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Originally published March 4, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified March 7, 2007 at 10:05 AM

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M's Notebook | Lefty Washburn wants to get right

Plenty of players arrive at spring training in hopes of finding an inside edge. But Mariners starter Jarrod Washburn means it literally...

Seattle Times staff reporter

PEORIA, Ariz. — Plenty of players arrive at spring training in hopes of finding an inside edge.

But Mariners starter Jarrod Washburn means it literally. Washburn has spent the early part of spring training, including the two innings tossed in Seattle's 1-0 loss to the San Diego Padres on Saturday, working on throwing inside to left-handed hitters.

The tendency to get rocked by lefties, the types of hitters southpaws like Washburn are expected to get out, cost him dearly in 2006. It cost Seattle the game against San Diego as a solo home run by left-handed Terrmel Sledge off Washburn in the first inning accounted for all the scoring in a rather lackluster affair.

"That's one thing I really need to work on this year, having better success against lefties," Washburn said after allowing the lone run on two hits while striking out three in his Cactus League debut at Peoria Stadium. "Obviously, I didn't accomplish that today. I gave up two hits, and both were to lefties."

The one-out blast to left center by Sledge, formerly in the M's organization, came on a 2-2 fastball up in the zone. It was the only run the 7,804 fans at Peoria Stadium saw as both teams combined for just 10 hits, nine of them singles.

Seattle had its leadoff hitter reach base in five of the nine innings. But the runner made it to second in just one of those cases — an eighth-inning wild pitch.

Washburn had some bad luck on the second Padres hit, shattering Russell Branyan's bat on what became a bloop single to center in the second inning. Left-handed hitters batted .317 and posted a .511 slugging percentage against Washburn in a disappointing 8-14 2006 campaign after he came over from the Angels as a free agent.

"I used to throw inside to lefties all the time," said Washburn, who held them to a .266 batting average and .388 slugging percentage in 2005. "For some reason — and I don't know what it was — I got away from that last year."

Washburn has spent much time chatting about his struggles with catcher Kenji Johjima and pitching coach Rafael Chaves.

It wasn't all bad for Washburn. He struck out three, including lefty Todd Walker, and feels his off-speed pitches are further along than normal this time of spring.

"Jarrod threw a lot of strikes down in the zone, which is good to see," manager Mike Hargrove said.

$23.3M profit for M's

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The Mariners have already vastly improved over last season in one key area: their bank account.

Documents filed with the State of Washington's MLB Stadium Public Facilities District show the team posting a $23.3 million profit in 2006. That three-fold increase over the previous year, coming despite decreased attendance at games, is largely the result of more revenue from Major League Baseball.

Money from the sale of the Washington Nationals and broadcast revenue accounted for significant boosts to all MLB clubs.

The Mariners, who have upped payroll from $94 million to $111 million this season, began selling single-game tickets on Saturday and saw a slight early boost in numbers. The team had sold 70,814 tickets as of 2 p.m. (PST), up from 68,859 at the same time in 2006 but significantly off the more than 100,000 sold by that point in 2005.

Notes

• An unlikely mound hero emerged for Seattle on Saturday when veteran lefty Aaron Small was scratched from his scheduled two innings of work because of back spasms. The team instead trotted out 22-year-old Justin Thomas, a fourth-round pick from 2005, who has been working out with other minor-leaguers here as part of Seattle's offseason conditioning.

Thomas, who pitched in Class A last season, entered in the fifth and tossed two perfect innings with three strikeouts.

• Even the stadium's public-address announcer seemed to doze during Saturday's game, telling fans after the top of the ninth, with the Mariners still due up and trailing by a run: "And that's our ballgame today folks. The Mariners win, 1-0." He quickly corrected himself.

• The Mariners grounded into three 6-4-3, inning-ending double-plays, including one that ended the game.

Saturday's box score

San Diego Seattle
AB R H BI AB R H BI
JCruz rf 3 0 0 0 Ichiro cf 3 0 1 0
Venable rf 1 0 0 0 Jones cf 1 0 0 0
Sledge lf 3 1 2 1 Ordonez 2b 3 0 2 0
Cust lf 1 0 0 0 Grcaprra pr-2b 1 0 1 0
MCameron cf 3 0 0 0 Beltre 3b 3 0 0 0
Shabala cf 1 0 0 0 Morse 3b 1 0 0 0
Walker 2b 2 0 0 0 Sexson 1b 3 0 0 0
Stansberry 2b 1 0 1 0 Torcato lf 0 0 0 0
Kouzmanoff 3b 3 0 0 0 Guillen dh 3 0 1 0
Huffman 3b 0 0 0 0 Broussrd lf-1b 3 0 1 0
Branyan dh 3 0 1 0 Johjima c 2 0 0 0
Blum 1b 2 0 0 0 Burke c 1 0 0 0
Myrow 1b 1 0 0 0 Reed rf 3 0 0 0
Bowen c 2 0 0 0 Betancourt ss 2 0 0 0
Carlin c 1 0 0 0 Dawkins ss 1 0 0 0
Hundley c 0 0 0 0
Alexander ss 2 0 0 0
Robles ss 1 0 0 0
Totals 30 1 4 1 Totals 30 0 6 0
San Diego 100 000 000 1
Seattle 000 000 000 0
DP — San Diego 3, Seattle 1 LOB — San Diego 2, Seattle 3. HR — Sledge.
Padres IP H R ER BB SO
Hensley, W 2 1 0 0 0 0
Bell 1 0 0 0 0 0
Watkins 1 1 0 0 0 0
Rakers 1 1 0 0 0 0
Linebrink 1 0 0 0 0 1
Hampson 1 1 0 0 0 1
Strickland 1 1 0 0 0 2
JWells, S 1 1 0 0 0 1
Mariners IP H R ER BB SO
Washburn,L 2 2 1 1 0 3
White 2 1 0 0 0 2
Thomas 2 0 0 0 0 3
Perisho 1 1 0 0 0 0
Foppert 1 0 0 0 0 1
Jimenez 1 0 0 0 0 0
WP — Strickland. T — 2:06. A.

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