Leaving spring training behind

ryan.divish@thenewstribune.comApril 5, 2013 

OAKLAND — Michael Morse hit a bunch of home runs in spring training – nine in 20 games. Morse has already hit a bunch of home runs in the regular season – four in four games.

That last player to do that for the Seattle Mariners? It was Ken Griffey Jr. in 1997.

So is this just a carryover from a fantastic spring training?

Not so fast.

Morse doesn’t think that way. The spring numbers were nice – he set a franchise record for most homers in spring training. But this is the regular season.

Morse was quick to point out how meaningless those spring numbers were because it wasn’t the regular season. It also means that all the gaudy offensive numbers the Mariners put up at spring training should also be left behind in Arizona as well.

“I think if you ask any of the guys, we aren’t thinking about spring anymore,” he said. “That’s over with. Now we are adjusting to the season, which is a whole other ballgame.”

It’s a ballgame that is much more difficult, filled with specialty relievers, tougher pitching match-ups and less-than-friendly hitting conditions.

In Thursday’s 8-2 loss to Oakland, the Mariners got eight hits but had several hard-hit balls get caught.

“Any time guys are putting the barrel on the ball, it means they are seeing it and getting their foot down early,” Morse said. “I think we are right where we want to be.”

IWAKUMA FIGHTS BLISTER

Hisashi Iwakuma threw a bullpen session Thursday morning as scheduled. But he threw almost no breaking or offspeed pitches.

It’s not that Iwakuma needed to work on his fastball command, that’s fine.

It was to prevent a nasty blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand from getting worse.

“The offspeed pitches make it worse,” Mariners trainer Rick Griffin said. “We just keep him with fastballs in his bullpens.”

Iwakuma has battled the issue since spring training.

It got worse in Iwakuma’s final start of the spring against the Chicago Cubs when the patch of dry skin on the blister came loose and he bit it off while sitting on the bench.

That was a bad decision.

“The skin was there to protect it,” Griffin said.

In his first start of the season Tuesday, the blister started getting tender after about six innings and Mariners manager Eric Wedge lifted Iwakuma to keep it from getting worse.

“We treat it every day,” Griffin said. “He needs all five days to get it ready.”

Eventually a callus will build around the blister, which is just off the inside of the fingernail.

“I just want to know it’s going to keep getting better,” Wedge said.

ON TAP

The Mariners open a three-game series today in Chicago at U.S. Cellular Field against the White Sox. Seattle will send right-hander Blake Beavan to the mound. The White Sox will go with left-hander Jose Quintana. First pitch is set for 5:10 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Root Sports and 710-AM.

Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483 ryan.divish@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @RyanDivish

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