PEORIA, Ariz. - If tie games are like kissing your sister, intrasquad games are like kissing your cat: It may please you for a few moments, but you're glad there aren't a lot of people around to see it.
In the only scheduled intrasquad game of the Seattle Mariners’ spring, Team Ichiro beat Team Jack Wilson, 3-1, on Friday, in a contest marked by baserunning, pitching and the occasional timely hit.
“We wanted to kick the dust off a little,” manager Eric Wedge said.
When that dust settled, 10 pitchers had worked in the five-inning affair – and 29 position players got on the field, if not to the plate.
Ichiro had two hits, including a leadoff single against rookie Blake Beavan, who all but tipped his cap afterward.
“My heart was pounding pretty good when I got out there and saw I had to face four big-league hitters right away,” Beavan said.
“I threw him a 0-2 change-up in the dirt – and he hit it for a single,” Beavan said. “That’s the guy I grew up watching.”
No one went deep, but there were extra-base hits: doubles by Miguel Olivo, Justin Smoak, Luis Rodriguez and Adam Moore. There were five stolen bases, two by Milton Bradley, two more by Michael Saunders and one – a steal of third base – by catcher Olivo.
“We’re going to be aggressive,” Wedge said. “We’re not going to do anything halfway. Today, of course, for every stolen base we had a pitcher who wasn’t holding a runner on very well. That’s the flip-side of intrasquad games.”
Two of Seattle’s young pitchers, Josh Lueke and Dan Cortes, looked like pitchers trying to make the team immediately. Cortes worked two-thirds of an inning, then was pulled when he hit his pitch count of 25.
Lueke allowed three hits and a walk in his inning, allowing two runs and getting tagged with the loss.
Who pitched well? Michael Pineda, Beavan, Fabio Castro, Chaz Roe, Jose Flores, Yoervis Medina and Tom Wilhelmsen each threw shutout innings.
No Mariner other than Ichiro had more than one hit.
Franklin Gutierrez flew back to Arizona on Friday, though not in time to visit camp. He’s expected in this morning, and the team hopes to get test results from his stomach exams in Seattle.
Between innings, Ichiro trotted to the dugout, then leaned on the fence in front of it and stood without speaking to anyone. After one inning, he sat alone with his back against the fence. During bunting drills, rookie outfielder Greg Halman – best known for home runs and strikeouts – was as deft as almost anyone at laying down bunts. Only Michael Saunders looked better. Rick Rizzs became the first member of Seattle’s broadcast team to come into camp. Rizzs and his mates will broadcast Sunday’s charity exhibition game with the Padres at noon (PST) on 710-AM.
How rare was Olivo’s stolen base? Not very – he has 44 in his big-league career and 63 in his minor-league career, and he is considered by Wedge to be one of the best-running catchers in the game, even at age 32. Wilhelmsen, the rookie right-hander trying to come back after five years away from the game, walked one batter and struck out two in the fifth inning. Adam Kennedy started the game hitting fourth and playing first base for Team Ichiro – the first time in his career he has batted cleanup. Today is Fanfest in Peoria, and the Mariners will work out from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Peoria Stadium, with fans admitted free.