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Originally published Sunday, March 3, 2013 at 8:14 PM

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Mariners continue bashing homers, winning games

Kendrys Morales and Jesus Montero, both expected to be main power producers for the Mariners, each ripped their first homers of the spring as the Mariners held off Texas, 7-6, for their ninth straight win.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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SURPRISE, Ariz. — The Mariners continued their Cactus League surge Sunday, and they kept on bashing the ball, with two new players adding to their home-run barrage.

Kendrys Morales and Jesus Montero, both expected to be main power producers for the Mariners, each ripped their first homers of the spring as the Mariners held off Texas, 7-6, for their ninth straight win.

Morales had a two-run homer to dead center in the first. Montero added a two-run shot to left center in the third to cap an at-bat that manager Eric Wedge said was the best he has ever seen from Montero. The Mariners have 22 homers, most in the majors, in 10 spring games.

Montero fell behind 0-2, then fouled off three straight pitches. He laid off a high fastball before blasting a rocket over the wall in left-center on a 93-mph fastball from Texas starter Justin Grimm.

Wedge has been very pleased lately with the way Montero has been handling himself both offensively and in embracing the challenges of being the everyday catcher. Montero also doubled in the game and is hitting .500 (7 for 14) this spring.

"I felt like the last couple of games, both offensively and behind the plate catching, were considerably different," Wedge said. "It's been very noticeable to me. That's the way he needs to play. You talk about the position he's playing, the responsibilities and priorities that go along with that, he's right in the middle of understanding that. He's sticking his nose in offensively and battling through ABs."

J. Saunders shines

Seattle starter Joe Saunders was pleased with his scoreless two-inning stint — with the exception of a first-inning walk to Brandon Allen.

"We were working on the slider/cutter combination today," he said. "I threw some good ones. Threw some bad ones, but they were down. That's a positive. The negative for me was the walk. I don't like walking guys, especially left-hand hitters. Other than that, thought I did pretty well. I focused on throwing strikes, working fast."

Wedge liked what he saw from the left-hander.

"That's Joe Saunders," he said. "This guy knows how to pitch, he knows what he wants to do with the baseball. He adds and subtracts and moves the ball around, whether it be left and right, up and down. The name of the game is keeping these guys off-balance and that's what he does."

Saunders said he feels stronger than he has in past springs.

"Every offseason you try to do something different to prepare for the next year. I try to get in earlier, keep working out strong, and do a lot of shoulder programs. I feel really strong, really healthy. I'm pretty pleased where my arm is right now."

The King's ready

Felix Hernandez pronounced himself ready for his first Cactus League start, slated for Thursday, after all went well in a 39-pitch simulated game on Sunday morning.

Facing minor leaguers again in his second live stint, Hernandez threw smoothly, used all his pitches, and said he felt good.

"It was fine," he said. "The changeup was good. The slider was there. I'm happy."

Catcher Kelly Shoppach said of Hernandez's outing: "He looked good, he let a few go. He got out on the mound and felt good; I think that's all anyone cares about, most importantly. It was pretty typical stuff for his first time getting in there in a sort of a live game situation. He's just repeating what he's trying to do. He was a little inconsistent with that. For me, it was a lot of fun. On the other side of it, it's pretty good stuff."

Just ask Joe DeCarlo, the 19-year-old infielder who was one of those brought over from the minor-league camp to face Hernandez. This is the first professional spring training for DeCarlo, drafted in the second round in June out of Garnet Valley High School in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.

"I mean, he's the best," DeCarlo said. "I was kind of in the batter's box, looking for fastballs. He's nasty. I mean, it speaks for itself."

DeCarlo was happy to get the assignment, as daunting as it might have been.

"You don't get to do that very often," he said. "I was excited. I was looking forward to it from the moment I heard I was coming in today. It was fun. I'm going to tell all my buddies back home. My family. I'll remember it probably the rest of my career."

Texas pitcher hurt

Texas suffered a big blow in Sunday's game when a line drive from Seattle's Brad Miller struck pitcher Martin Perez in his left wrist. He left the game immediately, and afterward it was announced he had fractured the ulna bone in his left forearm. Perez, expected to be in the Rangers' rotation, won't resume throwing for approximately a month, the Rangers said.

"It's tough to see," Wedge said. "You never want to see that, and it's always a scary thing."

Note

• Mariners catcher Mike Zunino found out this week he is one of 15 semifinalists for the Sullivan Award, given to the top amateur athlete in the U.S in 2012. Other nominees include basketball star Brittney Griner, swimmer Missy Franklin and gymnast Gabrielle Douglas.

"It's awesome," he said. "It's a great honor and obviously a ton of great athletes on there. Just to be nominated for that has been an extreme honor."

Seattle Texas
AB R H BI AB R H BI
Ackley 2b 2 0 1 0 Berkman dh 2 0 1 1
B.Miller 2b 2 0 1 0 J.Butlr pr-dh 2 0 1 1
Bay lf 2 1 1 0 Kinsler 2b 3 0 0 0
Thames lf 1 0 1 1 Y.Solarte 2b 3 0 0 0
K.Morales 1b 3 1 1 2 Dav.Mrphy lf 2 0 2 0
Jacobs 1b 2 0 1 0 Schmidt c 2 0 0 0
Morse rf 2 0 0 0 B.Allen 1b 2 0 1 0
C.Peguero rf 2 0 0 0 Je.Baker 1b 2 1 0 0
M.Sauders cf 3 1 0 0 Soto c 2 0 0 0
F.Martnez cf 2 0 0 0 Cnighm pr-lf 2 2 2 1
J.Montero c 3 2 2 2 Gentry cf 3 1 1 0
J.Sucre c 1 0 0 0 Borbon cf 2 1 2 1
Liddi 3b 5 0 0 0 E.Beltre rf 3 0 1 1
Zunino dh 3 2 1 1 J.Adduci rf 2 0 0 1
Ryan ss 2 0 1 1 Olt 3b 2 0 0 0
Franklin ss 1 0 0 0 G.Rdriguz 3b 1 0 0 0
B.Snyder ph 0 0 0 0
Profar ss 3 1 1 0
H.Alberto ss 2 0 0 0
Totals 36 7 10 7 Totals 40 6 12 6
Seattle 222 001 000 7
Te — 9as 001 100 202 6
E — Liddi (1), C.Peguero (1), B.Miller 2 (3), Profar (2). DP — Texas 2. LOB — Seattle 9, Texas 14. 2B — J.Montero (3), Zunino (1), Ryan (1), Cunningham (3), Profar (1). 3B — E.Beltre (1). HR — K.Morales (1), J.Montero (1), Cunningham (1). SF — Thames.
Mariners IP H R ER BB SO
J.Saunders W, 1-0 2 1 0 0 1 0
Noesi 2 5 2 2 2 1
Kinney 1 1 0 0 2 0
C.Smith 1 1 0 0 0 1
J.Arias 1 2 2 0 0 0
Farquhar 1 0 0 0 0 1
B.LaFromboise S,1 1 2 2 1 2 3
Rangers IP H R ER BB SO
Grimm L, 0-2 2 1/3 6 6 6 2 4
J.Brigham 2/3 0 0 0 0 0
Nathan 1 1 0 0 1 0
M.Perez 1 1 1 1 2 0
J.Yan 1 0 0 0 0 1
Balester 1 0 0 0 1 1
Beliveau 1 2 0 0 0 1
Lindblom 1 0 0 0 0 1
WP — Grimm. T — 3:22. A — 6,104.

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