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Monday, February 27, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Mariners Notes: Pineiro excited after 1st simulated game

The Associated Press

PEORIA, Ariz. — In the first simulated game of spring training by a Seattle pitcher, right-hander Joel Pineiro made 35 pitches Sunday.

Pineiro, a 16-game winner for the Mariners in 2003 who won seven games last season, will pitch for Puerto Rico in the inaugural World Baseball Classic. His first start is scheduled March 8 against the Netherlands in San Juan.

"Today, he pitched some nice breaking balls," manager Mike Hargrove said. "He pitched some decent sinkers that could be better. But that was his first outing."

Pineiro, 27, made 30 starts and pitched 189 innings for Seattle last season, going 7-11 with a career-high 5.62 earned-run average.

He is scheduled to pitch in a B game here Friday before getting on a plane on Saturday to go to San Juan.

"I feel like I'm ready," Pineiro said. "My arm feels good and I'm excited. So it's going to be a lot of fun, not just for me. But I think for all of baseball."

Pineiro said he feels much better at the start of spring training this year compared with last year.

"It's a complete turnaround, a 360," he said. "But when I pitch in a game next Friday, it's kind of going to be more realistic."

In six seasons in Seattle, Pineiro has compiled a 50-42 record with a 4.11 ERA in 145 games, including 123 starts.

Foppert ready to go

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From the beginning of his professional career, Jesse Foppert was on the fast track to major league fame and fortune. Or so he thought.

"It was a pretty easy road to the big leagues for me," said the 25-year-old Mariners right-hander who was picked in the second round of the 2001 draft. "I only spent a year in the minor leagues."

Since leaving a start for the San Francisco Giants against Atlanta on Aug. 20, 2003, in the fourth inning because of numbness in his right hand, his career has slowed.

Since then, Foppert underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow Sept. 16, 2003, and has pitched in four major league games, for the Giants. The operation required 11 months of rehabilitation.

Acquired by the Mariners last July in a trade that sent outfielder Randy Winn to the Giants, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Foppert is at the Mariners' spring training camp looking for a job in the rotation.

The Mariners and Foppert say he's healthy now. Before his elbow ligament replacement surgery, Foppert had an 8-9 record with a 5.03 ERA in 21 starts and 111 innings for the Giants in 2003.

But it won't be easy for Foppert to make the Mariners' roster. Most of their rotation is returning.

Bavasi said the Mariners would prefer to keep Foppert as a starter. So he might be headed back to Tacoma to at least start the season.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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