March 2011

Olivo MRI shows strained adductor muscle

The MRI on catcher Miguel Olivo revealed a strained adductor muscle in his groin, as expected, the Mariners announced Monday morning.

Olivo has begun therapy on his injured left leg and will likely be able to do some throwing in the coming days, but the team will proceed cautiously because of the strain catching puts on that particular muscle.

The club said there’s been no timeline set on his return.

Olivo hurt his leg on Saturday when he felt the muscle give way after tagging up at third and running home on a sacrifice fly.

Adam Moore was scheduled to start in Olivo’s place in Monday’s Cactus League game against the A’s, but he was scratched later in the morning because of illness.

Chris Gimenez, a non-roster invitee, will now start today’s game. The other catchers on the roster are Josh Bard and 20-year-old Steven Baron.

Today’s lineups on a pitching happy day in Peoria

Good morning from Peoria, where today figures to be an interesting peek into the pitching prowess of the Mariners with both Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda slated to go this afternoon against Oakland.

Hernandez will start and go three innings in the 12:05 p.m. PT game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Pineda presumably will toss at least two innings.

Don’t expect the two to pitch side-by-side all spring, however. Even if Pineda stays on the same fifth-day schedule, he’ll throw against the same A’s squad on Saturday at Peoria Stadium, while the Mariners would like to line up a “B” squad game that day so Hernandez isn’t throwing too often against the team Seattle will open the regular season against on April 1.

Speaking of “B” games, the Mariners set one up for tomorrow against the Dodgers at 10 a.m. to allow some extra innings for the pitching staff. Luke French will start that game, followed by Yoervis Medina, Chris Seddon, Chris Smith, Justin Miller and Yusmeiro Petit.

As for today, we should learn at some point the medical update on catcher Miguel Olivo. Infielder Jack Wilson is back following his brief illness and will get his first start today at second base.

Here’s the full lineup for today’s game against the A’s:

Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chone Figgins 3B
Franklin Gutierrez CF
Mike Carp 1B
Jack Wilson 2B
Brendan Ryan SS
Michael Saunders LF
Adam Moore C
Matt Mangini DH
Felix Hernandez P

Olivo says he just needs 1-2 weeks of rest

Miguel Olivo is still waiting word like everyone else on the results of his MRI test on his strained groin muscle, but the Mariners catcher said he was feeling better than expected Sunday and plans to be back soon.

Olivo said the initial plan is for him to rest his left leg completely for 1-2 weeks, then begin riding a bike and working in a pool and see how it progresses.

“From yesterday I didn’t think I’d be able to walk right now, but I’m walking OK,” he said. ” I feel it when I push side to side. But we’ll give it 1-2 weeks and then we’ll see after that.”

Olivo said he felt a twinge when he pushed off third base after tagging up on a sacrifice fly by Sean Kazmar and then grabbed his leg as he approached home, eventually sprawling face first onto the plate.

“I just dropped,” he said. “I didn’t want to keep pushing. Things happen. And yesterday I felt better than any day in Spring Training. I know I’ll be back soon because I like to work hard and when you work hard, things get better.

“This is the first time I’ve had any injury with my body. I’m not going to be like a little baby. I’m not going to babysit that thing. I’ll work hard and follow the doctor with one week’s rest and then we’ll see.”

Olivo said the irony was that he wasn’t even running hard when the muscle gave way, since there was no throw to the plate.

“When I felt it right away I knew because I’d never had that feeling before. That’s why I went down so quick. The doctor said he was glad I did that because if I’d kept running, it would have been worse.

“I think I’ll be OK,” he said. “I guarantee you that.”

Will he be ready for Opening Day in April 1?

“I hope so,” he said. “God [willing], I know I’ll be there.”

Olivo undergoes MRI, but no word until Monday

No word yet on the condition of catcher Miguel Olivo, although he underwent his MRI test on Sunday morning on his strained left groin muscle. The outcome of that test won’t be revealed until Monday, however, when a radiologist is available to read the results.

Olivo clutched his leg and fell face down on home plate while scoring on a sacrifice fly in Saturday’s game against the Indians.

Olivo was at the Peoria facility this morning and walking around, but will be undergoing treatment and awaiting his medical tests before any determination on his status is made.

The only other injury of news so far is some back stiffness that has kept knuckleballer Charlie Haeger from throwing in a Cactus League game yet. Haeger said he’ll play catch today and hopes to be throwing normally in a few days.

WIth Olivo out, Josh Bard starts at catcher today when the Mariners travel to Scottsdale to face the World Series champion Giants at 12:05 p.m. PT.

The game will be broadcast live on 710 ESPN Seattle.

Tim Lincecum gets the start for San Francisco, which always maks things interesting. Lincecum has never faced Seattle in a regular-season game, but has thrown against them before in Spring Training.

