Non-roster invitee Elias impresses in first spring start
Saunders goes 2-for-3, extending hit streak to seven games
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Mariners prospect Roenis Elias impressed in his first Cactus League start and Angels No. 2 starter C.J. Wilson rebounded nicely from a rough first inning in Seattle's 5-3 win in front of a sold-out crowd at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Sunday.
Elias, a 25-year-old left-hander signed out of Cuba, gave up only two runs in six innings against an Angels lineup that featured every starter except Josh Hamilton and Raul Ibanez, giving up two hits, walking two and striking out a pair. Elias spent all of last season in Double-A, posting a 3.18 ERA in 22 starts, but has turned heads in Mariners camp and could compete for a spot in the rotation with Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker, both expected to start the season on the disabled list.
Elias left Cuba in 2010 and spent a year playing professional ball in Mexico before getting signed by the Mariners following a tryout. He's spent three years in Seattle's Minor League system and is a non-roster invitee to this year's Major League camp for the first time.
"I do see this as a big opportunity," Elias said through interpreter Fernando Alcala. "I've been waiting for this opportunity for a while, just working hard to get out there and show them I can do this."
Facing the division-rival Mariners for the third time in his last four starts, Wilson gave up two runs in a first inning that saw him face eight batters. But he settled down after that, retiring 12 of 15 batters from the second to the fifth inning -- five on strikeouts -- and then exiting in the sixth with two on and none out.
Cory Rasmus allowed both of his inherited runners to score that inning, giving up a sacrifice fly to Willie Bloomquist and an RBI double to Endy Chavez to put Wilson's ERA at 2.81 in 16 Cactus League innings.
Mariners right fielder Michael Saunders extended his hitting streak to seven games with his 2-for-3 day and is batting .367 this spring. With an RBI single off Wilson in the first, he increased his team-high RBI total to 11.
Left fielder Dustin Ackley now has a hit in 12 of 13 games this spring and notched his 10th RBI with his first-inning single. He's hitting .432 (16-for-37) with his 1-for-3 Sunday.
Angels shortstop Erick Aybar went 2-for-3, leading off the fifth with a triple and then coming around to score on a long fly ball to straightaway center field by catcher Chris Iannetta. The Angels scored again in the sixth, when Kole Calhoun led off with a single, stole second base and scored on David Freese's RBI single.
Up next: The Mariners have their first off day of the spring on Monday. They'll be back in action Tuesday with veteran southpaw Randy Wolf on the mound for a 7:05 p.m. PT game against the Padres in Peoria. Wolf, 37, has allowed six runs on 10 hits - including four homers - in nine innings over three previous starts as he attempts to land a rotation berth as a non-roster invitee. Second baseman Robinson Cano again will not play as he'll be returning Tuesday from a trip to the Dominican to deal with a personal issue and won't be in the lineup until Wednesday.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.