PEORIA, Ariz. - Miguel Olivo caught two scoreless innings Saturday, hammered his first hit of the spring and then, in the span of a few steps, may have changed the opening day roster of the Seattle Mariners.
While scoring from third base on a sacrifice fly, Olivo appeared to stumble before landing face-down on the dirt short of home plate. He reached out to touch the plate, then waved for trainer Rick Griffin.
The news wasn’t good.
The man the Mariners signed this winter to a two-year, $8 million contract, Olivo was diagnosed with a strained right groin muscle and will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test on Monday to determine the seriousness of the injury.
“All we can do is hope for the best-case scenario,” manager Eric Wedge said. “You hate to see anything like that happen.”
Although Olivo was later seen walking gingerly out of the clubhouse, he was in obvious pain on the field – at one point putting nearly all his weight on Griffin as he was helped toward the dugout. An inning later, he was taken to the clubhouse by cart.
Teammate Erik Bedard, the pitcher Olivo caught for two shutout innings, was asked to put the injury in perspective.
“What I did today won’t mean a thing if Miguel is hurt badly,” Bedard said.
Should Olivo’s injury cost him significant time this spring – or land him on the disabled list – the Mariners would probably rely on Adam Moore and veteran Josh Bard behind the plate.
BEDARD STILL SHARP
Bedard’s second start of the exhibition season extended his scoreless innings streak to three.
Following up his nine-pitch inning of work against San Diego, Bedard threw a 12-pitch first inning against Cleveland, then threw 22 more in his second inning Saturday.
“I feel fine,” Bedard said. “This spring is all about getting my arm ready for the season. I’m trying to get my stamina going, but it’s too early to get excited.”
Not for the Mariners.
“I like everything he’s doing,” Wedge said. “He’s moving his fastball around, using his secondary pitches well, throwing strikes. Erik knows how to pitch.”
VARGAS ADDS CURVE
Jason Vargas figures if he could pitch a career-high 193 innings with three pitches last season, a fourth pitch might make his life on the mound simpler.
So he came up with one – a curveball.
“Last year when I threw it, it was more for show. I never got beat with it because I never threw it in that situation,” Vargas said. “Some guys have a really great breaking ball – like Felix (Hernandez) and Erik – and the rest of us have to work on it and work on it.
“I have a good change. It’s a feel thing, which pitch you have the best feel for.
“I don’t think you can teach a great curve.”
That said, Vargas now believes he has one that’s good enough to throw for a strike when he needs it.
“It’s another pitch that can help me get ahead in a count, or get back in the count,” Vargas said. “Last year I got by with my fastball, change and cutter. This season, the third or fourth time through a lineup, it’s nice to have that fourth pitch I have confidence in – and something I haven’t shown hitters to that point.”
Seattle snapped a three-game losing streak by beating Cleveland, 7-2, riding solid pitching and a three-RBI game from center fielder Franklin Gutierrez. Seattle used eight pitchers and seven didn’t allow a run. The Mariners don’t want to say it, but the chances of newly signed left-hander James Paxton pitching while in big-league camp are remote. He hasn’t faced live hitting in at least nine months, and the last thing they want him to do is try to show them too much too soon. He’ll likely throw a few bullpen sessions and head to minor league camp. That’s one of the prices of holding out. Jack Wilson was in the original lineup at second base but when he arrived, trainers sent him home because of a flu-like illness.
Seattle plays at 12:05 p.m. (PDT) today against San Francisco in Scottsdale, Ariz., with 710-AM broadcasting. Probable starting pitchers: Nate Robertson vs. Tim Lincecum.