PEORIA, Ariz. – Of the 34 Seattle Mariners pitchers who have appeared in a Cactus League game this spring, Hong-Chih Kuo had the 33rd highest earned run average.
It wasn’t deceiving.
A free agent left-hander signed on Feb. 4, Kuo was a National League All-Star in 2010, a mop-up man in 2011 and, this spring, has pitched in six games.
He’s had merely one 1-2-3 inning.
“It’s all about command, and I’ve been getting better, getting closer,” Kuo said. “Baseball is baseball, and when you struggle you keep working to get it right.”
With three days to go before the Mariners pack up 30 players and fly to Japan, Kuo said he doesn’t think about that departure as a deadline.
“If the team goes to Japan without me, I’ll have an opportunity here in Arizona to keep working,” the Taiwanese reliever said.
Would he pitch in minor league games in Peoria?
“Any opportunity to get work would be good,” Kuo said.
How bad has his spring been? The man who posted a 1.20 ERA in 56 games with the Dodgers two years ago has worked 62/3 innings this spring.
In those, he’s given up 15 hits, walked four and allowed five home runs. Opposing hitters are batting .417 against him.
Whether Kuo elects to start the regular season in Tacoma remains to be seen, but there is no way he will be one of the 30 players taken to Japan – not when two of the games played there will count.
Weather usually reserved for the Great Plains hit Arizona on Saturday, and after four innings of rain, hail and high winds the Mariners and Colorado Rockies were forced to call their game.
Seattle had a 3-2 lead at the time thanks to Kyle Seager’s two-run home run and an RBI single from Chone Figgins.
Hector Noesi, who was scheduled to go five innings and 80-90 pitches, got four innings and 64 pitches in, allowing two runs. His next appearance will likely be one of the exhibition games in Japan.
Shortstop Brendan Ryan, sidelined the past few days by a tight quad suffered during a baserunning blunder, is scheduled to play today.
“They were going to play me (Saturday) but thought one more day might be best,” Ryan said. “Then I was going to play (Sunday), but the forecast was cold and wet, and knowing my personality, they didn’t like that combination.”
Brendan’s personality is manic. Playing at, say, 75 percent is impossible. He goes all out or doesn’t go, and the only way he doesn’t go is if you don’t let him on the field.
“I have family here, and I feel bad about not playing – but I want to go to Japan,” Ryan said.
Anyone who’s not completely healthy isn’t going.
So Ryan spent much of Sunday morning in physical therapy – and some of it trying on new regular-season baseball caps. There were problems: the caps were either too tight or too large.
Once he found one that fit, he was handed more of the same size and began trying them on.
“These are too tight,” he said. “Maybe my brain is growing.”
Nothing that happened Sunday will count toward spring statistics since it wasn’t a complete game. That will cost Figgins two hits, Seager his third home run and Mike Wilson a double. … Jose Lopez, in camp with Cleveland, dropped by the Seattle clubhouse to see good friend Felix Hernandez. … Blake Beavan’s 15 innings pitched is the most by any pitcher in the Cactus League.
The Chicago Cubs make their annual visit to Peoria for a 1 p.m. game today that will not be broadcast. Probable starting pitchers: Travis Wood vs. Jason Vargas.