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03/04/10 8:30 PM EST
Sore Aardsma may miss next outing
Mariners closer has tightness in groin following debut
By Jim Street / MLB.com
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The final pitch right-handed closer David Aardsma threw in his one-inning Cactus League debut on Thursday afternoon caused some tightness in his groin and he might miss his next outing. "He had a little bit of tightness, but we don't think it is very serious," manager Don Wakamatsu said after the Mariners scored six runs in the eighth inning for a 9-3 victory over the Padres at Peoria Stadium. "He may miss one outing, and hopefully that's it." Aardsma was handed the closer's role almost seven weeks into the 2009 season and turned in a career year. He converted 38 of his 42 save chances after coming into the season with no career saves. "It came on his very last pitch and he felt something in his groin and hopefully we catch it before it becomes anything serious." Other than that glitch, the second game of the Cactus League season went well for the Mariners. Starting pitcher Jason Vargas retired five of the six batters he faced, first basemen Ryan Garko and Tommy Everidge went a combined 3-for-4 with two home runs and six RBIs, designated hitter Mike Sweeney had two hits and Eric Byrnes provided many watts of energy in left field. Everidge delivered the door-slammer, a grand slam to cap the six-run eighth inning, a rally that started on Mike Wilson's run-scoring double to right-center. First-round Draft choice Dustin Ackley added an RBI single. Vargas is among four pitchers vying for the fifth spot in the rotation, and he did all the right things in his spotless two-inning stint. "I thought Vargas' tempo and everything were great today," Wakamatsu said.Vargas said. "I felt very solid. You know, just warming up you get a sense of where you are going to be that day, and I felt like the right things were moving in the right places. I was able to carry that onto the field." He hopes to carry that feeling all the way through Spring Training and on into the regular season as the fifth starter. "I try not to think about anything like that because there obviously are four of us and you don't ever want wish anything bad about anyone, especially when they are on your own team," he said, referring to fellow candidates Doug Fister, Luke French and Garrett Olson. So just going out there to do your thing to the best of your ability, root for everybody else and let the pieces fall where they fall." One of the players acquired from the Mets in the three-team, 12-player trade two years ago, Vargas posted a 3-6 record and 4.91 ERA for the Mariners last season. He made 23 appearances, including 14 starts. More than anything, he proved that the hip injury that cost him the entire 2008 season was a thing of the past and he made it through the entire '09 season injury-free. "In fairness to him coming off surgery the year before, he's healthy and he looks in better shape," Wakamatsu said. The 27-year-old lefty said he feels better now than at any the past few seasons. "As a whole, my body feels stronger after a rehab-free season and getting in the kind of work I wanted to during the offseason. That goes along with how strong your arm is going to feel." After the game, Wakamatsu said center fielder Franklin Gutierrez (sore right shoulder) is much improved and should be able to play on Sunday or Monday. Catcher Rob Johnson, who had surgery on both hips during the offseason, is a little sore after running on Wednesday. Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez had similar surgery on one hip last year, and Wakamatsu said head trainer Rick Griffin suggested having Rodriguez speak to Johnson. "A young kid like him, he knows the situation here is wide open for him and he's going to want to push it a little bit. We're going to have to hold him back a little."
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Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.