Griffey 'a natural' in Mariners' broadcast booth
Future Hall of Famer makes impromptu visit to Rizzs on Friday
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Ken Griffey Jr. isn't an easy guy to pin down, but once he popped into the Mariners' radio booth on Friday, he made himself at home with an unexpected five innings on the air with Rick Rizzs and Ron Fairly.
Griffey, in camp for a week in his new role as a special consultant for the Mariners, showed up in the booth unannounced at the start of the club's Cactus League game against the D-backs and volunteered for duty on the 710 ESPN Seattle broadcast.
"He was great," said Rizzs, now in his 26th season as part of the Mariners' radio crew. "He's a natural. He's a talker. Are you kidding? On a scale of 1-to-10, he was a 32. He wouldn't shut up.
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"It's always easier to gear somebody down than it is to push them. He's got the talking part down. We had a great time. It was a joy."
Griffey will be in Mariners camp until Tuesday, talking to the Minor Leaguers and helping out wherever needed. Rizzs said there is no firm plan for the future Hall of Famer to be a regular part of the broadcast crew, but he expects more impromptu visits.
Rizzs will be working with Fairly, Ken Levine, Ken Wilson, Jay Buhner, Dave Henderson, Dave Valle and Dan Wilson on a rotating basis throughout the regular season in the first year without Dave Niehaus.
"Junior said he may just pop in," Rizzs said, "but I don't think he has a schedule for anything."
For Rizzs, who is dealing with the death of his long-time partner, having Griffey in the booth was a welcome event this spring.
"I saw him make his Major League debut as a player, and now I was with him when he made his Major League debut as a broadcaster," Rizzs said. "We talked, told stories, missed outs and just kept going -- Red and I and Junior -- we had a lot of fun for five innings."
Mariners get good look at bullpen candidates
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Left-handed reliever Fabio Castro, getting a look against the Rangers' "A" lineup with a two-inning start on Saturday, gave up four runs on five hits in the Mariners' 9-8 victory in 10 innings.
Manager Eric Wedge wanted to see a couple of his bullpen candidates against top-notch competition, and Castro delivered a 1-2-3 first inning against the defending American League champs. But the Rangers ripped three extra-base hits in the second -- all three getting by three different Seattle outfielders, as Michael Saunders, Ryan Langerhans and Franklin Gutierrez missed diving attempts.
Castro did get a nice double-play grounder back to the box from Nelson Cruz, but he then gave up four consecutive hits on well-hit balls.
Right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen, in his second season back after a five-year absence from baseball, replaced Castro and gave up one run on two hits. The 27-year-old pitched at the Class A level last year, but he has been having an impressive spring.
Left-hander Cesar Jimenez, a year removed from labrum surgery in his shoulder, surrendered a home run to catcher Kevin Cash in the sixth and finished his two innings with one run and three hits to his name.
Chris Ray, the one challenger to closer Brandon League, threw a scoreless seventh. David Aardsma continues rehabilitating from hip surgery, but he seems unlikely to be ready before May, given he's just begun throwing in the last week.
"We still need to see more. But you've got a guy with closing and back-end experience. A little deception in his delivery and good stuff," Wedge said of Ray. "That's what you like to see. He missed some time [with a sore calf], so we just need to keep getting him back out there and keep taking a look at him."
Lefty specialist Royce Ring pitched out of a jam in the bottom of the ninth to get the win, with Scott Patterson -- a 31-year-old Triple-A Tacoma reliever -- earning the save in the 10th.
"They had a good lineup in there today, and everybody battled," said Wedge. "You want to see how they work, and for the most part, they were aggressive. And you want to see how they handle different situations, and for the most part, they handled it OK. We've got a little more to work off now."
Doug Fister, who normally would have started Saturday, instead worked in a Minor League game against the Padres' Triple-A club. He went 4 2/3 innings, giving up four runs (two earned) on five hits with two walks, five strikeouts and two hit batters.
Fister, on track to be the Mariners No. 3 starter, threw 90 pitches as he continued stretching out with his longest outing of the spring.
Robles to have surgery on throwing elbow
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Left-handed pitcher Mauricio Robles, who was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma a week ago, will have arthroscopic surgery Tuesday to remove loose fragments in his throwing elbow.
Robles, 22, pitched in just one Cactus League game this spring, getting out of a bases-loaded jam after giving up a double and two walks against the Giants on March 8. Mariners pitching coach Carl Willis said he was being held back much of spring by a dead arm, but it appears now the issue was deeper.
Robles will undergo surgery performed by Mariners medical director Dr. Edward Khalfayan, and he is expected to resume throwing in about four weeks.
Robles, acquired in 2009 with Luke French in the trade that sent Jarrod Washburn to the Tigers, split last season between Double-A West Tenn and Tacoma. He was 6-6 with a 4.11 ERA in 22 starts with the Diamond Jaxx and 3-1 with a 3.54 ERA in five starts with the Rainiers.
The Mariners were looking at him as a possible bullpen candidate at the Major League level this spring, but they want to work him as a starter in Tacoma.
Tuiasosopo faces future in-law on diamond
PEORIA, Ariz. -- When Matt Tuiasosopo stepped into the batter's box in the eighth inning of Friday's 8-5 loss to the D-backs, he faced an interesting situation. Not only was he staring down his Spring Training roommate, he was trying to get a hit against his fiance's brother.
Tuiasosopo is engaged to Abi Owings, a Georgia woman whose brother, Micah Owings, is a pitcher for Arizona. With runners on first and third and no outs, Owings got Tuiasosopo to fly out to shallow right field.
Tuiasosopo, 24, had played against Owings before meeting his sister through a mutual friend about a year and a half ago. Now, he and the D-backs pitcher are sharing a place in Arizona.
The topic of future brother-in-laws squaring off isn't raised much away from the field, however.
"Not really," Tuiasosopo said. "She just says she doesn't ever want to be in that situation. Me and Micah stay together down here, but we don't talk a whole lot about it."
Tuiasosopo is hitting .292 in 24 at-bats this spring, while Owings is 1-1 with an 8.53 ERA in seven relief appearances since being re-signed by Arizona.