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Beavan looks to regain control after hitting speed bump

Beavan looks to regain control after hitting speed bump

MESA, Ariz. -- Manager Lloyd McClendon acknowledged he was disappointed in Blake Beavan's rough outing Wednesday, when the big right-hander gave up four home runs in a 9-7 loss to the Brewers, but the 25-year-old remains in the hunt for a rotation berth as decision time approaches.

McClendon said Thursday that "nothing is set" in the rotation outside of Felix Hernandez, his Opening Day starter. But Beavan is one of four pitchers who appear to be battling for the final two starting jobs behind Hernandez, Erasmo Ramirez and James Paxton. And the tall Texan had pitched very well this spring until getting lit up for eight hits and seven runs in 5 2/3 innings by the Brewers.

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"I expect more," McClendon said. "I think he's better than what he showed yesterday. But he'll get another opportunity to get out there. I just need to see him use both sides of the plate and use all his pitches and get the ball down in the zone. He's better than what he showed."

Beavan hadn't allowed a home run in 12 2/3 innings over four appearances prior to Wednesday's blowup. He said he struggled to command his fastball and got away from the changeup that has helped keep hitters off balance in prior games.

"For the most part, I was up and they exposed that," Beavan said. "My fastball command was terrible and I'm usually a lot better than that. That was probably the most frustrating thing, but that is when I do need to have the other stuff working -- the curveball, changeup, slider and mixing in the cutter."

Beavan said he only used three or four changeups out of 93 pitches he threw, a vast departure from the successful pattern he'd been developing.

"That has helped my success in the early part of spring, so that's something to think about. I need to go back to the bullpen and work on a couple things," he said. "I just didn't have a good feel for the changeup, but those are the days you have to keep throwing it. Hopefully, you get it there in the fourth or fifth inning and it helps you get through those later innings without giving up the late-inning damage. For me, I was kind of all over the place. It was frustrating and I tried to just work through it the best I could."

Beavan has felt stronger and healthier this spring, getting back to the form of 2012, when he went 11-11 with a 4.43 ERA in 26 starts and proved to be a reliable innings eater with excellent control. So he'll try to brush off his latest setback and push for a better impression in his final spring start Monday against the White Sox.

"You just have to have short-term memory, forget about it and get ready for the next one," he said. "I'm just looking forward to getting back in the bullpen, getting back to some of the basics, working downhill and getting back in the bottom of the zone."

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.

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