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Thursday, March 30, 2006 - Page updated at 10:19 AM

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Petagine's hot bat lands him a roster spot

Seattle Times staff reporter

PEORIA, Ariz. — The most surprising survivor from the latest Mariners spring (roster) cleaning stared back with a blank face.

"Surprised?" Roberto Petagine asked. "For what?"

Surprised, um, maybe, that you're on the opening-day roster?

"I am?"

No news was good news at the Mariners' complex Wednesday morning. Eleven players filtered one at a time into the manager's office, leaving with heads down, eyes moist, dreams dashed temporarily.

Manager Mike Hargrove last week wondered if he could find a roster spot for Petagine, who will be used almost exclusively as a pinch-hitter. That he did speaks directly to the prowess of Petagine's bat.

"I had to do good every day, every opportunity I had, to show that I could be a bench player," Petagine said after being informed that he made the roster. "I could not make mistakes."

He didn't, at least not with his bat, hitting .429 (18 of 42) this spring. That, combined with the news that Jeremy Reed's wrist isn't broken after all, made for a near finalization of the roster Wednesday.

Wednesday, Petagine hit a two-run home run in the ninth inning as the Mariners and Kansas City Royals tied 10-10.

Chris Snelling was placed on the 60-day disabled list. Recently acquired outfielder Joe Borchard made the team, at least until Matt Lawton serves his 10-day suspension, and likely not much longer.

That leaves infielders Greg Dobbs, Jose Morban and Cody Ransom and outfielder Adam Jones with assignments to Class AAA Tacoma. The Mariners also optioned utility player Mike Morse there in order to give him more playing time.

"I've been through a lot worse," Morse said. "I need to get at-bats, play every day, instead of being up there just sitting around. I look at it in a positive way. I need to show them I belong."

With position players pretty much set for opening day, the only remaining competition is in the bullpen. Left-hander George Sherrill makes the team — the Mariners optioned right-handed reliever Clint Nageotte to Tacoma — and four others are competing for the two remaining bullpen spots.

Each has positives and negatives. Left-hander Jake Woods has been impressive lately, but he isn't a Rule 5 player like fellow lefty Luis Gonzalez. Should the Mariners take Woods and not Gonzalez, they have to offer Gonzalez back to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Right-hander Emiliano Fruto might have the most long-term potential of the candidates, but the Mariners already have Rafael Soriano and J.J. Putz serving the same role Fruto would in the bullpen. Fellow right-hander Jeff Harris is not on the 40-man roster, but he started eight games for the Mariners last season and could serve as an emergency starter.

The Mariners also decided to keep 22-year-old Rene Rivera as their backup catcher, reassigning catcher Corky Miller to Tacoma, along with pitchers Kevin Appier, Scott Atchison, Francisco Cruceta and Sean Green.

Rough day for Moyer

Jamie Moyer can only hope that his first regular-season start goes better than his final spring-training start went Wednesday. Moyer pitched five innings in his final tuneup before facing Bartolo Colon and the Los Angeles Angels opening day on Monday, and the Kansas City Royals roughed him up for eight hits and eight runs.

Moyer allowed two home runs, including a grand slam. Moyer also hit two batters (in a row), walked one and struck out four.

The outing wasn't ideal, but it wasn't too much of a concern.

Moyer said he's ready for opening day, but will need some time to reach his peak. Maybe by late April.

"I didn't locate well," he said of his last spring-training tuneup. "That usually causes problems, for me especially."

Betancourt's bat

Shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt spent the offseason learning to hit to the opposite field. The Mariners are so pleased that should Reed start the season on the disabled list — an extremely unlikely possibility — Betancourt could hit second in the lineup.

"I wasn't able to hit to the opposite field last year," Betancourt said through interpreter Gillian Hagamen. "I've gotten a lot better since last year. [Hitting coach Jeff Pentland] helped me out a lot."

Notes

• Hargrove said he is not concerned about RHP Felix Hernandez resting until his first scheduled start on April 7 at Safeco Field. Hernandez is suffering from shin splints in his right leg, and Hargrove said the health report he got on Wednesday was "real good."

• The other pitching matchups for the opening series against the Angels: Tueday, Mariners' Joel Pineiro vs. John Lackey; Wednesday, Mariners' Jarrod Washburn vs. Jeff Weaver.

• Appier has a 2.84 earned-run average this spring, but has been slowed by a strained calf. Hargrove said Appier is going to stay in Arizona, get healthy, then pitch in Tacoma. Appier is another emergency-starter candidate.

• The M's play two games today — in the afternoon here and a night game in Las Vegas. They finish the exhibition season in Portland on Friday and Tacoma on Saturday.

Wednesday's box score

Kansas City Seattle
AB R H BI AB R H BI
DeJesus cf 3 2 2 0 Ichiro rf 5 1 3 1
Butler lf 1 0 0 0 Betancourt ss 3 0 0 0
Graffanino 1b 4 2 2 5 Bloomquist ss 2 1 1 1
Lubanski cf 1 0 0 0 Ibanez lf 4 2 3 1
Sweeney dh 5 0 1 0 Morban lf 1 0 0 0
Brown lf 3 0 0 0 Sexson 1b 3 1 1 2
Gil 1b 1 0 0 0 Petagine 1b 2 1 1 2
Teahen 3b 3 1 0 0 Beltre 3b 5 1 1 0
Gotay 2b 1 0 0 0 Everett dh 5 1 3 1
Berroa ss 4 2 3 3 Johjima c 4 0 1 0
Buck c 1 0 0 0 Lopez 2b 4 1 2 0
Costa rf 4 0 1 0 Borchard cf 4 1 2 2
Maier rf 1 0 1 0
German 2b-3b 5 2 3 0
Bako c 3 1 1 2
Blanco ss 1 0 0 0
Totals 41 10 14 10 Totals 42 10 18 10
Kansas City 440 000 200 10
Seattle 001 132 003 10
E — Borchard, Sexson, Suzuki. DP — Kansas City 1. LOB — Kansas City 8, Seattle 5. 2B — DeJesus, Graffanino, Everett, Suzuki. 3B — Bako, Maier. HR — Berroa, Graffanino, Ibanez, Borchard, Sexson, Petagine. SB — German. CS — DeJesus, Borchard.
Royals IP H R ER BB SO
Elarton 5 11 7 7 0 2
Sisco 1 2 0 0 0 1
Hudson 1 1 0 0 0 0
Burgos 1 1 0 0 0 1
Gobble 1 3 3 3 0 1
Mariners IP H R ER BB SO
Moyer 5 8 8 8 1 4
Mackintosh 2 5 2 2 1 1
Mateo 1 0 0 0 0 0
Putz 1 1 0 0 0 0
HBP — by Moyer (Bako, DeJesus). WP — Burgos. T — 2:49.

Greg Bishop: 206-464-3191 or gbishop@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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