Here’s the Mariners lineup he’ll face:

Dustin Ackley 2B
Adam Kennedy 3B
Milton Bradley LF
Jack Cust DH
Justin Smoak 1B
Ryan Langerhans CF
Carlos Peguero RF
Josh Bard C
Luis Rodriguez SS
Nate Robertson P

Also expected to pitch today are Blake Beavan, Brandon League, Garrett Olson and Chris Ray.

Olivo’s injury casts pall over Mariners victory

OlivoMiguelPain.jpgMariners catcher Miguel Olivo clutches his leg in pain after falling to the ground while scoring on a sacrifice fly during Saturday’s Cactus League game. Below, Olivo sits in frustration while waiting for a cart to take him to the clubhouse. (Photos by Lenny Ignelzi/AP)

It’s always dangerous to speculate much on injuries before the official reports are in, but without question the Mariners are concerned about the status of Miguel Olivo after the veteran catcher grabbed his leg and fell face first onto home plate while scoring on a sacrifice fly in Saturday’s 7-2 victory over the Indians at Peoria Stadium.

It was a bizarre sight — so bizarre that many in the crowd initially began laughing, thinking Olivo had taken a pratfall until he rolled over and tried to sit up in obvious pain.

OlivoMiguelHurt.jpgThere was no play at the plate on the deep fly ball by second baseman Sean Kazmar. Olivo was simply running home to score an easy run when his leg gave way.

Eventually Olivo was helped off the field and carted to the clubhouse, where the medical staff said he had a strained left groin muscle that will be further evaluated with an MRI test on Monday.

Until then, nobody is going to know or say much. But judging by Olivo’s pain and the difficulty for any athlete — particulary a catcher who spends nine innings in a crouch — to recover from those types of muscle injuries, this one could be a serious setback.

The Mariners have 27 days until they open the regular season, so there is some time. But even in a best-case scenario, their starting catcher and a guy who has quickly established himself as a leader of the young pitching staff will now miss most or all of the remaining Spring Training.

And if his injury is longer than the four-week variety, the Mariners will face some tough choices as to how to fill his absence. Adam Moore, who had lost his starting role when Seattle signed Olivo to a two-year, $6.25 million deal in free agency, now needs to step back up and grab the reins.

Veteran Josh Bard, a non-roster invitee who was competing with Moore for the backup job, suddenly seems a cinch for a spot if Olivo is out for a significant period of time.

Chris Gimenez, another non-roster guy who can play multiple positions, could have increased value. The other catcher in camp is 20-year-old Steven Baron, who has shown well with the bat in his limited opportunities so far but remains more of a long-term prospect.

We’ll find out more on Monday after the MRI tests, but suffice to say that this is the first real bad news to hit Mariners camp. Olivo had been a breath of fresh air with his vocal presence and constant enthusiasm and support of his pitchers.

He’s also a guy whose durability was one of his selling points. It will be a shame if his return is cut short by a serious injury, but we’ll have to wait and see on this one.

Figgins puts on power display in batting practice


Chone Figgins talks about his home-run hitting exploits to teammate Franklin Gutierrez after smoking three straight long balls over the fence Saturday. (Greg Johns photo)

Mariners third baseman Chone Figgins isn’t exactly known for his power, having hit one home run last year and 32 in nine seasons in the Major Leagues.

But the 5-foot-8, 180-pounder muscled up Saturday in batting practice, knocking three straight balls over the fence on the Mariners main practice field to the delight of his teammates.

After his third straight long ball, Figgins stepped out of the box and raised his arms like a victorious boxer, even though he still had two more swings to go.

“I’ve never done that before,” Figgins said of his barrage. “Not high school, not Litttle League. Then to hit ’em that good, never. It as a round of five, but I hit three and I was like, ‘You know what? That’s it. I’m done. No more.

“I thought about it later and realized I should have kept hitting,” he said with a grin. “I was rolling.”

Figgins knows he’s not a power guy, but said he’s been hitting aggressively all spring and is feeling strong.

“When I’m attacking the ball, I hit it hard,” he said. “I’ve felt good all spring. Yesterday I smoked two balls to right field (during the Mariners’ 3-1 loss to Cleveland). It’s feeling good.”

Jack Wilson scratched from lineup

Veteran infielder Jack Wilson was scheduled to make his first start of the spring at second base today against the Indians, but instead was sent home early after coming down with some sort of illness.

So much for the first shot at the new Brendan Ryan-Wilson combo that manager Eric Wedge had hinted at early in camp.

The Mariners have gone once previously with Wilson at shortstop and Ryan at second, but this would have been the first with Wilson at a different position than he’s played in his decade-long Major League career.

Instead, we’ll have non-roster invitee Sean Kazmar at second.

