Mariners battered 9-3 by Padres in Cactus league opener
Mariners fans optimistic despite defeat in Cactus League opener.
Seattle Times staff reporter
PEORIA, Ariz. — Taking in the sun on a grass berm, Kevin Ediger wasn't going to let a rough spring mound start by the Mariners foil his hopes for the coming season.
Ediger and his wife, two sons and a daughter, had come here from Black Diamond to take in the team's Cactus League opener Friday against the San Diego Padres at Peoria Stadium. Most of the day's suspense ended quickly as Mariners starter Hector Noesi yielded a grand-slam and six first-inning runs en route to a 9-3 defeat in front of 5,495 fans.
But Ediger, whose son, Travis, 11, proudly held up a Felix Hernandez game jersey autographed earlier in the day, believes the offensive improvements by the Mariners should overcome mound issues once the real games begin.
"They added a couple of bats here and there and the guys who've been with the program a while should be progressing," Ediger said. "The offense has really been lacking. But adding a couple of big bats, that should really help the team."
One of those big bats, Michael Morse, started the day in right field and had at-bats — one more than he'd been scheduled for — and finished 1 for 3 with a single. Casper Wells, in a fight for the final outfield spot, connected for a two-run homer with two out in the ninth.
But it wasn't enough to overcome the 42-pitch outing by Noesi, who notched only two outs. Noesi faced 11 batters, walked four and wasn't helped by Raul Ibanez dropping a Will Venable fly ball to left field for an error that put two on with none out to start the contest.
"First time out, the ball was coming out of his hand good," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of Noesi. "He just cut it off a bit as the inning wore on. When he does that, he just doesn't have the same life. He was just a little bit off, but he said he felt good, so hopefully he can just work off of that and come back strong the next time."
The next seven Seattle's scheduled pitchers held the Padres off the scoreboard until the ninth, when San Diego added three runs off minor-leaguer Danny Farquhar. Noesi is fighting for a final rotation spot but seemed up against things even before Friday, with Blake Beavan, Erasmo Ramirez, non-roster invites Jon Garland and Jeremy Bonderman and a host of minor leaguers also trying to stick.
Seattle was held to five hits, with Jesus Montero the only other major-leaguer to get one. But many of the fans felt an improved offense should be a difference-maker once the regular season begins.
"I'm excited about this year," said James Burk, 25, visiting from Bremerton. "I think this year is going to be a big year for the Mariners. They're doing a lot of good work. They've brought in some pretty decent names, so hopefully these young guys can start getting it together. But I think it's going to be a big year."
• Wedge said he's been impressed by what he's seen from Wells' bat . "He really hit that ball," Wedge said of Friday's home run off minor-leaguer Brandon Kloess. "He has a lot of raw power. When he hits the ball, he hits it. His swing looks a little bit shorter. I thought he made some adjustments at the end of last year, and early on, he's definitely brought that into the spring."
• Mariners outfield hopeful Carlos Peguero didn't have any hits, but had a pair of walks in his plate appearances. Peguero drew only one walk in 57 plate appearances for the Mariners last season.
• Catching prospect Mike Zunino made his Cactus League debut, coming in to catch in the sixth inning. He finished 0 for 1 at the plate.
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