Ex-teammate Marzano's death rocks clubhouse
A stunned Raul Ibanez could not believe the news Saturday as he entered the visiting clubhouse. His former teammate, John Marzano, a popular...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Today | @ L.A. Angels, 12:35 p.m., FSN | M's RH Miguel Batista (1-2, 6.35) vs. RH Dustin Moseley (1-1, 7.80).
Tuesday | Baltimore, 7:10 p.m., FSN | M's RH Felix Hernandez (2-0, 1.47) vs. LH Adam Loewen (0-1, 6.32).
Wednesday | Baltimore, 7:10 p.m., FSN | M's RH Carlos Silva (3-0, 2.79) vs. RH Jeremy Guthrie (0-1, 4.38).
Thursday | Baltimore, 7:10 p.m., FSN | M's LH Jarrod Washburn (1-3, 4.13) vs. LH Brian Burres (2-1, 3.63).
Friday | Oakland, 7:10 p.m., FSN | M's RH Miguel Batista (1-2, 6.35) vs. LH Greg Smith (1-0, 3.00).
ANAHEIM, Calif. — A stunned Raul Ibanez could not believe the news Saturday as he entered the visiting clubhouse.
His former teammate, John Marzano, a popular Mariners backup catcher from 1996 to 1998 who delighted fans and teammates alike with his outgoing nature, was dead at age 45. Police say Marzano fell down a flight of stairs at his Philadelphia home after suffering what some say might have been a heart attack.
Ibanez had just answered a text message from Marzano a couple of days earlier.
"He was congratulating me on a good start and wanted to see if I could come on his show again," said Ibanez, visibly shaken by the news.
Marzano had been working for Major League Baseball's Web site where he co-hosted a radio show on weekday mornings. But Ibanez remembered him as a caring teammate who took a young outfielder under his wing when he was just breaking into the majors.
"He treated me great in spring training and even during the season on the road," Ibanez said. "We'd go to breakfast together sometimes. On the road, I played video games with him. I just can't believe it. This is terrible."
Onetime Mariners reservist Rich Amaral, here this weekend doing consulting work with the team's base runners, remembered Marzano as "a great teammate" and friend. The lifetime .241 hitter, who hit just 11 home runs in 10 major-league seasons, used to draw laughs in Seattle by sitting next to teammates on the bench any time they'd just gone deep.
He knew the cameras would be rolling and told people it was the only way he got any television time.
"He had a personality that brought teams together," Amaral said. "He was obviously a key to getting us closer together as a team during those years."
Marzano played 130 games with Seattle over what became the final three seasons of his career and was as popular with the fans as he was teammates.
He became a cult hero of sorts after getting New York Yankees slugger Paul O'Neill in a headlock and landing a haymaker on him during a 1996 fight. O'Neill had complained to the umpire about a pitch that was high and in.
"He used to go out to the bullpen and walk on out and the whole side of the stadium would cheer for him," Amaral said. "He was well-liked by everyone."
Mariners manager John McLaren first got to know Marzano as a coach with the Boston Red Sox in 1991 when the catcher played for that team. They hooked again up when McLaren was a bench coach with the Mariners in the 1990s.
Their families were close. McLaren said he last saw Marzano at the baseball winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn., last December and that he looked great.
"I told him once: 'You'd have a tough time if Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr. were all in town at the same time and wanted to have dinner with you,' " McLaren said. "Because he was good friends with all three of those guys. That's just the way he was. You couldn't help but like him."
Putz pitches well
in simulated game
Mariners closer J.J. Putz could barely speak Saturday, but let his arm do the talking instead during a 41-pitch simulated game. Putz has lost a good deal of his voice, having caught some of the head cold and flu that's been going around the clubhouse of late.
But he felt good on the mound, facing hitters Willie Bloomquist, Greg Norton and Miguel Cairo.
All three took swings off Putz and Bloomquist even scorched one of his sliders for a line drive. Afterward, Putz said his arm was ready to handle whatever the team decides to do.
"The fact that they're swinging makes a big difference," Putz said. "Your intensity level goes up."
There was only one major thing Putz was looking for.
"Command," he said. "When you're pitching at that high level of intensity, there's a fine line between throwing and pitching."
Mariners manager McLaren seemed satisfied that Putz was on the right side of that line. McLaren has yet to rule out a minor-league rehabilitation assignment for Putz, but seemed to be leaning against it after the simulated game.
If all goes well, Putz could come off the disabled list Tuesday.
Injured starter Erik Bedard threw a 10-minute bullpen session Saturday afternoon and will likely throw another one Tuesday if his hip feels OK. The Mariners have said an MRI last week found inflammation in the hip but are not revealing the cause.
Bedard has already been pushed back in one start and missed another one entirely before going on the disabled list. He is eligible to come off the DL Thursday and could be slotted in for a start at that point if his recovery keeps progressing as the team says it has.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or email@example.com.
For the record
vs. AL West: 6-4
vs. L.A.: 2-3
vs. Oakland: 2-0
vs. Texas: 2-1
vs. AL East: 2-5
vs. AL Central: 1-1
vs. NL: 0-0
vs. LHP: 2-3
vs. RHP: 7-7
Extra innings: 0-0
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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