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Tuesday, March 09, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Mariners
Notebook: Melvin questions Davis' calls in loss to Angels

By Bob Sherwin
Seattle Times staff reporter

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PEORIA, Ariz. — Mariners catcher Ben Davis came under some scrutiny yesterday from manager Bob Melvin during a 5-3 loss to the Anaheim Angels.

Hard-throwing left-hander Matt Thornton entered the game with a 1-0 lead and worked a scoreless fourth. But in the fifth he allowed two-out, back-to-back home runs to Vladimir Guerrero and Jose Guillen to make it 3-1. Both long balls came on changeups called by Davis.

"Actually I thought Matt threw pretty well," Melvin said. "Maybe the pitch selection wasn't good, with back-to-back changes when the guys were behind (on his fastball) the whole time. We have a guy behind the plate (Davis) who's got to know that.

"Everybody in our dugout was commenting how quickly the ball was getting on the hitters. It just exploded out of his hand. (Troy) Glaus mentioned to (third-base coach) Dave Myers that it looked like 100 miles per hour."

Thornton, a former No. 1 draft choice who likely will reach Class AAA Tacoma this season, initially got into trouble when he walked David Eckstein on a two-out, 3-2 slider. Eckstein had fouled off four fastballs.

"The guy behind the plate has to lead him some, too. He's aware," said Melvin, who talked to Davis between innings and said he will again today.

Franklin, Myers pitch well

Starter Ryan Franklin went two innings in his second start, allowing two hits and no runs and striking out two. Lefty Mike Myers also had a decent one-inning effort, yielding a one-out double to Eckstein but getting out of the inning with two infield ground outs.

Scott Spiezio had two hits to lead the Mariners' 12-hit attack. Shin-Soo Choo also had two hits, including a bases-loaded single in the ninth that nearly helped the Mariners come back for the victory. Dave Hansen, trying to score from second, was thrown out at the plate for the second out. A.J. Zapp then struck out to end the game.

Ibanez nice and edgy
 
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Melvin said he has been impressed with the different facets he sees in Raul Ibanez, who has returned to Seattle as a free agent.

"The thing with Ibanez: he's one of the nicest men you'll ever run across," Melvin said, "but he plays with an edge out there."

Ibanez, humbled by that description, responded, "I think off the field it's more important to be a good person and treat people with respect that they deserve. But on the field I'm going to bust my butt to beat you. I want to win no matter what. I get pretty intense."

Johnson contacts team

Pitcher Rett Johnson, who abruptly and inexplicably left camp two days ago, has been in contact with club officials.

"A lot of people are talking to Rett. We feel very hopeful that he'll be back," pitching coach Bryan Price said. "It's tough to know what's going on with kids. When they come to camp, you want to spend time with them and find out who they are as people. But it's tough with 27 pitchers early on in camp."

Olerud a natural 2

John Olerud hit No. 2 in the batting order yesterday, a change for the heretofore middle-order hitter. He walked in three plate appearances. In the third, he delivered what Melvin had hoped. He made contact on a hit-and-run with Ichiro on first. The pitcher threw Olerud out at first, but it allowed the Mariners to avoid the double play. Ichiro later scored in the inning.

"John has all the attributes of a No. 2 hitter except speed," Melvin said. "He's a deep-count guy, he uses the whole field, he's a great contact and hit-and-run guy, he's left-handed. All those things."

Notes

Edgar Martinez, who had been struggling with a stiff neck the past two days, did not play. He is expected to be the designated hitter today.

• Melvin, who had elbow surgery before camp started, pitched batting practice Sunday for the first time. He said the elbow was a little sore yesterday, "But there's no problem. I should be back out there (today)."

• Pitcher Rafael Soriano, who is being brought along slowly because of an oblique strain, threw on the side yesterday without discomfort. He is expected to pitch one inning today.

Gil Meche will have his second spring start today against the Texas Rangers. Terry Mulholland starts tomorrow against the Angels in the club's first road trip.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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