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03/11/10 6:50 PM ET

Moore to backstop Hernandez's first start

Snell hurls three shutout innings vs. Giants

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In the better-safe-than sorry department, the Mariners have decided that Adam Moore will start behind the plate in Felix Hernandez's first Cactus League outing Sunday against the Rockies in Tucson.

Rob Johnson was Hernandez's regular catcher most of last season and they worked splendidly together. But he also had three offseason surgeries and manager Don Wakamatsu said it is imperative for other catchers to work with Hernandez this spring, just in case.

"We think Rob will be ready [for the regular season], but if he's not, we need to be prepared," he said. "This also gives Rob a chance to catch Cliff Lee [on Monday].

"Rob and Felix worked extremely well together last year and the plan is to keep that going as much as we can during the season. But you never know about injuries, and the more we can cross-catch different guys I think it will be beneficial."

Johnson caught Hernandez's last simulated game. "He came out of it real well and ran again today," Wakamatsu said.

Moore has been the busiest of the seven catchers in camp, becoming the first to start back-to-back games -- Wednesday at Surprise against the Rangers and Thursday in Scottsdale against the Giants.

Wakamatsu said Moore was the player of the game in the Mariners' 6-2 victory over San Francisco before 10,762 at Scottsdale Stadium.

"I really like what's going on behind the plate," Wakamatsu said. "He threw a runner out and made a couple of nice bunt plays. I like the way he's moving back there."

Right-hander Ian Snell was superb in his second start, holding the Giants to one hit and no runs in three innings.

"I am very pleased with the way I pitched today," he said. "I was real excited because I haven't pitched in a week and I get real giddy when I have been out for so long. I wanted to get out there."

Snell won five of his last six decisions last season and figures to begin the regular season as the third or fourth starter.

Regardless, he's thrilled to have a chance to be part of a rotation that has Hernandez and Lee at the top.

"The top two guys are very elite," he said. "They are in another group compared to me and [Ryan] Rowland-Smith. We are going to learn from those guys. I have been learning from Felix.

"Even though he is younger than me, we have spent the same amount of time [in the Majors]. I have been learning from him and he's been learning from me. We're having a good time with each other, enjoying each other, having fun."

His mission Thursday was to "just attack the hitters, attack the zone and stay down. I think I accomplished that. I wanted to spot my fastball in and out and I accomplished that, too. I am getting in something of a groove, working hard and will continue to work hard."

Setting the tempo is another point being stressed.

"Yeah, get out there and don't let them breathe. Suffocate them," he said. "When they put their foot in the box, you are ready to go. You have to show them you mean business."

The Mariners seem to mean business against two-time National League Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum. After roughing him up for three runs in the first inning in Peoria in the Cactus League opener, the Mariners added four more on six hits in 2 2/3 innings Thursday.

Second baseman Chone Figgins scored two runs and Ichiro Suzuki added one in the victory.

"The top two guys in that lineup are going to be gnats," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.