03/16/2013 2:47 AM ET
Bonderman knows he can pitch in the Majors again
By Greg Johns and Owen Perkins / MLB.com
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Jeremy Bonderman showed big league stuff in his fourth spring appearance Friday, lasting four innings and allowing just two runs on five hits and no walks. Nine of his 12 outs were ground balls, with two strikeouts and a fly to right.
"I was just trying to stay down, use the bottom part of the zone and make them swing the bat," Bonderman said. "I only really made one mistake on that double, but I'll take it."
The double came in the second frame and was the source of the only damage against Bonderman. Following a leadoff bloop single to right from Vernon Wells, Chris Iannetta laced a run-scoring double into the left-center gap, then advanced on a sacrifice and scored on a grounder to third. Bonderman allowed a one-out single in each of his remaining two innings, but induced inning-ending double plays both times.
The 32-year-old right-hander is bidding for a spot in the back end of the Mariners rotation, and is pitching for the first time since 2010. Bonderman had Tommy John surgery last April, and posted a 9.00 ERA in six Cactus League innings entering his start Friday.
"I've gotten better every outing, so I'll keep working, trying to get quick outs and get in and out," Bonderman said. "I feel good. I don't hurt at all, I'm not sore, so there's no reason to doubt my arm as of right now. If it stays the same way, I'll be good."
Bonderman is competing with returning Mariners Erasmo Ramirez (1-3, 3.36 ERA in 16 appearances -- including eight starts -- in 2012), Blake Beavan (11-11, 4.43 in 26 starts) and Jon Garland, who is trying to come back from 2011 shoulder surgery.
"There's some good guys," Bonderman conceded. "If I don't make the team, I don't make the team. It's part of the business. I proved to myself I can pitch again in the big leagues. If it ain't here, it'll be somewhere, hopefully. If not, I'll be at home."
His enviable ground-ball ratio resulted from a good mix of breaking balls, giving Bonderman confidence that his stuff is where he wants it three weeks into the Cactus League season.
"My breaking ball's gotten a lot sharper, a lot better," he said. "Location's gotten better. Overall it's getting the feel back and making adjustments on the fly. I threw four or five splits, a bunch of breaking balls, four-seam, two-seam, running it, moving it around and trying to keep them off balance a bit."
He has eight years of big league experience, all with the Tigers, and he was 1-0 with a 3.10 ERA in three postseason starts in 2006, but Bonderman knows he can't make the club on his resume. The veteran has been careful to balance the exploratory work that is important to address during Spring Training along with the need to show the Mariners that he can contribute to the rotation.
"I threw a split to a righty -- I've never done that," Bonderman said. "I'm still taking the opportunity to try stuff and work on stuff. But also I need results. It's not like when you're on a team for sure and you can go out there and really work on stuff. I'm trying to work on stuff and get results. It's working out so far."
Garland struggles for first time this spring
PEORIA, Ariz. - A relatively smooth spring for Mariners right-hander Jon Garland hit its first rough patch on Friday when the veteran gave up six hits and five runs in three innings in an 8-1 loss to The Netherlands' World Baseball Classic squad in an exhibition at Peoria Stadium.
Garland is trying to come back from shoulder surgery that has sidelined him since 2011, and he has been impressive early in camp, but the Dutch squad jumped on him quickly as former Mariners outfielder Wladimir Balentien led the charge with five RBIs in the first two frames.
Garland, 33, said he wasn't overly concerned about trying to balance the need to work on things with trying to prove himself in order to make the club as a non-roster invitee.
"I think it's a lot easier for me in the position I'm in compared to a younger guy trying to make the team," he said. "It's not going to be the end of the world for me if they tell me I'm out of here. There's 29 other teams and if somebody wants to give me a chance, they will. If not, they won't. But yeah, it's trying to do the best you can, really."
Garland said he felt fine, but was rushing his delivery and never could make the proper adjustment.
"He wasn't quite as sharp," said manager Eric Wedge. "He was up a little bit and having some problems getting his secondary stuff over. So that's a tough combination there. He just wasn't able to find it. He was trying to make some adjustments, but just wasn't able to get it back today."
Two homers, four RBIs for prospect Morban vs. Halos
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Mariners got five of their eight runs against the Angels from the long ball Friday afternoon, with outfield prospect Julio Morban accounting for four runs on his two homers.
The 21-year-old left-hander from San Cristobal hit a two-run shot to right off Angels starter Tommy Hanson in the second, then took Billy Buckner deep to center for two more runs in the eighth.
"He's a good baseball player," manager Eric Wedge said of Morban. "He has a nice swing, he has a nice approach at the plate, he's focused and he's had a great camp for us. This is a guy who came in here and made quite an impression."
Morban is the club's No. 14 prospect according to MLB.com, and has compiled a .279 Minor League average in 218 games over four seasons of Rookie ball and the Mariners' three Class A stops.
Justin Smoak also slammed a solo shot to left off Hanson in the fourth.
"He's had some real good at-bats this spring," Wedge said of Smoak. "He's in a much stronger position to hit. He's got much better balance up there, he's using his lower half and seeing the ball well."
Guti to return to Mariners lineup Sunday
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Franklin Gutierrez was not in the Mariners' lineup for a sixth straight day on Friday, but the veteran center fielder said he's fine and the team is just being cautious after he felt some tightness in his legs this week.
Manager Eric Wedge said the plan is to have Gutierrez back in the lineup Sunday when the Mariners face the Rangers in Peoria.
Gutierrez, 30, played just 40 games last season due to a torn pectoral muscle suffered in training camp and then a midseason concussion that put him back on the disabled list for two more months.
Gutierrez is off to a strong start this spring, batting .368 (7-for-19) with two doubles, three home runs and 10 RBIs in seven Cactus League games. He hasn't played since Saturday against the Dodgers, but has continued to take batting practice and work out with the team every day.
"Nothing to worry about," Gutierrez said Friday, before heading out to the field for the team's morning workout.
"He's feeling better," Wedge said. "We're obviously being very careful with him. His legs got tight on him a little bit and obviously his playing time the last couple years has been here and there. He's off to a great start here in camp performance-wise, but we have to make sure we can count on him. One of the luxuries of having a longer camp, we're able to pull him back for a couple days. But the plan is to get him back in there Sunday."
Gutierrez won an American League Gold Glove Award in 2010, but has played just 132 of the team's 324 games over the last two years due to a variety of health issues.
• Felix Hernandez won't pitch in a Cactus League game in his next scheduled start, instead opting for a four-inning stint in a Minor League game on Sunday. That keeps Hernandez from pitching against the AL West-rival Rangers that day, with Blake Beavan getting the start against Texas in Peoria.
Hernandez will then have two more spring starts -- likely facing the Padres on March 22 and Dodgers on March 27 in Peoria -- before taking the mound on Opening Day in Oakland on April 1.
• Erasmo Ramirez gets the start on Saturday when the Mariners face the Rockies at Salt River Fields. Charlie Furbush and Oliver Perez are among the relievers scheduled to throw as well.
• Sunday's game against the Rangers is the Mariners' next televised contest, with ROOT Sports broadcasting live at 1:05 p.m. PT. There will also be TV coverage this coming week against the Giants on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. PT, the Cubs on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. PT and the Indians next Saturday at 1:05 p.m. PT. Games on Sunday and Tuesday will also be available on MLB.TV.
• Michael Morse's five home runs this spring are three shy of the team's Cactus League record of eight set by Mike Wilson in 2009.
Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.