation

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon had plenty of reasons to smile after his club's 8-0 victory over the Rangers on Sunday, but the biggest easily was the returned presence of James Paxton on the mound.

The lanky left-hander threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings in his Cactus League debut after getting a late start to camp due to a bruised forearm, serving up another reminder of his potential impact on one of the American League's top pitching staffs.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Shift to outfield going seamlessly for Weeks

McClendon, Mariners waiting for converted middle infielder to be challenged more

Shift to outfield going seamlessly for Weeks

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The transition of Rickie Weeks to the outfield has gone seamlessly to date for the Mariners. So seamless that manager Lloyd McClendon keeps waiting for the former second baseman to actually get challenged in game action.

Weeks has started four games in left field this spring, but had seen just one routine fly ball come his way until Saturday's outing against the Cubs … when several home runs sailed well over his head.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Seager returns to lineup loudly with three-run homer

Third baseman sat out Saturday's game with tightness in his side

Seager returns to lineup loudly with three-run homer

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Kyle Seager was back in the Mariners' lineup for Sunday's 8-0 victory over the Rangers after being held out Saturday with some tightness in his side. The All-Star third baseman wasted no time showing he was OK.

Seager made an emphatic return with a three-run home run in the first inning off Yovani Gallardo and finished the game 1-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored. Seager's only out came on a sharp line drive off Gallardo's glove in the fifth that was hit so hard it deflected into center field, where Leonys Martin picked up the ball and threw to second in time to force Nelson Cruz.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sucre pulled from game vs. Rangers with right hip soreness

Sucre pulled from game vs. Rangers with right hip soreness

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners backup catcher Jesus Sucre was taken out of Sunday's 8-0 victory over the Rangers in the sixth inning after feeling pain in his right hip while running to first on a single.

The 26-year-old from Venezuela said the hip has been bothering him since Friday's game against the Rangers in Surprise.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cruz, Seager power Mariners to rout of Rangers

Pair of three-run homers sparks Seattle; Paxton tosses 3 1/3 scoreless innings

Cruz, Seager power Mariners to rout of Rangers

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz each crunched three-run home runs and James Paxton threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings in his Cactus League debut as the Mariners topped Texas, 8-0, on Sunday at Peoria Stadium.

Rangers starter Yovani Gallardo was hit hard, allowing eight runs in 4 2/3 innings. He allowed seven hits, including the home runs to Cruz and Seager, and walked four. He has an 11.32 ERA for the spring.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Felix brushes off shaky start against Cubs

Mariners ace has two more spring starts before Opening Day

Felix brushes off shaky start against Cubs

MESA, Ariz. -- A Mariners starting staff that had the lowest ERA in the Cactus League suffered a rare meltdown from an unexpected source Saturday as Felix Hernandez got hammered for six runs on six hits in 2 2/3 innings by the Cubs.

Pitching just his second Cactus League game of the spring, Hernandez was hit hard as he surrendered a pair of two-run blasts -- to prime prospects Kris Bryant and Addison Russell -- as well as two doubles in his abbreviated stint.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Zunino's work at the plate paying dividends this spring

Mariners catcher has focused on improving his offensive approach

Zunino's work at the plate paying dividends this spring

MESA, Ariz. -- Mike Zunino proved himself as a quality defensive catcher last year who was capable of providing some right-handed power at the plate, but the 23-year-old's continued development of his offensive game this spring is a postive sign for Seattle.

Zunino went 1-for-3 with a double, a walk and two runs scored in the Mariners' 12-10 loss to the Cubs on Saturday, putting his Cactus League average at .346 (9-for-26) in 10 games.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Close battle looms between Walker and Elias for fifth spot

Mariners manager McClendon will not make decision until next week

Close battle looms between Walker and Elias for fifth spot

PEORIA, Ariz. -- As the battle for Seattle's fifth starter in the rotation hits the stretch run, manager Lloyd McClendon said Saturday that decision will likely come in another week or so. And, no, he's still not tipping his hand in the battle between Taijuan Walker and Roenis Elias.

"They've both thrown the ball pretty good. I've been very pleased," McClendon said, now that the two youngsters each have four Cactus League outings under their belt.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Felix falters vs. phenoms, but offense keeps game tight

Cruz goes deep and Wilson adds inside-the-park homer in eighth

Felix falters vs. phenoms, but offense keeps game tight

MESA, Ariz. -- Top prospect Kris Bryant notched his third two-homer game this spring to raise his total to eight home runs, most in the Major Leagues, and Addison Russell added a two-run shot to power the Cubs to a 12-10 victory Saturday over the Mariners.

Bryant connected in the first off Mariners ace Felix Hernandez with a runner at second and one out, launching a 2-2 pitch far back onto the left-field berm. It was the first home run off Hernandez this spring.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.