Seattle manager Eric Wedge has settled on the first three starters in his rotation — Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Joe Saunders (no surprise there) — but the last two spots are still up for grabs, and veteran Jeremy Bonderman failed to bolster his case Tuesday. Bonderman allowed seven hits and six runs in the fifth inning as the Mariners lost to Kansas City 11-6 in Peoria.
Bonderman, attempting to return from arm and shoulder problems that have sidelined him since 2010, held the Royals to one run on three hits through four innings. But in the fifth, the Royals knocked him around, collecting three doubles and a triple.
“I was definitely tired,” Bonderman said after his longest outing of the spring. “I had some fatigue, and it wasn’t the best stuff I’ve had. It definitely wasn’t what I was hoping for. I was rolling along pretty good, and then I got smacked in the mouth.”
The Royals improved their spring record to a franchise-best 23-6-1 as catcher Brett Hayes went 4-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs.
Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Morse hit solo home runs in the seventh inning against Royals left-hander Tim Collins to continue the Mariners’ long-ball theatrics. Morse cleared the 40-foot-high batter’s eye in center field that is 410 feet from home plate. His mammoth shot was his seventh.
Gutierrez led off the seventh with a jolt to right field, his fifth . The Mariners, coming off a 16-0 win Monday, have now homered in 29 of their 30 games and lead all major league teams with their club-record 54 long balls.
The Mariners scored three times in the third inning on a two-run double by Gutierrez and a sacrifice fly by Kyle Seager, then tacked on another in the fourth on a double by Raul Ibanez and RBI single by Dustin Ackley.
Felix Hernandez, scheduled to be Seattle’s Opening Day starter, will make his final spring start Wednesday as the Mariners host the Dodgers at 1:05 p.m. at Peoria Stadium.
The game closes out the Mariners’ spring in Peoria, where a $48 million remodel of the Peoria Sports Complex will begin shortly. New clubhouses will be in place next spring and an upgraded stadium by 2015.
Erasmo Ramirez will pitch the first three innings of a minor league game Wednesday as he works his way back from some mild arm soreness that limited his work last week.
NOTES: Manager Eric Wedge said that the top three pitchers in his rotation, Hernandez, Iwakuma and Saunders, will start the first three games of the regular season, which gets underway April 1 in Oakland. The battle for the fourth and fifth spots among Brandon Maurer, Bonderman, Blake Beavan and Erasmo Ramirez, will continue through the final days of spring training. Of the four, Maurer seems to have the strongest chance of cracking the rotation. Last year’s Southern League Pitcher of the Year has a 0.90 Cactus League ERA.