PEORIA, Ariz. – Kevin Millwood finished making his case to start for the Seattle Mariners with authority Tuesday, allowing a run in five innings against the Cincinnati Reds.
If the Mariners needed more good news on the pitching front – and what team doesn’t? – they got it when right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma pitched three shutout innings behind Millwood.
“Millwood’s a pro. You saw a couple of veteran guys that really threw the ball well,” manager Eric Wedge said. “We wanted Iwakuma to pitch out of the bullpen today, and pitch in the ‘A’ game – we’re looking at everything right now.”
That could mean Iwakuma opening the season in a long relief role – giving either Blake Beavan or Erasmo Ramirez a shot at the starting rotation.
Or, as Wedge said, it could simply have been a way to look at both pitchers on the next-to-final game in Arizona before Seattle flies to Japan.
Either way, it was a good time to have a great day.
Millwood, a 37-year-old nonroster invitee, faced 18 batters in his five innings, didn’t walk a man and struck out five, lowering his spring earned-run average to 3.21.
“I definitely feel good about where I’m at,” Millwood said.
Iwakuma, the 30-year-old right-handed free agent, faced 13 batters in three innings, didn’t walk a man, struck out three and lowered his ERA to 3.75.
PLAYING SAME WAY
Infielder Munenori Kawasaki continued his strong spring by going 3-for-5 with three singles while playing shortstop Tuesday.
The three hits left the 30-year-old nonroster player batting .350.
“This is the way I play in Japan, it’s the way I play here,” Kawasaki said through an interpreter.
Among the camp visitors Tuesday was one who walked through the Seattle clubhouse unnoticed – retired pitcher Brian Holman.
Holman, you may recall, was within one pitch of a 1990 perfect game before giving up a home run to Oakland’s Ken Phelps.
Why was he in Peoria? He dropped by to see one of the Mariners minor leaguers, son David, a 21-year-old right-handed pitcher.
With 39 players still in camp, and only 30 of them headed to Japan on Thursday, nine will be cut today as the Mariners get down to their travel roster. Before their March 28 opener, they’ll have to get down to 25. Kyle Seager (.367) had three hits Tuesday, each of them a double, and Carlos Peguero (.268) hammered his fourth home run to grab a share of the Cactus League lead. Left-hander Lucas Luetge, a 24-year-old Rule 5 player, made his sixth spring appearance a 1-2-3 inning. To keep him, the Mariners must carry Luetge on their 25-man roster all season or offer him back to Milwaukee. He’s put together a 3.00 ERA in relief. With Cactus League innings filled, Mariners pitchers Erasmo Ramirez and Brandon League threw in a minor league game Tuesday. The Mariners victory left their spring record at 12-7-1.
The final Cactus League game before Japan finds the Mariners hosting the Chicago White Sox in a 1 p.m. game that will be broadcast on 710-AM but delayed until 7 p.m. Probable starting pitchers: Chicago’s Eric Stults vs. Felix Hernandez.