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Monday, March 13, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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M's toss old and new at Texas

Seattle Times staff writer

PEORIA, Ariz. — Their careers are at polar-opposite junctures, and their pitching styles couldn't be more disparate.

But the Mariners liked what they saw on Sunday from both Felix Hernandez, the 19-year-old wunderkind with the limitless future, and 38-year-old warhorse Kevin Appier, trying desperately to keep his career alive.

Hernandez, bouncing back nicely from a rocky outing against Milwaukee (two innings, four hits, three runs), blanked Texas for three innings as the Mariners registered their third straight win, 4-2, at the Peoria Sports Complex.

"I felt great," said Hernandez, who credited a strong bullpen session between starts in which he worked on hitting the corners. "I threw more strikes, my pitches were better, my two-seamer was great."

It wasn't all upside for Hernandez, however. He gave up three hits and walked one to go along with three strikeouts, and was bailed out of a jam by one of Jeremy Reed's diving catches in the left-center gap.

"He saved my life," Hernandez said.

Mariners manager Mike Hargrove wasn't enamored of the curveball that Hernandez threw Brad Wilkerson on the Reed catch, or another breaking pitch that resulted in another fine inning-ending catch by Reed.

"He got away with a couple of curveballs," Hargrove said. "He just spun it up there, didn't try to bury them. Hopefully, Felix realizes if he's going to throw that pitch, he has to throw it and not just spin it up there."

Appier, meanwhile, turned in two scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out two, his second straight strong outing after two rocky ones. He has yet to walk a batter this spring as he continues his longshot quest to forge a place on the pitching staff.

"He keeps keeping himself in the mix," Hargrove said. "He certainly hasn't done anything to eliminate himself."

Appier was glad to hear that sentiment.

"I'm not hiding when I come to work," he said with a shrug.

Sexson sits out

Richie Sexson was a late scratch from Sunday's game after coming up with a tight right quadriceps during stretching. Hargrove said he pulled Sexson mainly as a precautionary measure.

"We just weren't going to take a chance in this cold, damp weather," trainer Rick Griffin said.

Starting in his place, Roberto Petagine had two more hits, including a home run, and is hitting .529 (9 for 17) this spring.

"He's certainly not afraid," Hargrove said. "He goes to the plate and swings the bat. You've got to like that. In the role he's looking to make the ballclub in, that's a plus. He hasn't hurt himself."

Raul Ibanez and Reed also homered for the Mariners, the third of the spring for Ibanez, who is hitting .526.

Notes

Willie Bloomquist hopes to be able to take some swings today for the first time since slicing the pinkie finger on his right hand when some weights he was racking fell on him Friday. The injury required three stitches.

"Throwing doesn't feel so great, but I can throw," Bloomquist said. "I haven't swung, because it would probably pull out the stitches.

Bloomquist wants to play in a game on Tuesday or Wednesday, but Hargrove indicated that that opportunity might not happen until Friday. The Mariners are idle on Thursday, their lone scheduled off-day of the spring.

• Second-base candidate Fernando Vina, who suffered a right hip flexor injury early in camp and has yet to play in a game, is now targeted for game action on Friday. He will take batting practice today.

• The Mariners have no timetable for the return of reliever Julio Mateo, who went home to Bani, Dominican Republic, on Saturday after the death of his older brother, Luis Manuel Mateo, in an automobile accident.

"He'll be back when he can," Hargrove said.

• Reliever Eddie Guardado and outfielder Matt Lawton were in Minneapolis on Sunday to attend the memorial service for their former teammate, Kirby Puckett. They are expected to return to Arizona today.

Kenji Johjima finally had a breakout game offensively on Saturday in Tucson, a 3-for-5 effort against Arizona that included a double and his first home run. Johjima came into the game hitting .143 (2 for 14) with no extra-base hits.

"I don't necessarily go up to the batter's box thinking I want to hit a home run," Johjima said. "I've been seeing the ball really well, but I didn't want to make any excuses. So when the results are good, it's satisfying."

Johjima was not slated to play on Sunday, but he stayed in the dugout for the entire game to study the Texas hitters and pitchers.

Matt Tuiasosopo made his second appearance of the spring at third base on Sunday, but don't read anything into that.

"He does a real good job over there, but there's no thoughts at this time to have a position change," Hargrove said. "He is a shortstop."

• The Mariners had to make some pitching adjustments because of Saturday's rainout of their night game against Kansas City in Peoria. It was Seattle's first spring rainout since March 13, 2001, against Arizona in Tucson, and their first home rainout since March 6, 2000.

"We'll just prioritize guys," Hargrove said. "Maybe some of our kids that might have gotten innings won't get as many as they thought. That's the way it goes."

Gil Meche, who had been scheduled to pitch today against Texas in a 'B' game in Surprise, instead will start the 'A' game in Peoria against the Angels. It will be his first game appearance since straining his left oblique. Jamie Moyer will start the 'B' game and is slated to work four innings.

Sunday's box score

Texas Seattle
AB R H BI AB R H BI
Wilkerson cf 2 1 0 0 Reed cf 2 1 1 1
Mahar rf 1 0 0 0 Jones pr-cf 1 0 0 0
Mench rf 3 1 2 0 Betancourt ss 3 0 0 0
Tingler cf 1 0 0 0 Cabrera ss 1 0 0 0
Blalock 3b 3 0 1 0 Ibanez lf 3 2 3 1
Olson 3b 1 0 1 0 Balentien lf 1 0 1 0
Nevin 1b 2 0 1 2 Petagine 1b 4 1 2 1
Trzesniak c 1 0 0 0 Everett dh 3 0 1 1
Dellucci lf 3 0 0 0 Clement pr-dh 0 0 0 0
Eldridge lf 1 0 1 0 Morse rf 3 0 0 0
DeRosa 2b 3 0 1 0 Tuiasosopo 3b 3 0 0 0
Meyer pr-ss 1 0 0 0 Ransom 3b 1 0 0 0
Nix dh 4 0 1 0 Miller c 3 0 0 0
Barajas c 3 0 0 0 Rivera c 0 0 0 0
Gold 1b 1 0 0 0 Lopez 2b 3 0 1 0
Jimenez ss 3 0 1 0 Navarro 2b 0 0 0 0
Brewer 2b 1 0 0 0
Totals 34 2 9 2 Totals 31 4 9 4
Texas 000 020 000 2
Seattle 200 002 00x 4
DP — Texas 1. LOB — Texas 7, Seattle 6. 2B — Mench, Nevin, DeRosa, Ibanez, Lopez, Everett. HR — Reed, Ibanez. CS — Olson.
Rangers IP H R ER BB SO
Rupe 3 1/3 4 2 2 0 3
Dominguez, L 2 2/3 4 2 2 2 0
Feldman 1 1 0 0 0 0
Walker 1 0 0 0 1 1
Mariners IP H R ER BB SO
Hernandez 3 3 0 0 1 3
Green 2 3 2 2 1 1
Appier, W 2 2 0 0 0 2
Putz 1 1 0 0 0 1
Soriano, S 1 0 0 0 0 1
WP — Rupe, Dominguez. T — 2:32. A.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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