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Originally published March 8, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified March 8, 2005 at 6:03 PM

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Mariners

Notebook: Guardado looking steady

On a day when Bobby Madritsch threw 60 pitches over three innings, Eddie Guardado threw seven for three outs.

Seattle Times staff reporter

PEORIA, Ariz. — On a day when Bobby Madritsch threw five dozen pitches over three innings, Eddie Guardado threw seven for three outs.

Yet with that paltry count, Guardado managed to balance out what was a mixed day on the mound for the Mariners.

"Obviously, we're not pitching well right now," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said after Milwaukee pounded Seattle's relievers in a 14-8 Brewers win in the A game, and relievers Ron Villone and J.J. Putz dropped a five-run lead in an eight-inning morning B game against San Diego that ended in a 5-5 tie. "But Eddie threw well and that's important."

It was also important to Hargrove that his club kept its head and heart in a game it was losing by nine runs after the Brewers smacked Dan Reichert around for five runs in the top of the ninth. The Mariners scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth.

Important enough for a first for Seattle this season and maybe for any team — a two-minute meeting in the dugout after the game.

"You want a team to have mental toughness, no matter how bad the game might be going, to go out and play the game right and give itself a chance to win," Hargrove said. "We could have rolled over, down by nine runs. After our pitchers gave up nine runs in the last three innings, it could have mentally defeated a team.

"But we did not give in to that. I told them if we continue to have that total effort, we're going to have some fun this summer.

"Having said that, it's a good thing these games don't count. In Baltimore, we won the Grapefruit League twice and went out and lost 90 games. We'd like to win these games, but it's not the be-all and end-all."

Despite two losses and an 0-4 spring start for the first time since 2001, the Mariners came out ahead on a day when their closer came out healthy, with no pain or trouble with the shoulder or knee that knocked him out at midseason last year.

"I felt some anxiety before the game. I mean, you go on the DL for the first time, you don't know what to expect," said Guardado, who pitched a 1-2-3 fourth inning in the B game. "You can throw in the bullpen all you want, and it really tells you nothing. It doesn't matter until you go out and pitch and see how you feel."

When he went out and did well, he felt what he wanted — nothing.

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"I mean, I felt good," he said. "My mechanics were good; my ball had more life."

His pitches had late life down in the strike zone, which is the essence of Guardado's effectiveness.

"I let it go pretty good and I felt nothing, which is the best I could feel," he said. "I didn't care if I gave up 10 runs as long as the arm felt good, and it does."

Games at a glance

Right-hander Jorge Campillo started the B game and went three scoreless innings without being very sharp. Madritsch went three in the A game and allowed only one hard-hit ball, a two-run homer by Nelson Cruz.

"I hate to give up runs, even now," Madritsch said. "But I have to realize the important thing is to be ready for the season."

Catcher Miguel Olivo was involved in two memorable steals in the A game. In the first, he caught Milwaukee's Dave Krynzel with a tremendous throw.

On the front end of a double steal in the fourth, after Scott Spiezio took off and was caught between first and second, Olivo got a late break but was credited with a steal of home. Ironically, the last Mariner to steal home in a regular-season game was also a catcher — Dan Wilson, at Baltimore on Aug. 1, 1999.

Notes

• RHP Felix Hernandez's curly locks were neatly trimmed when he got to the park, and he smiled when he said it took 20 minutes and cost him nothing. "Balentien cut my hair," he said. "Pretty good, huh?" OF Wladimir Balentien, who cuts hair for teammates on minor-league clubs, did the honors.

• OF Shin Soo Choo's odd camp continued yesterday. Playing in the morning, he stumbled and bobbled one ball, made a nice sliding play to block a ball up the line, and hit his second homer in two days. Then he left the game and was scratched from a start in the afternoon A game — an appearance that would have given him a rare two-game day this early in spring.

Mike Morse confirmed he calls Hargrove "big dog," and also "boss," "chief" and "big man." "He is all those things, right?" the precocious infielder said. "I just want him to remember who I am."

• INF Justin Leone was cleared to play after missing five days with a strained right quadriceps.

• The Mariners sold 161,516 single-game tickets Saturday and Sunday, more than 30,000 less than the two-day total for the same weekend in 2004, but the second-best opening weekend in team history. Fewer than 4,000 tickets remain for the Mariners' opener against Minnesota on April 4.

Bob Finnigan: 206-464-8276 or bfinnigan@seattletimes.com

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