Miguel Batista making bid to be Mariners closer
In several of his previous major-league springs, Miguel Batista has wondered whether he would break camp with a ballclub. But the 38-year-old pitcher...
Seattle Times staff reporter
PEORIA, Ariz. — In several of his previous major-league springs, Miguel Batista has wondered whether he would break camp with a ballclub.
But the 38-year-old pitcher, vying to become the Mariners closer, insists he'll be back for spring camp No. 19 next year — even if he isn't part of this team's 2009 plans. Much is still up in the air for Batista, owed $9 million this season and whose underwhelming spring statistics have left the coaching staff wondering just who will finish off games for Seattle.
The thing is, none of the serious candidates vying for the closer's role has blown anyone away. And in Batista, there's the temptation of going with a veteran who says his main concern this spring has been getting healthy and preparing his body to pitch multiple days in a row.
"Just sit down and watch," he said. "The show is about to start."
Two years ago, Batista had a terrible spring, then led the Mariners with 16 victories as a starter. But that was before nagging back pain, which Batista says was caused by two fractured bones, led to one of his more ruinous campaigns last season.
Now, he says he's pain free, and he wants the Mariners to trust him. He admits some days he has had better stuff than others, but thinks he's earned the benefit of the doubt that he can pull it all together when the games count.
"We have a week left," he said. "A lot of things are going to happen between now and then. There are a lot of decisions that are going to be made."
The Mariners, who lost 8-3 to the Colorado Rockies on Friday, still have doubts about just who their closer will be. Batista has disappointed with his results and stuff at times; Mark Lowe has battled control issues; Tyler Walker and Roy Corcoran have been slowed by injury; and Randy Messenger has been hit hard of late. Two of the brightest lights, David Aardsma and Shawn Kelley, were longshots when camp opened.
Kelley tossed his fifth scoreless outing in a row Friday, shutting out the Rockies on two hits over two innings. Aardsma has been scored on just twice in 11 outings.
This could come down to whether the Mariners are willing to thrust relatively untested youngsters into the pressure-packed role. Or whether they give Batista one more shot by sending him out there to sink or swim in April before deciding what to do with his contract.
Of all the candidates, Batista has had the most multiple-inning outings. He thinks the fact he's proven his stamina level as a closer in the past should instill confidence he can get the job done.
The thing is, it's 2009 and not 2005, when he last handled the job full-time.
His charity work now fills up much of his free time and would seem to lend itself to a post-baseball career. But he says he isn't ready to do that yet. He insists he never would have shown up to camp if he had no bullets left in his arm — and that he plans to keep on pitching after this year.
"If I don't fit in one place, I'll go somewhere else," he said. "I'm going to play until I know I can't help a team win."
• LHP Tyler Johnson said Friday that he won't be breaking camp with the Mariners as their situational lefty in the bullpen. "Realistically, I could," he said. "Are they going to let me? No. It's just not smart." Johnson was supposed to throw a simulated game on Friday, but it was pushed back to give his surgically repaired shoulder a rest.
• LHP Erik Bedard gave up a grand slam and six runs total in three innings against the Rockies. Bedard was on a 65-pitch limit and threw 64 before he was pulled. Despite the poor results, Bedard said he felt better than he had all spring.
• After throwing a scoreless inning, RHP Brandon Morrow faced just two batters in his second frame and yielded a two-run homer. Manager Don Wakamatsu said Morrow looked stronger than his last time out as he continues to try to build arm strength.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners
Friday's box score
|Podsednik cf||4||0||0||0||Suzuki rf||3||1||1||0|
|Tulowitzki ss||2||1||1||0||Balentien rf||1||0||0||0|
|Quintnilla ss||1||0||0||0||Cedeno 2b||5||0||2||0|
|Murton rf||2||2||1||0||Griffey Jr. dh||4||0||1||2|
|Smith lf||2||0||0||0||Clement dh||1||0||1||0|
|Iannetta dh||2||3||1||0||Beltre 3b||3||0||0||0|
|Stewart lf||3||1||1||2||Morse 3b||2||0||0||0|
|Perez 3b||0||0||0||0||Shelton 1b||3||0||1||0|
|C.Colonel 3b||2||1||1||5||Johjima c||2||0||2||0|
|Fowler cf||1||0||0||0||Burke c||2||1||1||0|
|Fasano c||3||0||1||1||Gutierrez cf||2||0||0||0|
|Phillips c||1||0||1||0||Wilson lf||2||0||1||0|
|Bellorin 1b||3||0||0||0||Betncourt ss||3||0||1||1|
|Herrera 2b||3||0||0||0||R.Corona ss||1||0||0||0|
|Colorado||402 020 000||—||8|
|Seattle||001 011 000||—||3|
|Cook W, 2-1||5 2/3||10||3||3||1||2|
|Bedard L, 1-1||3||4||6||6||4||2|
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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