PEORIA, Ariz. - Alex Liddi got plenty of phone calls, texts and Facebook messages after hitting a grand slam in Wednesday's 9-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
After hitting his second grand slam in as many days Thursday in Seattle’s 10-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels, he expects to be bombarded this time.
“Everybody was happy; it will probably happen again,” he said.
Liddi stepped to the plate with bases loaded in the fifth inning and crushed a 2-1 fastball off Ryan Chaffee over the fence in left-center field to clear the bases.
“The pitch was just right on the middle, in a little bit, and I turned on it a little bit,” he said. “But I was trying to hit it over the second baseman to get two runs in with the bases loaded.’’
It sounds similar to his approach to his grand slam Wednesday, when he hit a 3-2 fastball to left off former Mariner Jon Huber.
“He left a fastball over the plate, and I was just thinking to hit the ball hard, not hit a home run,” Liddi said.
Liddi doesn’t consider himself a home run hitter. He’s more of a doubles hitter. The two home runs were just stinging line drives.
“Home runs just happen,” he said. “I know I can hit doubles and bring some guys in. I don’t hit high home runs. They are line drives that keep going.”
Hitting grand slams on consecutive days certainly caught the eye of Mariners manager Eric Wedge.
“It’s nice to see him swinging the bat the way he is swinging it,” Wedge said. “He’s standing up there with a lot of confidence.”
Liddi hit .281 with 15 homers and 92 RBI with a .353 OBP and .476 slugging percentage last year in Double-A West Tennessee.
It seems likely he will start the season with Triple-A Tacoma.
“The physical tools are all there,” Wedge said. “He’s impressed me the entire camp. I loved the way he played third base in the ‘B’ game the other day. The at-bats have been more consistent.”
Liddi is just trying to slow things down and not press.
“It’s for every at-bat, no matter if I have people on base or not, you have a chance to show them what you can do,” he said. “You have to relax and calm down, even though it’s not easy.”
Liddi was ranked fourth in the Mariners’ top 10 prospects, according to Baseball America in 2010. But he fell out of the top 10 in the 2011 top prospects list. There have been questions about his range at third base.
“I still need to get better there and work every day,” he said. “I’m not there yet.”
GUTIERREZ ON LEAVE
Outfielder Franklin Gutierrez has left Peoria and flown to Florida with his wife, Vivian, to be by the side of her father, Luis Salazar, who is in the hospital.
Salazar is a minor league manager for the Braves. During a game this week, he was struck in the face in the dugout on a line drive by Braves catcher Brian McCann. He suffered extensive facial injuries and has had two surgeries since being hit Wednesday. He was unconscious for almost 20 minutes.
“He did the right thing to go home,” Wedge said of Gutierrez. “It’s a tough situation. You see it happen every night, whether you see baseballs rocket into a dugout or the stands. I’ve always been a big proponent of bringing the nets farther down the line just to protect the fans from baseballs or flying bats.”
RAY ON THE MEND
Closer candidate Chris Ray has been bothered by a sore left calf in recent days. He threw a simulated game Wednesday and will be out of Cactus League action for a while longer. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session and then one more simulated game before getting back into regular games.
Ray was surprised to feel the calf get sore during some running workouts.
“I’ve never done anything to my calf before. I didn’t realize there was any muscle in there,” he said with a laugh.
But Ray wasn’t about to take any chances. He can pitch, and it doesn’t affect his mechanics, but he was a little concerned about having to sprint off the mound to cover first base on a ground ball to the right side.
“It was one of those things where it got really sore and they didn’t want to push it,” he said. “You know if I go cover and I tear it, I’m out four to six weeks.”
Instead, he’s missing just a handful of games and likely two appearances.
“This is the time of the season if you want to miss games,” he said. “Even if I come back in six days, there’s still 15 days of spring; that’s enough to get in six more games.”
Ray would be more concerned if the injury didn’t allow him to throw.
“It’s not like my arm is falling behind,” he said.
The Mariners take on the Cleveland Indians at 12:05 p.m. today in Goodyear, Ariz. Michael Pineda is scheduled to start for Seattle; Cleveland’s starter had not been announced. The game will be broadcast on 710-AM.