The present and the future were both shining for the Mariners Thursday in a 10-5 win over the Angels in Peoria, AZ.
Left-handed starter Erik Bedard, who could be a huge plus for the Mariners in 2011 if he can remain healthy hes been hurt most of the last three seasons turned in his third above-average start, allowing one run in 2.2 innings against the Angels.
And the future, in the person of third baseman Alex Liddi, showed itself with Liddi hitting a grand slam for the second time in as many days. This one came with the Angels and Mariners locked in a 4-all tie in the fifth inning, and the Mariners went on to score seven times in the inning.
Liddi, bidding to become the first Italian-born player to appear in the big leagues in half a century, has virtually no chance to start the season with Seattle. He still needs work in the high minor leagues.
He hit .281 with 15 homers and 92 RBIs at Double-A West Tennessee in 2010, and hes ticketed to play third base at Triple-A Tacoma in 2011.
Clearly the Mariners are high on him, and the bases-loaded homers Wednesday and again Thursday are suggestions that they may be on to something with the third baseman, who has just two grand slams as a professional since leaving Italy.
“Thats the first time (in back-to-back games), for sure, Liddi told the Seattle media. “When I was at the plate, I heard the fans say, ‘do it again. I was just trying to get something over second base. What happened wasnt what I was trying to do.
What happened was that Liddi got a pitch that was almost right down the middle and a little on the inside.
“I was just trying to get two runs in (with a single), Liddi said.
It was the second homer of the game for the Mariners and the fifth in the last two days. Gabe Gross, in the running for an outfield job, got the games first runs home with a homer that made it 2-0 in the second.
As for Bedard, he has allowed just one run over 5.2 innings in three spring starts, and manager Eric Wedge said hes happy with the progress the left-hander is making. Bedard started half as many games as Seattle had hoped in both 2008 and 2009, then none last year as hes had to go through three surgeries.
“Bedard threw the ball well again today, Wedge said. “His delivery was clean; he was making the baseball do what he wants it to do.
The win was the fourth in succession for the Mariners, who have won five of their last six to improve to 7-4-1 in Cactus League plays.
NOTES: Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez left the team Thursday to fly to join his wife, Vivian, as they spend hospital time with her father, former big leaguer Luis Salazar. The one-time big league infielder suffered multiple facial fractures after he was hit in the face by a line drive while coaching for the Atlanta Braves Wednesday. Salazar is a coach in the Braves in the minor league system. Ichiro Suzuki had two hits and raised his spring average to .364 (8-for-22) and drove in a run in the process. Ryan Langerhans had a single and a double and extended his hitting streak to four games. Newly acquired lefty reliever Aaron Laffey, pitching in just his second game in a Seattle uniform, got the win by pitching two innings, allowing one run and three hits. Michael Pineda, who was held to two innings in his last start, pitches today on slightly short rest (three days) Friday against Cleveland in Goodyear. Felix Hernandez will pitch in a minor league intrasquad game Saturday. Why? The game that day is against the Oakland As, against whom Hernandez made his last start and the team he will face on opening day, April 1 in Oakland.