Mailbag: What's lowdown on Lowe?

Mailbag: What's lowdown on Mark Lowe?

The first two months of the regular season are behind us, and the dog days of summer are rapidly approaching. Center fielder Ichiro Suzuki had a typically solid month of May and appears headed for another starting appearance in the All-Star Game, which will be played in San Francisco's AT&T Park. But a lot of questions are ahead as the team attempts to keep its playoff hopes alive. We're here to answer as many questions as we can.

Do the Mariners have a team captain? If so, who is it?
-- Mike H., Kirkland, Wash.

There has been only one captain in franchise history, and that was shortstop Spike Owen in 1986. Manager Mike Hargrove does not believe in the team-captain concept.

Whatever happened to last year's phenom pitcher Mark Lowe, and old star Arthur Rhodes? Are they still on the disabled list, or have they been released from the team?
-- David G., Gig Harbor, Wash.

Both are on the 60-day disabled list. Lowe continues to work his way back from arthroscopic elbow surgery and currently is on a rehab program in Peoria, Ariz. He recently began throwing off a mound, a major step in his comeback, and could be ready to join a Minor League team in a month or so. If all goes well, he could return to the Mariners later in the season -- perhaps in July or August.

Rhodes, meanwhile, is at his home near Baltimore recovering from surgery on his left elbow. He will not return to the team this season and there's a good chance that his career has ended.

Where is Jeremy Reed, and is there a chance we'll see him in the Mariners outfield this year?
-- Wendy Q., Oak Harbor, Wash.

Through 52 games and 208 at-bats with the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers, Reed was batting .279 with four home runs and 29 RBIs. The outfielder, acquired from the White Sox in the Freddy Garcia trade in 2004, would be one of the options the Mariners would have if there was a disabling injury to Raul Ibanez, Ichiro or Jose Guillen. The 25-year-old Reed might be among the players Seattle would deal, although there are no indications that his name has come up in any trade talks.

I know Safeco Field is pitcher-friendly, but is that the reason the Mariners have had run-production problems from 2004 to this season? Would the Mariners acquire Justin Morneau or Ken Griffey Jr., to shore up better run production?
-- Stephen K., St. Paul, Minn.

Scoring runs in May was not a problem for the team, which scored 161 times (on a team-record 309 hits for May) after scoring 90 in April. But you are correct about the lack of run production in recent seasons. There are several reasons for it, and I think one of them has to be the annual change in hitting coaches. Current hitting coach Jeff Pentland is the first to last more than one season since Gerald Perry in 2000 through '02. Lamar Johnson ('03), Paul Molitor ('04) and Don Baylor ('05) were one-and-out hitting coaches.

Why wasn't Cha Seung Baek in the original pitching rotation at the beginning of the year? It seems like he always gives the Mariners a chance to win every time he is on the mound. Is there a chance he will be in the rotation at the beginning of next year?
-- Garret H., Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Baek might have started the season as the No. 5 starter, but that changed on Jan. 30, the day the Mariners signed right-hander Jeff Weaver for $8.235 million. Weaver had much more Major League experience than Baek and was coming off a stellar World Series with the Cardinals. The acquisitions of starters Horacio Ramirez (in a trade with the Braves for reliever Rafael Soriano) and Miguel Batista (signed as a free agent to a three-year, $24 million contract), pushed Baek even further down the depth chart. And, in case you forgot, Baek had a rough Spring Training, posting an 0-2 record and 10.00 ERA in four games, including two starts. It is way too early to predict who will be in the rotation next season.

There are two strikes on the hitter, and he fouls it straight back and the catcher catches the ball, but not cleanly. Is the hitter out or does his at-bat stay alive?
-- Darrin K., Longview, Wash.

Not sure what you mean by "cleanly." If he juggles the ball, but catches it before it hits the ground or a piece of his equipment, then the batter is out.

I have never understood how you get a save. So how do you qualify for a save?
-- Tim H., Seattle

To record a save, the relief pitcher must meet all of the following conditions: Be the final pitcher used in a game won by his club; not be the winning pitcher; and he enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning. He also gets a save if he enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run on base, at bat or on deck, or he pitches effectively for at least three innings. The "save" became an official statistic in 1970, although research has identified saves earned prior to that point.

I was wondering why the Mariners decided not to pick Tim Lincecum with their first pick last year? I know Brandon Morrow has done a great job as a reliever, but the Mariners could have had one of the best 1-2 punches in the game with Felix Hernandez and Lincecum. They would both be in their early 20s and could have been like a Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano. It would have made sense because Lincecum has only played in Washington. Any reason why they decided to pass on him?
-- Aaron Y., Bellingham, Wash.

The Mariners passed on Lincecum for the same reasons nine other organizations passed on him before the Giants made him the 10th overall pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. Though he had a great career at the University of Washington, his size (5-11, 170 pounds) was one strike against him, and his delivery was considered to be more susceptible to injury than other pitchers available in that draft.

I was just wondering what it means to be on the 40-man roster, but not the active roster. For example, Reed, now in Tacoma, is still on the 40-man roster, but obviously is not on the active roster. I was just wondering what the difference is?
-- Christine M., Seattle

Every Major League team maintains a 25-man roster and a 40-man roster of players, year-round. The 25-man roster is the list of eligible players that can play in a Major League game. The 40-man roster includes the 25-man roster plus players in the Minor Leagues, as well as players on the 15-day disabled list. From Sept. 1 through the end of the regular season, active rosters are expanded to a limit of 40 players. Thus, clubs may freely add any of these 15 players to its active roster, giving them the opportunity to play in the Major Leagues near the end of the season.

Why do baseball games start at five minutes or eleven minutes after the hour?
-- Mae H., Port Orchard, Wash.

It's mostly about providing time for radio and TV commercials.

If there is a runner on first and the batter hits a ground ball that a fielder chooses to throw to second, the batter is on with a fielder's choice. What happens in the same situation when there is a throwing error to second and both runners are safe? Does the batter still have a fielder's choice, or has the batter reached on error?
-- Ruth L., Briar, Wash.

If the official scorer decides that the runner going into second base would have been "out" with a good throw, then the runner reaches base on an error and the batter would reach on a fielder's choice. However, if the official scorer believes the runner going into second would have beaten the throw, and the player fielding the ball had no play at first base (Ichiro was probably the batter), then the batter would be given a hit.

What is a walk-off homer?
-- Alice H., Langley, Wash.

A walk-off home run ends the game.

Jim Street is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.