Lee's lessons resonate with Vargas
Mariners lefty faces off vs. former teammate Saturday
SEATTLE -- In the five months left-hander Jason Vargas spent as one of Cliff Lee's teammates, the thing that impressed him the most was Lee's mental approach.
"He was really confident on the mound in the way he worked," Vargas said on Friday. "He wasn't afraid of anybody, and that contributes to a lot of his success. We all took a lot from that."
Vargas and Lee will share the same mound at Safeco Field for the first time on Saturday night in the second game of a three-game series against the Rangers.
Lee, traded to Texas on July 9, along with reliever Mark Lowe for first baseman Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan and Josh Lueke, makes his first appearance at Safeco Field since the deal.
Vargas said he tried to learn as much as he could from Lee and it was like going back to school.
"We pitch a little different, but he talked about different ways of pitching different guys, lefty versus righty," Vargas said. "It's something you always chat about on the bench.
"But he's a Cy Young Award winner and anytime you can learn anything from how they do it, it's pretty cool. He worked quickly. He wasn't afraid. He came right after you. He pounded the strike zone. He's not going to walk you, he's going to make you put the ball in play, or make you miss it."
Lee also talked about the importance of not letting the opposition know how you felt on any given day.
"One of the things that stuck out, and something my dad had told me a lot when I was growing up -- and this was in a meeting in Spring Training -- is that regardless of whether you have your A game or your D game, nobody else knows that but you.
"You have to go out there regardless, and you're the only one who knows. So just pound the zone and what happens, happens."
Vargas happens to currently be on a five-game losing streak, dating to Aug. 14.
"I don't think I've lost anything. There were some games I lost. ... The game against Minnesota I didn't really get hit hard. Balls fell through and I lost that game. In New York, there was the first inning. I don't think I've thrown the ball badly, or any worse than I did early on. Different things happen in the game.
"The game I threw against the Angels in my last start was one of my better ones."
Ichiro inches closer to history
SEATTLE -- The Ichiro-hit-meter located in right field went up two ticks on Friday night.
The first one occurred in the first inning, when Ichiro Suzuki bunted for a single, his 190th hit of the season. Two innings later, he drove a single into center field for No. 191.
The 10-time All-Star is trying to join Pete Rose as the only players in Major League history to accumulate at least 200 hits in 10 seasons.
Ichiro also lined into a double play in the fifth inning against Rangers left-hander C.J. Wilson and struck out in the eighth inning.
With 15 games remaining and only nine hits short of the mark, it appears that Ichiro is a virtual lock to set the American League record, which he currently shares with Ty Cobb.
Ichiro, Figgins each reach 40 stolen bases
SEATTLE -- One aspect of the Mariners offense that has performed as expected showed up again on Friday night.
Ichiro Suzuki and Chone Figgins each reached the 40-steal mark during the Mariners' series opener against the Rangers, becoming the first Seattle tandem in 23 years to accomplish the feat.
Ichiro swiped his 40th and 41st bases in the third inning and Figgins also stole No. 40 in the third.
It is the first time Seattle has had two players with 40 stolen bases since Harold Reynods (60) and Phil Bradley (40) ran so consistently well in 1987.
White passes medical test
SEATTLE -- Right handed reliever Sean White, bothered by soreness in his right forearm just above the wrist, will resume playing catch on Sunday and hopes to be available soon after that.
He was examined on Wednesday and cleared to resume workouts.
"They say everything looks good," White said on Friday. "We're taking a couple of more days to let it get better, but it's nothing to worry about."
White last appeared in a game on Sept. 1, pitching one inning against the Angels.
How important is it for him to get in at least one more outing before the season ends?
"We are going to play it by ear," White said, "but it's always nice to finish up the season knowing you are healthy."
Interim manager Daren Brown echoed that thought.
"I think it's important for a guy to get on the mound at some point at the end of the year, just from a mental standpoint of knowing nothing is wrong," Brown said. "The mental standpoint of knowing nothing is wrong is big, and we've already done the tests and stuff. It says there is nothing there, but if he still feels soreness, you have to go on what he says and what he feels.
"But for his own peace of mind, it would be good [to pitch at least one more time]."
Minors' best players selected
SEATTLE -- Right-hander Michael Pineda -- a pitcher with a chance to become part of the Mariners' starting rotation next season -- has been selected as the organization's Pitcher of the Year. First baseman Richard Poythress landed Player of the Year.
The 21-year-old Pineda went 11-4 with a 3.36 ERA in 25 starts for Double-A West Tennessee (8-1 with a 2.22 ERA) and Triple-A Tacoma (3-3 with a 4.76 ERA).
"Michael had a breakthrough season and showed his true talent this season," said Pedro Grifol, the Mariners' director of player development. "He was a true competitor at both levels and put his name on the map as one of the most talented pitchers in the Minors."
Pineda, expected to be a late-season callup from Tacoma, has been shut down for the remainder of the season to prevent him from throwing too many pitches.
But he could be one of the favorites to be in Seattle's rotation next season.
He was named the Pacific Coast League's Pitcher of the Week for June 28-July 4 after going 1-0 with 21 strikeouts in back-to-back starts.
It could be a few more years before Poythress becomes a fixture in the Mariners' lineup, but he certainly opened some eyes during his stellar season with Class A High Desert.
He led all Minor Leaguers with 130 RBIs (averaging 1.06 per game), batted .315, hit 33 doubles and 31 home runs in 123 games. He ranked first in RBIs, second in slugging percentage (.580), third in home runs and tied for ninth in batting average.
Poythress was the Mariners' second-round selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Georgia.
"Rich had a remarkable season," Grifol said. "He was consistent throughout the season on the road and at home. He put together an impressive season and we are very excited about his future in our organization."
The Mariners also named Jose Castro as the Player Development Staff Member of the Year.
Castro started the season as the Minor League hitting instructor and ended it as the Tacoma manager, taking over for Daren Brown, who replaced Don Wakamatsu as the Mariners' skipper on Aug. 9.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.