Carp planning special tribute to Halman
First baseman preparing T-shirt in slain teammate's honor
PEORIA, Ariz. -- When the Mariners fly to Oakland on Thursday to resume their regular season, left fielder Mike Carp will remain behind in Arizona to rehab the sprained right shoulder that landed him on the 15-day disabled list last week.
But while he's working to get healthy, possibly in time for the Mariners home opener in Safeco Field on April 13, Carp also hopes to wrap up plans on a commemorative T-shirt in honor of former teammate Greg Halman, who was stabbed to death on Nov. 21 in his native Netherlands.
Carp, 25, had orange Halman shirts made for all the Mariners players and coaches at the start of Spring Training. After hearing that some fans might be interested in purchasing shirts, with proceeds to go to a charity in Halman's name, Carp set about seeing if that could happen.
But the process had more hurdles than expected, including a denial from the Jackie Robinson Estate to allow free use of the Robinson quote that is on the back of the original shirts.
The quote reads, "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."
So he's trying to gauge how much fan interest there might be in order to determine how many shirts to order. He said he will also welcome feedback on what to put on the back of the shirt, instead of the Robinson quote.
His current idea is to put Halman's favorite mantra -- "No grind, no shine" -- on the back, below Halman's name. The front of the shirt will have an enlarged Great Dane and the Dutch words "Broer voor het leven," which translates to "Brother for life."
Carp said he was surprised at the Jackie Robinson Estate's stance.
"I don't understand that," said Carp. "[Halman] was an ambassador to baseball in Holland and Europe. He was going to be sort of the Jackie Robinson for Holland. So that's kind of disappointing. But at the same time they have their own objectives. I can't get mad at them. It's OK."
Carp said the entire process has been a bigger challenge than anticipated.
"I thought it would go a lot quicker than it did, but we're here now and we at least have the foundation set up," he said. "Now we just need to get the ball rolling."
Kawasaki raises spring average to .455
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Munenori Kawasaki came to Seattle this spring renowned as a good defensive shortstop from Japan, with questions regarding whether he could hit Major League pitching.
But the energetic 30-year-old has answered that with a red-hot spring that landed him the utility infielder's role to start the season.
Kawasaki improved his Cactus League-leading batting average to .455 with a 2-for-4 effort Tuesday in a 9-8 loss to the Rockies at Salt River Fields.
"He's been a little better than advertised," said manager Eric Wedge. "He's done a nice job with his bat and using the field. He's got a nice short game to him. I've just been real pleased with his overall game."
Kawasaki's RBI triple to right-center in the fifth inning pushed the Mariners into a 6-5 lead. He also reached on an infield single leading off in the first.
Kawasaki is now 12-for-19 over his past five Cactus League games, leaving him 20-for-44 for the spring. His on-base percentage is at .489, raising the question of whether he could potentially fill the leadoff role he played on Tuesday.
"I think he could handle it," Wedge said. "He's the type of player you could hit anywhere in your order. Situationally he's sound and he's going to put up a professional at-bat. He's shown us already that he's a strong, professional hitter."
Wedge doesn't see Kawasaki challenging for a starting role at this point, however, believing he'll find playing time at various spots in a backup situation.
"Kawasaki's role on this team is more of a utility type," said the skipper. "But one thing we've talked about doing is playing everybody as much as we can and keeping everybody fresh and strong. So that's where I see Kawasaki fitting in."
Mariners' bullpen coming into focus
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Mariners used Tuesday's Cactus League game against the Rockies as a bullpen day, as manager Eric Wedge used five different relievers to soak up all nine innings in the 9-8 loss.
Rookie Erasmo Ramirez, who appears to have wrapped up a bullpen spot, started the game and gave up two runs on four hits in three innings.
While closer Brandon League and set-up man Tom Wilhelmsen combined to allow seven runs (four earned) in a game where Seattle committed five errors, left-handers George Sherrill and Charlie Furbush both threw well.
Furbush would seem to be competing with Rule 5 Draft pick Lucas Luetge for the final bullpen berth after Shawn Kelley was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday. That decision will be finalized Wednesday, but Furbush didn't hurt his case any with 2 2/3 innings of hitless relief with one walk and two strikeouts, lowering his Cactus League ERA to 0.87.
"He's had a good spring," said Wedge. "We've transitioned him more to the bullpen, but I look at the way he's throwing the ball and some left-handers are giving some ground to him and he's competing well against right-handers. He's got a good arm. He's still developing and still getting better."
Sherrill struggled in Seattle's 4-1 loss to the A's last Thursday in Tokyo and has been coming along slowly with some stiffness in his arm, but the veteran pitched a scoreless fifth inning with one walk and one strikeout against the heart of the Rockies' order.
"He had a better fastball and threw a couple decent breaking balls," Wedge said. "Hopefully he'll feel OK tomorrow and we can get him back out there [for the Cactus League finale]."
As for the decision to send down Kelley?
"We just need him to be more consistent with all his pitches, particularly the slider," Wedge said. "We saw what he's capable of doing at the end of last year. He just needs to go down there and pitch and tighten his game up a little bit and be prepared when we need him."
• With a 16-hit game Tuesday, the Mariners improved their Cactus League batting average to .296 with one game remaining. They hit .254 last spring as a team.
"It's been a very good offensive spring and that's a big step for us," said manager Eric Wedge. "It's moving the right direction. We've got a lot of things going on that are real offensively and that should play for us during the season."
• Carlos Peguero hit his team-leading fifth home run Tuesday, raising the Mariners' total to 28 home runs in 25 games this spring. A year ago, Seattle totaled 27 long balls in 31 games.
• Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders and George Sherrill, three players who'd been sent home sick for several days after returning from Japan, all were back in business Tuesday and played in Seattle's 9-8 loss to the Rockies. Saunders went 2-for-3 to raise his spring average to .350.
• Closer Brandon League got roughed up in the sixth inning Tuesday, allowing four runs (three earned) with two hits and two walks in just one-third of an inning as his spring ERA climbed to 5.06. But don't put too much stock into that. League's ERA last spring was 5.54 and he went on to save 37 games and earn his first All-Star appearance.
• The Mariners concluded their home Cactus League schedule with an attendance of 102,681 fans in 13 games at Peoria Stadium, their ninth straight year of 100,000-plus attendance despite playing fewer games than normal due to their trip to Japan and one rainout.
The Mariners average attendance of 7,899 per game was second behind the Angels among American League teams in the Cactus League and seventh overall (also behind the Giants, D-Backs, Rockies, Cubs and Dodgers).