4/6/2014 9:40 P.M. ET
Young perfect in two innings in bullpen debut
By Greg Johns / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- Chris Young well remembers the only other time before Sunday he has pitched out of the bullpen while wearing a Major League uniform.
"It didn't go well," Young said with a smile. "It was the 2007 All-Star Game. Ichiro hit an inside-the-park home run off me."
Young, 34, made a better showing Sunday in his first regular-season relief appearance, as the 6-foot-10 right-hander threw two perfect innings with two strikeouts for the Mariners in a 6-3 loss to the A's.
Now in his 10th big league season, Young has made 159 career starts, and he signed with the Mariners two weeks ago to be their fifth starter after he was released by the Nationals. But his first scheduled outing was skipped when Friday's game with the A's was postponed due to poor field conditions at O.co Coliseum.
Manager Lloyd McClendon chose to keep his other starters on schedule and moved Young into a long relief role for now. With two off-days coming up during this week's opening homestand at Safeco Field, a fifth starter most likely will not be needed until April 15 at Texas.
By that time, it is possible that Taijuan Walker will be ready to come back from a Minor League injury rehab stint. So Young's opportunity to show how far he has come since his surgery last year to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome could rest largely on his relief outings.
The big right-hander says his shoulder finally feels healthy for the first time in five years, but getting a chance to prove that has been elusive. His most recent Major League game before Sunday was in 2012. In Sunday's 6-3 loss to the A's, he replaced Erasmo Ramirez in the fifth inning with no outs and two on.
Young allowed one of Ramirez's runs to score on a sacrifice fly, but he retired all six batters he faced.
McClendon said he took Young out after two innings so he would still be available in relief if needed Tuesday when the Mariners open their home season against the Angels. Young will take whatever he can get.
"I felt strong," he said. "Those two innings went by pretty quickly, but I'll be ready to go Tuesday and give the club whatever they need.
"The game is still the same. You have to make quality pitches. There are no excuses. Once you get the ball, you've got to get the job done. So that's been my mentality, take the ball and try to get outs."
Resting arm, Hart sits out of finale vs. A's
OAKLAND -- Designated hitter Corey Hart was not in the Mariners' lineup in Sunday's series finale with the A's as manager Lloyd McClendon hoped to get the right-hander a quick two-day break to help a sore right biceps muscle continue to recover.
Hart did not play in the season opener but was at designated hitter the next four games until Sunday, when Logan Morrison got the start at DH and Michael Saunders opened in right field.
Hart missed a week toward the end of Spring Training because of soreness in his right arm, which did not help his effort to regain his timing after he missed all of 2013 following two knee surgeries. He has hit .167 (3-for-18) with a home run this year.
The Mariners are off Monday prior to Tuesday's home debut against the Angels, so McClendon wanted to take advantage.
"It's a great opportunity to get him two days off, get him freshened up and ready for the home opener," McClendon said. "I think the light is starting to flick a little bit for him. You can see the hands starting to quicken up; he's starting to recognize breaking balls a little better. He's still not quite over the hump with the tissue issue with his bicep, but he's getting there. I just want to be careful with him and keep him moving forward. The opportunity to give him two days off just makes sense."
McClendon said the sore arm did not hinder Hart's throwing, just his swing, so that would not affect when he would play in right field. For now, McClendon has revolved Saunders, Morrison and rookie Stefen Romero in right, with Romero's use limited so far because the club has faced only two left-handed starters.
McClendon likes having Morrison's bat in the lineup against right-handers, bringing Saunders in for late-inning defense when both Morrison and Romero have started. Saunders replaced Morrison in the eighth inning of Saturday's 3-1 win and immediately caught a tough, low-sinking line drive.
Morrison immediately turned to McClendon in the dugout and told him he had made the right move.
"When Saunders caught that ball he said, 'That was one heck of a move, Skip, getting me out of there,'" McClendon said with a laugh. "But he's been fine. He plays the outfield a little better than I thought he would. I've been pleased with it. He'll be back out there."
As for Saunders?
"Michael is a tremendous defensive outfielder that can play all three positions," McClendon said. "There's a certain comfort with having him in the outfield. I'd be lying if I said if I had a chance to DH Morrison or Hart and play Michael in the outfield that I'd rather do it the other way around. He gives us the best defensive outfield to have him out there. But to this point, everything has worked pretty nicely for us."
Mariners to usher in home slate vs. Angels
OAKLAND -- Only scattered single tickets remain for Tuesday's home opener at Safeco Field when the Mariners face the Angels at 7:10 p.m. PT.
The game kicks off a five-game homestand, with the Angels in Seattle on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by a three-game set with the A's on Friday through Sunday.
The Mariners will salute the Super Bowl-champion Seahawks on Tuesday as part of their Opening Night ceremonies at Safeco Field, with quarterback Russell Wilson among multiple players who will be part of a pregame presentation and the ceremonial first pitch.
Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith and teammates Jermaine Kearse, K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner will also be among the Seahawks taking part.
Opening Night festivities will begin at 4:40 p.m. PT, when the gates of Safeco Field will open to the general public with a countdown at the Home Plate Gate with broadcasters Rick Rizzs and Aaron Goldsmith. All fans on Tuesday will receive a 2014 Mariners magnetic schedule.
Pregame ceremonies start at 6:30 p.m. PT and will include the ceremonial first run around the bases by a Make-A-Wish child, with Avinash Day, a 10-year-old from Tacoma doing this year's honors. Day has a diagnosis of familial polyposis, a life-threatening medical condition.
The national anthem will be performed by Navy Band Northwest, and the flags will be presented by the Lakewood Police Department and the Joint Base Lewis-McChord I Corps Command Honor Guard.
New Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano will be presented with the Silver Slugger Award he earned last year with the Yankees, and former Mariners outfielder Raul Ibanez, now playing for the Angels, will be recognized for his 2013 Hutch Award.
• Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma played long toss in the outfield, throwing about 120 feet on Sunday morning, as he continues progressing back from a sprained tendon in his right middle finger that wiped out his entire spring. The plan is for Iwakuma to throw a bullpen session midweek after the team returns to Seattle as he continues building up his arm strength.
• D.J. Peterson, the Mariners' first-round pick in the 2013 Draft, went 4-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs on Saturday night for Class A Advanced High Desert in a 9-3 win over Inland Empire. After an 0-for-4 opener, Peterson has gone 6-for-8 to put his average at .500. Outfielder Gabriel Guerrero is also off to a hot start, batting .545 (6-for-11) with a double and three RBIs.