Impact of Safeco Field's closer fences negligible, so far

Staff writerApril 18, 2013 

The Mariners’ first homestand at reconfigured Safeco Field ended Thursday without the shorter dimensions making a major impression on the club’s offensive numbers, or on manager Eric Wedge.

“It’s zero impact for me,” he said before Seattle’s 2-0 win over Detroit. “The way we’re going to be a better offensive club is by our players, and them doing what they need to do. Maybe it comes into play a little bit in the summer. The air density or whatever you call it is still the same. A couple of balls (Wednesday) night were hit pretty good. You would think, ‘Well, if they moved in the fences they would go.’ Well, guess what? They still didn’t go.”

The Mariners went 4-6 and scored 31 runs with seven home runs over the 10-game stretch against the Astros, Rangers and Tigers.

Those games were the first at Safeco since the offseason renovations that moved in the left and left-center field wall, which reduced the power alley from 390 feet to 378 feet.

The changes were made not only to shorten the park’s dimensions, but also to get its reputation as a pitchers’ park out of the heads of Mariners hitters.

“It’s just one more thing to check off the list that we don’t have to worry about, and it’s not in the back of your mind anymore,” Wedge said. “It should allow us just to focus more on performing and hitting, and I think it will. I think it’s a positive thing. It’s a fair ballpark. It probably still edges on the pitchers’ side of things, just because of where we are; but that’s OK too.”

ARM FROM TACOMA

Effects of the Mariners’ 14-inning loss on Wednesday continued into Thursday, when the club called up right-handed pitcher Hector Noesi from the Tacoma Rainiers.

A key factor in the move was Noesi’s fresh arm – a valuable commodity after the club went through six pitchers in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to Detroit.

“We needed somebody who could give us length,” Wedge said. “It was Noesi’s day to pitch … so we flip-flopped him and (Bobby LaFromboise, who was optioned to Tacoma).”

Noesi, who didn’t appear in Thursday’s game, said despite the short-term nature of the commitment, he was happy to get the call.

“I want to be here,” he said. “I’ve tried to pull everything together to come here. … I’m going to be in the bullpen from now on. When I was with the Yankees I was a reliever the whole year. I have to roll with it. It’s not bothering me.”

SHORT HOPS

A blister on the middle finger of the right hand limited starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma to 70 pitches in six innings. Iwakuma and the Mariners have been managing the injury since the final game of spring training. “(We’re) trying to be careful in between starts; not to put too much pressure on it or anything that would really irritate it,” Wedge said. “But … you’ve still got to keep your arm going. It’s just a fine line.” Iwakuma said through a translator that he expects to be ready for his next turn in the rotation. “I’ve been fighting through the whole situation,” he said. “I should be OK.” … Kyle Seager extended his hitting streak to seven games and Justin Smoak extended his to five. Tom Wilhelmsen earned his sixth save and has saved six of Seattle’s seven wins. … Catcher Kelly Shoppach had a single, raising his numbers to 6-for-15 (.400) on the homestand with a run, a double, a homer, two RBI and a walk in six games.

ON TAP

The Mariners open a six-game trip with a 5:05 p.m. game today at Texas. Left-hander Joe Saunders (1-1, 2.08 ERA) is expected to oppose Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish (2-1, 2.75). The game will be broadcast on Root Sports and 710-AM.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808
don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com
@donruiztnt

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