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News » Mariners-Twins Preview 2009-04-07

Mariners-Twins Preview 2009-04-07

Mariners-Twins Preview 2009-04-07
Erik Bedard's injury-riddled season epitomized the Seattle Mariners' disappointing 2008. If the Mariners plan on bouncing back this year, they'll likely need Bedard to do the same.

The fragile southpaw makes his first start in more than nine months on Tuesday night in Minneapolis, where Seattle will look to earn a second straight win to start the season against the Minnesota Twins.

After an 88-win season in 2007, the Mariners traded five players to Baltimore for Bedard, hoping to acquire a top left-hander to key a run at the AL West title.

Instead, Seattle lost 100 games for the first time in 25 years and Bedard (6-4, 3.67 ERA) averaged just 5 1-3 innings in his 15 starts, struggling with hip and back problems before requiring season-ending surgery on his pitching shoulder.

Bedard is ready to appear in a regular-season game for the first time since July 4 against Detroit, although he was slowed for part of the spring with sore buttocks.

He'll try to start by beating the Twins for the first time. He's 0-5 with a 4.84 ERA against them in seven career starts, with Minnesota's Justin Morneau plaguing his Canadian countryman, going 8-for-16 with two home runs.

Few Minnesota hitters had success against Mariners ace Felix Hernandez on Monday. The hard-throwing Venezuelan allowed five hits, three walks and one run in eight innings of Seattle's 6-1 win, helping first-year manager Don Wakamatsu earn a win in his debut.

"That was unbelievable," Wakamatsu said. "(Ken) Griffey (Jr.) and the boys ... just kind of congratulated me and then gave me a little (beer) shower. Pretty special to go through spring training and then start the year off with a win like this."

Starting the season without leadoff hitter Ichiro Suzuki, who is on the disabled list with a bleeding ulcer, the Mariners were powered offensively by home runs from Griffey and fellow newcomer Franklin Gutierrez.

Griffey had a solo shot in his first game with Seattle since 1999, as the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer returns to the franchise for which he starred in his first 11 major league seasons.

"He's still my favorite player, to be honest with you," Twins left fielder Denard Span said. "He looks a little different in that Seattle uniform than I remember. He looked a little slim back in the day, but he still looks good in that Mariners uniform."

Gutierrez hit a two-run homer in his debut after coming to the Mariners from Cleveland in an offseason trade, and Jose Lopez added three RBIs for Seattle.

"It's just one game," Griffey said. "Hopefully we can put all that stuff behind us and play good baseball from here out."

On the heels of his breakout rookie season in 2008, right-hander Nick Blackburn will try to help Minnesota get back on track.

Blackburn was 11-11 with a 4.05 ERA in 33 starts, serving as a steady presence to help the Twins reach a one-game playoff with the Chicago White Sox for the AL Central crown.

He faced Seattle just once, earning the victory after giving up three runs in six innings of Minnesota's 7-3 road win on Aug. 6.

The Twins totaled 27 runs in three home wins over the Mariners last season, but their offense struggled Monday. Morneau was 0-for-4 and the team managed just one extra-base hit.

Outfielder Delmon Young will try to help in his season debut Tuesday as Twins manager Ron Gardenhire juggles five players in the outfield and designated hitter spots.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 7, 2009

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