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Wednesday, April 4, 2007 - Page updated at 09:07 PM

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M's Notebook | Weaving in a changeup

Seattle Times staff reporter

PEORIA, Ariz. — The most expensive fifth starter in baseball didn't spend Sunday lamenting his new fate.

Mariners pitcher Jeff Weaver instead pitched six innings of a Class A game, attempting to improve the changeup he'd like to use more against left-handers this season. Weaver, on a one-year, $8.3-million contract with Seattle, had been 0-2 with an 8.31 earned-run average and four home runs allowed in four outings this spring.

The team named him its No. 5 starter Saturday, a move that enables them to split up right-handers in the rotation by placing lefty Horacio Ramirez in the fourth spot. But Weaver's placing was also partly based on his poor spring results and inability to throw first-pitch strikes consistently.

"It doesn't matter to me, not at all," last year's World Series star with the St. Louis Cardinals said of being the fifth starter.

The Mariners don't plan on skipping any pitchers' starts because of early-season off days. That means Weaver likely won't get fewer opportunities than the other four starters.

Weaver had mixed results Sunday, going the six innings and allowing four runs — three earned — on seven hits. He struck out three and didn't walk anyone, but he wasn't exactly facing major-leaguers.

Throwing the changeup to left-handers could help Weaver get some of his bloated numbers down. Left-handers hit .340 with a .609 slugging percentage off him last season compared to .267 with a .438 slugging percentage by right-handers.

"I really would like to incorporate it into my pitching style," Weaver said. "I never really did incorporate it into my style until the end of last season. I'm really looking forward to seeing how it's going to be against left-handers this season. "

Unhappy Hargrove

The Mariners won their fifth straight Sunday, 10-6 over the Oakland Athletics in 10 innings in Phoenix, but Seattle manager Mike Hargrove was livid. Hargrove watched his team make three errors, two in the fourth inning as the A's scored three unearned runs off Seattle-area product Sean White. Hargrove also saw pitcher Sean Green fail to cover first base in the 10th as the A's loaded the bases with two out.

"Mentally today, we were absolutely not here, and that's unacceptable," said Hargrove, whose squad took a 6-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth, lost it, then scored four in the 10th. "That doesn't cut it, plain and simple. We'll talk about that a little more in-depth."

Positive for Putz

Closer J.J. Putz threw a 31-pitch bullpen session Sunday morning and emerged unscathed. Putz threw the first six pitches with the catcher standing close by, then unleashed 25 fastballs at regular distance.

"It felt great," Putz said. "That was probably all I've got right there."

Unlike 10 days ago, Putz felt no stiffness in his elbow from a strained flexor pronator muscle. He flexed his arm and let out a smile.

"It's a big relief," he said.

Putz plans to long-toss today, then pitch one inning in a minor-league game tomorrow. After that, he'll throw another inning in an exhibition game in Las Vegas.

Notes

• Left-hander Arthur Rhodes pitched a scoreless seventh against the Sunday, allowing an infield single in his first game action since March 16. Rhodes had been out with a slight elbow strain. But he has allowed just two hits over six scoreless innings this spring and declared himself ready to start the season.

"I've been around long enough," the 37-year-old Rhodes said. "I know how I feel, what I need to do to get prepared for the season."

Jake Woods got the surprise start against Oakland for Weaver. The Mariners don't like to use their regular starters against division foes in the late stages of spring training, so Woods got the call and tossed three scoreless innings of one-hit ball.

Woods still doesn't know whether he has made the team, though the Mariners will likely keep him in a long relief role.

"That's kind of the joke around here with the guys," Woods said. "It's kind of all a secret."

Jose Vidro continued his red-hot spring by driving in two runs with a double in the ninth. Vidro is now hitting .353 with 12 runs batted in.

Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or gbaker@seattletimes.com.

Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners

Sunday's box score

Seattle Oakland
AB R H BI AB R H BI
AJones cf 4 2 2 1 Kendall c 3 0 1 0
Beltre 3b 2 0 1 0 KIchiro c 1 0 0 1
Dawkins 3b 2 0 0 0 SStewart lf 2 1 1 0
Vidro dh 5 1 1 2 APerez lf-cf 2 0 1 2
BJohnsn pr-dh 1 0 1 1 Piazza dh 3 0 0 0
Ibanez lf 3 1 2 3 Goleski ph-dh 2 0 0 0
Nelson lf 3 0 0 0 Chavez 3b 2 1 0 0
Broussard 1b 5 0 0 0 Melhuse 3b 2 0 0 0
JLopez 2b 3 1 1 0 Swisher cf 3 1 0 0
Chen 2b 2 1 2 0 Ledee lf 2 0 1 0
Morse rf 4 1 2 2 DJohnson 1b 3 0 0 1
Burke c 3 0 1 0 Durazo 1b 1 1 0 0
RJohnson c 2 2 2 1 Ellis 2b 3 0 0 0
Ordonez ss 5 1 1 0 Murphy 2b 1 1 1 0
Buck rf 5 1 3 1
Scutaro ss 5 0 1 0
Totals 44 10 16 10 Totals 40 6 9 5
Seattle 100 120 002 4 10
Oakland 000 300 003 0 6
E — JLopez, Beltre, Dawkins. LOB — Seattle 9, Oakland 9. 2B — Ibanez, Morse 2, JLopez, Vidro, Chen, RJohnson, SStewart, APerez. HR — Ibanez. SB — AJones. CS — Kendall. S — AJones. SF — Morse, Suzuki.
Mariners IP H R ER BB SO
Woods 3 1 0 0 1 1
White 3 2 3 0 1 2
Rhodes 1 0 0 0 0 1
Huber, W 2 3 3 3 1 1
Green 1 2 0 0 0 1
Athletics IP H R ER BB SO
Windsor 5 6 4 4 0 0
Halsey, L 4 1/3 8 5 5 0 1
Robertson 2/3 2 1 1 1 1
HBP — by Green (Murphy), by Windsor (AJones, Beltre). WP — Huber. PB — Kendall. T — 3:01.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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