Here’s the full lineup for the 12:05 p.m. PT game at Peoria Stadium.

Ichiro Suzuki DH
Chone Figgins 3B
Franklin Gutierrez CF
Adam Kennedy 1B
Miguel Olivo C
Michael Saunders LF
Brendan Ryan SS
Sean Kazmar 2B
Mike Wilson RF
Erik Bedard P


Felix, Pineda will both pitch Monday against A’s


If you want to circle a Cactus League game on your schedule, mark down this Monday when the Mariners play the Oakland A’s.

Felix Hernandez will make his first Cactus League start that day and is slated to pitch three innings. He’ll be followed by Michael Pineda, the club’s star rookie prospect.

Hernandez threw 33 pitches in a simulated game on Thursday and pronounced himself ready to go.

The American League Cy Young Award winner is being lined up to start Opening Day on April 1 against those same A’s. Pitching Monday puts him on schedule to throw every fifth day until Opening Day.

Pitching coach Carl Willis said Hernandez will pitch some “B” games during the upcoming stretch rather than face American League West opponents, but he’s OK with him facing the A’s on Monday since it’s so early in spring.

That game will be at Oakland’s Phoenix Municipal Stadium at 12:05 p.m. PT.

On an every fifth-day schedule, Hernandez also would be scheduled to face Oakland again on Saturday, March 12. That one likely well get replaced with a “B” game so he’s not facing the A’s too often prior to the regular season.

He’d then face Kansas City on Thursday, March 17; the White Sox on Tuesday, March 22, and the Rangers on Sunday, March 27.

The Rangers game also likely will be replaced by a “B” squad outing.

Meanwhile, here is the Mariners lineup for today’s 12:05 p.m. PT game against the Reds:

Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chone Figgins 3B
Milton Bradley LF
Jack Cust DH
Justin Smoak 1B
Gabe Gross CF
Josh Wilson SS
Dustin Ackley 2B
Adam Moore C
Doug Fister P

Big Unit drops in on Mariners camp

RandyJohnson.JPGRandy Johnson talks with Mariners trainer Rick Griffin on Thursday at the Mariners complex in Peoria. (Photo by Greg Johns)

Yeah, there was a tall left-hander in camp on Thursday. Randy Johnson came to Peoria to visit old friend Rick Griffin, the Mariners long-time trainer, and hung around long enough to see Felix Hernandez throw his simulated game.

The Mariners then went to Glendale and lost 6-1 to the White Sox in a game where Luke French looked good in his three innings of work and then talked about how he’d tossed out some offseason adjustments and just gone back to throwing the way he knows best.

French is one of several pitchers competing for spots at the back end of the rotation. If everybody stays healthy, including Erik Bedard and Michael Pineda, he’s probably destined for Tacoma or the bullpen.

The acquisition of Aaron Laffey on Wednesday makes things a little more interesting for French since Laffey is another lefty who the Mariners say will be focused on a relief role. With Garrett Olson as well, that’s a bit of a glut. But these things tend to work themselves out and if French continues pitching well, he’ll provide a nice option.

Laffey said he might pitch Friday, but Eric Wedge said after today’s game only that Laffey would pitch “sooner rather than later.”

There’s also some question on exactly when Felix Hernandez will make his Cactus League debut. Pitching coach Carl Willis indicated Thursday morning that Hernandez would open against Oakland, whom the Mariners face on Monday. But Hernandez indicated he might pitch another sim game first and word now is that it will be clarified tomorrow morning.

So stay tuned on that one.

Felix says he’s ready after simulated game

Felix Hernandez continued his slower build-up in Spring Training by throwing 33 pitches in a simulated game on the Mariners main practice field in Peoria on Thursday morning, then pronounced himself ready and eager to get going.

Hernandez threw to an assortment of Minor League hitters in informal setting in which he recorded five strikeouts while getting eight outs, while allowing one ball that likely would have been a bloop single if defenders were actually in place.

“It’s been awhile,” Hernandez said. “I felt great.”

Hernandez will make his Cactus League debut on Monday, throwing three innings against Oakland.

“I’m ready,” he said. “I’m feeling so good, man. I was throwing strikes, the ball was in the bottom of the zone, the breaking ball was good, the changeup was alright. Everything looked good.”

Can he be better after last year’s Cy Young season?

“I think can be better. Why not,” he said. “You have to get better every year. We’ll see.”

One tall guy took in Hernandez’s throwing session Thursday. Randy Johnson was in camp to visit with trainer Rick Griffin, his good friend. The Big Unit spoke to Hernandez before he went out on the field.

“He told me I needed four more Cy Youngs,” Hernandez said. “And four thousand strikeouts just to get him.”

And Felix’s response?

“I told him, I’ll be there. Don’t worry,” Hernandez said with a laugh.