Lefty Ariel Miranda didn’t wait for the translation Saturday afternoon when asked whether he preferred to be a starter or a reliever after working two scoreless innings in the Mariners’ spring opener.
"A starter," he said in English before switching to Spanish. "I’ve always liked starting. When you’re a starting pitcher, you’re controlling 70 percent of the game.
"Obviously, my preference is to start, but I’ll do whatever the want me to do."
The Mariners opened their 36-game Cactus League schedule with a 13-3 romp over campus co-tenant San Diego in front of 6,370 at Peoria Stadium.
Nelson Cruz got the Mariners started with a three-run homer in the first inning against Padres starter Paul Clemens.
"We’re used to that," said Robinson Cano, who drew a four-pitch walk prior to Cruz’s homer. "That’s all he does."
After San Diego answered with three runs in the fourth inning against Ryan Weber, the Mariners regained control by scoring once in the fifth and four times in the sixth before turning the game into a rout.
While Miranda closed last season in the rotation, he appears squeezed out of a spot after the Mariners acquired veterans Drew Smyly and Yovani Gallardo in offseason deals.
A shift to the bullpen seems likely, but Miranda is working as a starter early in camp as a hedge against a possible injury to someone in the projected rotation.
Barring such an injury, if Miranda opens the season as a starter, it figures to be at Triple-A Tacoma.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Jarrod Dyson offered a glimpse of what he brings this season to the Mariners in the fifth inning after San Diego pulled even with a three-run fourth. Dyson led off with a walk, stole second and scored the go-ahead run on Shawn O’Malley’s ground-ball single to right.
PLUS: Cruz’s homer was a bomb. Nice way to start the spring…outfielder Guillermo Heredia started his roster bid by going 3-for-3 with two doubles…right-hander Cody Martin retired six straight batters in the seventh and eighth innings…reliever Casey Fien pitched around a leadoff single in a scoreless third inning by getting two strikeouts…lefty reliever James Pazos opened his spring with a one-two-three sixth inning…hard-throwing Shae Simmons closed out the victory with a one-two-three ninth.
MINUS: Weber’s long-shot roster bid got a lot longer when he gave three runs in the fourth inning. He did rebound with a scoreless fifth…Miranda retired the first five hitters before yielding a single to Corey Spangenberg — and then forgot about Spangenberg, who got an enormous jump for a stolen base…O’Malley had an error when he missed a catch and was thrown out on an attempted steal after replacing Jean Segura at shortstop…Tyler O’Neill struck out in his two at-bats after replacing Dyson as the left fielder.
STAT PACK: It was 61 degrees at first pitch…the Mariners finished with 17 hits and were 9-for-19 with runners in scoring position…infielder Tyler Smith, the oft-overlooked utility candidate, went 2-for-3 after replacing third baseman Kyle Seager…first baseman D.J. Peterson, who appears likely to open the season at Tacoma, was had singles in both of his at-bats.
QUOTABLE: Cruz admits he feels a need to accelerate his spring preparation because of plans to depart early next month to join the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
"I know I have to get ready soon," he said. "Sooner than in years past. The mentality changes. It’s like it’s late in spring training. You have to get ready."
SHORT HOPS: Utilityman Taylor Motter remains slowed by a sore back but is expected to make his spring debut within a few days…Cano and Cruz will likely start again Sunday as they gear up for the World Baseball Classic. The other starters are expected to go on the usual every-other-day schedule until later in camp.
UP NEXT: The Mariners and Padres continue their campus series at 12:10 p.m. Pacific time Sunday at Peoria Stadium. Right-hander Chris Heston is scheduled to start for the Mariners. Dillon Overton, Christian Bergman, Dean Kiekhefer, Nick Hagadone and Pat Venditte are also expected to pitch. San Diego lists right-hander Zach Lee as its starter. Lee was 0-9 with a 7.39 ERA last season in 14 starts for Triple-A Tacoma.
DAYS LEFT UNTIL OPENING DAY: 36.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners