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Sunday, April 04, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
By Bob Sherwin
SAN DIEGO The acquisition of utility player Jolbert Cabrera just before regular-season rosters were set last night underscored the Mariners' concern over third baseman Scott Spiezio's back injury.
Cabrera, 31, played 128 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, hitting .282 with 32 doubles, six home runs and 37 runs batted in. He has played eight positions in his six-year big-league career with Cleveland and Los Angeles, mostly in the outfield. He has played third base in 35 of his 448 big-league games.
"With Scott Spiezio unavailable for the start of the season, we felt it was important to have a versatile, veteran infielder to give (manager) Bob (Melvin) flexibility off the bench," general manager Bill Bavasi said in a statement. "Jolbert can play a variety of positions."
There was still no word on the nature of Spiezio's injury, which was triggered when he stepped awkwardly on the mound in a March 25 spring game. He has been examined by back specialists in Phoenix and will join the team for Tuesday's season opener in Seattle. Spiezio was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 28.
In the trade for Cabrera, the Mariners sent two minor-league pitchers to the Dodgers, right-hander Aaron Looper and left-hander Ryan Ketchner. Looper, 27, son of Benny Looper, Mariners vice president of player development, was 1-0 with a 1.97 earned-run average in six spring games. He appeared in six games for the Mariners last season. Ketchner, 21, was 14-7 with a 3.45 ERA in 31 games for Class A Inland Empire last season.
Utility infielder Ramon Santiago, acquired from Detroit for shortstop Carlos Guillen, was optioned to AAA Tacoma to make room for Cabrera.
The Mariners, who will open the season with 12 pitchers, kept lefty Mike Myers instead of veteran lefty Terry Mulholland to get down to the roster limit of 25. Mulholland, a camp invitee, is free to sign with any team.
Bloomquist to start at third
Willie Bloomquist, who made the Opening Day roster for the second straight year, will start at third base Tuesday.
Bloomquist has hit only .219 this spring, but Melvin believes he is coming around.
Bloomquist had two hits last night in the exhibition game against San Diego, a double in the third inning and a hard single in the fifth. He also made a nice play, charging a slow bouncer and finishing with a strong throw to nail the runner by a step.
"I've been working all spring trying to find the right timing mechanism," Bloomquist said. "I struggled early on but the past week or so I've been able to fine-tune things."
Bloomquist, who hit .250 in 89 games last season, knows the club wants him to hit better. But he understands that his glove will keep him playing.
"I just want to play solid. I'd like to play solid defensively and be somewhat of an offensive contributor as well," Bloomquist said. "I don't want to be just a defensive specialist. But first and foremost is to play good defense, and secondly, make something happen offensively."
He doesn't like the fact that he assumed his position because of an injury.
"I feel terrible about Scott. He's a great guy and had been planning to come in here and be an impact guy," Bloomquist said. "I know he's disappointed about it and I'm disappointed for him.
"The timing couldn't have been any worse. From the team's standpoint, he was the guy we were counting on. That's what I have to do now, step in and play solid."
Franklin, Garcia allow homers
The Mariners sent out two starting pitchers to try to calm the Padres last night in their 7-4 victory, the first big-league game, albeit unofficial, at Petco Park.
Ryan Franklin worked the first three innings, allowing a two-run home run to Brian Giles. Then Freddy Garcia, who was rained out of his start Friday in Phoenix, went three innings, giving up solo home runs to Mark Loretta and Ryan Klesko in the sixth. Klesko's tied the score at 4-4.
Ibanez streak snapped
Mariners outfielder Raul Ibanez entered last night's game with 11 hits in his previous 11 at-bats. But in his first at-bat, he lined out to left field in the second inning. But in the seventh, he singled to right, driving in the go-ahead run.
Eddie almost ready
Closer Eddie Guardado, who had some knee soreness earlier in camp, did not get as much work as the club would have liked this spring. He appeared in only seven games.
Guardado is expected to pitch in the spring finale against the Padres today.
"If he has a good bullpen and an outing (today)," Melvin said, "he'll be ready to go."
Ichiro made a fine running catch of a hard-hit ball by Jay Payton in the right-center gap. He caught up to it after a long run then stretched to bring it down.
The Mariners have been on a hitting tear. They had 54 hits and 39 runs in their previous three games while hitting .415 as a team.
Mariners reserve Hiram Bocachica, playing right field, flipped cleats over cranium after he ran into a low wall chasing a foul ball in the eighth inning. The crowd of 36,594 moaned, but he got up quickly and trotted back to his position.
Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company
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