Oakland – Given the time difference between Arizona and Italy, Alex Liddi asked his parents permission to call them this week should he get particularly good news before leaving Phoenix.
So when Liddi called San Remo, Italy, at 3 a.m. local time, the Liddi family was delighted to answer – they had a pretty good idea who it was.
“I told them I’d made the team,” said Liddi, who made the Seattle Mariners’ reopening day 25-man roster. “We were pretty happy. It was a good way to end spring training.”
Early in camp, manager Eric Wedge asked Liddi to give up time at third base to play first base, and Liddi was happy to do so.
“At first base, it was another chance to be in the lineup,” he said Thursday while the team prepared for a game tonight (7:05, Root) against the Oakland A’s.
And once in the lineup, Liddi produced, batting .370 with seven doubles, a home run and 11 RBI.
“I think I was more consistent at the plate, I had better at-bats, showed them I was a more complete hitter,” Liddi said.
“I’ve never come off the bench,” he said. “I see my job as being ready all the time. I’ll keep working every day so that, when they call, I’ll be ready.”
RAMIREZ ALSO STICKS
Like teammate Liddi, Erasmo Ramirez telephoned home to Nicaragua once he learned he had made a big-league team for the first time – and was met with amazement.
“My mom said, ‘Really?’ ” Ramirez said, grinning. “Then she said ‘Don’t lose your mind,’ and I said, ‘I won’t.’ ”
A 21-year-old rookie with only seven Triple-A games, Ramirez had a solid spring from start to finish, and stuck while veterans fell all around him. At 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds, he had surprise on his side, at first.
“I think teams always look at me and think ‘Look, there’s a small guy on the mound, let’s beat him,’ ” Ramirez said. “By the end of the game, I want them thinking ‘Be careful of that guy!’ ”
Wedge said Ramirez will be used in middle and late-inning relief, although Ramirez has been a starting pitcher most of his career.
“I remember when I was sent to lower Class A; I got there and went to the bullpen and threw and the manager watched me,” Ramirez said. “The first night he called the bullpen and said ‘Get that right-hander warmed up – the short one.’ ”
Wedge said Mike Carp tracked pitches on Thursday in Arizona, and will take his first real swings today since spraining his right shoulder in Japan.
“He’s coming along faster than we expected,” Wedge said.
Franklin Gutierrez, meanwhile, is throwing again, although not all out, easing back from a partially torn pectoral muscle. Gutierrez is further behind because he missed most of spring training, while Carp did not.
No. 5 starter Kevin Millwood remained in Peoria, Ariz., for a few days, pitching a simulated game on Thursday, and will join the team before it travels to Texas after Saturday’s game. Catcher/designated hitter Jesus Montero took batting practice after sitting out the past few days following his beaning Monday. “It’s a precaution, but he was hit in the head,” Wedge said. Wedge continued to promise a “much improved offense” in 2012 but acknowledged it will take time to become a consistent attack because of age and inexperience. Catcher Adam Moore began a rehabilitation assignment in Tacoma on Thursday night after breaking a bone in his right wrist on March 24.
Seattle reopens the 2012 season tonight at 7 against the A’s, a game that will be televised by Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Jason Vargas vs. Brandon McCarthy.