Ibanez says Morse's confidence is big key
Raul Ibanez knows all about home run tears like the one his good buddy, Michael Morse, has been on the past few days. Morse had clubbed four...
Seattle Times staff reporter;
CHICAGO — Raul Ibanez knows all about home run tears like the one his good buddy, Michael Morse, has been on the past few days.
Morse had clubbed four home runs his last three games heading into Friday night's clash between his Mariners and the Chicago White Sox. In 2009, Ibanez hit homers in four consecutive mid-May games, giving him 17 in the first six weeks of the season after leaving Seattle as a free agent and signing with the Philadelphia Phillies.
And Ibanez learned enough from that streak that he isn't about to mention it to Morse, his friend and former training partner from when they lived in the Miami area during the offseason.
"When you're doing it, you don't realize what's happening," Ibanez said. "You're just hitting and just kind of focused. It's only after it's over where you just kind of step back and see what everybody else has been seeing and saying."
Ibanez said Morse always believed he could be this kind of hitter. Even in the days before his 2009 trade to Washington, when he was still a fresh-faced minor leaguer trying to crack the Mariners lineup in which Ibanez and other veterans were playing every day.
"The difference now is his confidence," Ibanez said. "He's so confident. And that's because he got an opportunity to play. He always knew what he was capable of, but once you do it, you absolutely, wholeheartedly know."
• Felix Hernandez takes the mound Saturday looking for career win No. 100 and needs five more strikeouts to notch 1,500 for his career. This will be his final start at age 26, as he turns 27 on Monday.
Research by the Elias Sports Bureau and Mariners public relations official Jeff Evans found that Hernandez has notched the fifth-highest strikeout total of any pitcher since 1900 before turning 27.
Those ahead of Hernandez: Bert Blyleven (1,728), Walter Johnson (1,683), Sam McDowell (1,653) and Dwight Gooden (1,541).
• Game-time temperature on Friday was 34 degrees, tying it for the coldest first-pitch start by the Mariners in 25 years. There had been only 10 previous Mariners games since complete records began being kept in 1988 that had temperatures below 40 degrees.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge was asked by a Chicago writer beforehand whether his squad was a good "cold hitting" team.
"Well, we'll find out," Wedge said. "It's part of it early in the season. You know, I lived in it a lot of years, obviously, managing in Cleveland. So, this time of the year, this part of the country, you're going to have days like this."
• Wedge was also asked about whether he'd do extra monitoring of Franklin Gutierrez in the cold, given how he missed several spring training games recovering from tight muscles in his legs.
"He's grown to be quite the study of his own body because he has had so many issues," Wedge said. "I do trust him to take care of himself but we'll do a fly-by with some of these guys and just remind them what we need to do and pay attention."
Gutierrez wasted little time showing he can play in the cold. He hit his second leadoff home run of the week, a blast to right field on a 1-2 pitch from White Sox starter Jose Quintana.
• Adam Dunn shocked just about everybody in the ballpark in the fourth inning when he stole second base. It was only the third steal since 2008 for the 6-foot-6, 285-pound designated hitter.
• Mariners starter Blake Beavan had just given up a single to Dunn, then seemed to pay little attention to him at the bag. Dunn timed his break for when Beavan went into his delivery and made it to second without drawing a throw.