© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
03/08/08 8:20 PM ET
Notes: Reitsma, Lowe return to mound
Relievers working way back after arm surgeries last season
By Alan Eskew / Special to MLB.com
PEORIA, Ariz. -- It was fitting Chris Reitsma and Mark Lowe walked off the field together on Saturday after each threw a scoreless inning for the Mariners in a 5-2 loss to the Athletics.
It was the first Spring Training outing for both, who were soulmates in undergoing elbow surgeries last year.
"Even though it was just spring training, I said to Reitsma, 'That's fun. I forget how fun that is,'" Lowe said. "I've been waiting about six months to get back out there."
Lowe began his career with a streak of 17 2/3 scoreless innings in 2006 before needing two elbow surgeries. The first was in October 2006 and the second during Spring Training last year, as he spent most of last season rehabbing.
Lowe said he thought after the initial surgery he would be fine, but "it didn't work out that way."
"It stinks when you can't pitch," Lowe said. "It's in the past. I'm ready to go. I felt incredible."
His first five pitches were called balls (even though Lowe said he thought three were good pitches) and he allowed a single to Mike Sweeney, but retired three A's on flyouts.
Reitsma was 0-2 with a 7.61 ERA in 26 relief appearances and made three trips to the disabled list last season before having elbow surgery. He needed only 12 pitches to get out of the sixth unscathed, allowing a harmless two-out single.
"It's a good step," Reitsma said. "I feel comfortable on the mound. It's nice not to think about your elbow. I've got nothing to lose. I worked my fanny off. I've done everything to prepare physically and mentally. Now it's just going out there trying to have some fun. That's how I'm viewing it, with a carefree attitude and just being aggressive and competing."
He said he threw all his pitches -- fastballs, breaking balls and changeups.
"It wasn't really the breaking ball that hurt me as much as the other pitches last year," Reitsma said. "It was the full extension on the fastball and changeup. But I'm not thinking about anything like that right now. That page is turned. I'm feeling healthy now. I don't really want to talk about the elbow anymore."
Manager John McLaren said he liked the way both threw.
"It would be pretty big," McLaren said of both being able to stay healthy all year. "I like the presence of both of them on the mound. Reitsma is a veteran and Lowe looks like a veteran out there."
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Ichiro Suzuki went 0-for-4 with two groundouts and two flyouts, and is 0-for-14 in his first five games.
"Ichiro wanted the extra at-bat today, so we left him in there," McLaren said. "He probably wanted his first hit of the spring,"
Is McLaren worried?
"It's not even on the radar screen, believe me," he answered. "If that's the only worry we have this year, I'll be a happy camper. I'm not concerned about it at all. I told him to bunt. I was just making light of it."
Ichiro's .333 average is the highest among active players, and he has led the American League in hits three of the past four years and has never finished lower than second. So pencil Ichiro in for 200 hits.
"I'm going to say 250," McLaren said.
Jarrod Washburn said he was, "for the most part," pleased with his four innings against the A's, allowing two runs on five hits while walking one and striking out four.
After Rob Bowen reached on an error and Donnie Murphy doubled to start the fourth, Washburn stranded both runners by striking out Casey Rogowski and Brooks Conrad swinging, and then retiring Gregorio Petit on a groundout.
"Most important, I really liked how I ended up," Washburn said. "That fourth inning, it felt really good to come out of that one the way I did."
Washburn continues to tinker with a new grip on a changeup.
"I want it nailed down, but it's been ongoing my whole career," Washburn said of his changeup. "If it gets consistent, great. It's one more pitch that I can go to out there. I'm not holding my breath."
Jose Vidro, who had been out since March 1 with a hyperextended elbow, returned to the lineup as the DH. ... Adrian Beltre was back at third base after missing a game with a bruised left thumb. ... Right-hander Anderson Garcia has been shut down from throwing for seven days after a MRI revealed shoulder inflammation. ...Catcher Brant Ust, who saw a back specialist after being hampered by spasms, participated in drills on Saturday and is scheduled to hit in the cages on Sunday.
The Mariners game Saturday was their only home game in a seven-game stretch. When they return home on Wednesday, it will mark the first time since they moved to Peoria in 1994 that they have played four straight games without a game at Peoria Stadium.
The Mariners play two road split-squad games on Sunday. Miguel Batista will start against the Brewers at Maryvale. The Brewers will counter with Claudio Vargas. Horacio Ramirez will start against the Diamondbacks in Tucson with Brandon Webb penciled in as the D-backs starter.