Jakubauskas extends solid spring
Mariners right-hander holds Giants to one run in five innings
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The smooth ride that Mariners right-hander Chris Jakubauskas has been on since the start of Spring Training continues to roll on impressively through the Cactus League.
The latest stop was Scottsdale Stadium, where he held the Giants to three hits and one run over five innings Monday afternoon. It was his third consecutive stellar start.
"It is getting progressively better," he said. "Each time out I am getting more and more comfortable. I am getting more fluidity with everything I do and getting more and more confident."
The smile on his face and tone of his voice are almost as indicative of his success as the numbers on the stat sheet behind his name. In three Cactus League starts, Jakubauskas has allowed two runs in 13 innings.
"He has exceeded our expectations, at least mine," manager Don Wakamatsu said after the Mariners' 5-1 victory. "He's aggressive, mixes his pitches and has some tenacity. I like what I see."
But the big picture still shows that Jakubauskas would seem to have only a slight chance of being part of the Opening Day pitching staff. He is a non-roster invitee, which means the organization must remove someone off the 40-man roster to make room for him.
He knows the rules.
"I understand the business," he said. "Whether I'm with the team right out of camp, in a couple of weeks or a month into the season, I know things can happen. If I end up going to [Triple-A] Tacoma, I am going to pitch the same way down there that I have pitched here and hopefully will get back up here as soon as I can."
Until his regular-season assignment is determined, Jakubauskas will continue to enjoy the moment for as long as it lasts.
"I try not to think about it," he said of the string of solid starts. "All streaks come to an end and you ride a streak [like this] as long as you can. I try not to think about it. I try to do the same things I have been doing since camp started. Do the same routine, repeat, repeat, repeat."
The first hit he allowed Monday was a home run to Pablo Sandoval in the first inning -- on a changeup. Jakubauskas also walked two batters and struck out three, but was never in any serious jams.
All three starts have been basically predicament free.
Wouldn't he like to encounter just one major jam to see how he reacts to it?
"Absolutely not," he said without hesitation. "If it's going to run smooth, I'll take it. It's not always going to run smooth. There will be times when I have to battle and I'll deal with those when I have to.
"All I wanted to do when I came to camp was open some eyes, and I think I have done that. I am trying to make their decision tough."
"He is making it a [tough] decision," Wakamatsu said.
"I would love to be in the big leagues," Jakubauskas said, "but ultimately that is not my decision. That is Wak's and Rick's [pitching coach Rick Adair] decision. Whatever they want me to do I will be happy to do it for them and pitch my tail off, wherever that might be."
The Mariners, who improved to 12-12-1 with the win, got two hits apiece from second baseman Jose Lopez, right fielder Wladimir Balentien and catcher Rob Johnson, and two-hit relief from David Aardsma, Denny Stark and Jesus Delgado.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.