The Seattle Mariners were hoping that left-hander Joe Saunders would shake off a rather poor spring when he made his team debut on Wednesday against the Oakland Athletics. However, Saunders did nothing to ease the nerves of fans and the front office, allowing four earned runs off of seven hits, with four walks in four innings pitched.
It was obvious that Saunders did not have his best stuff, as manager Eric Wedge pointed out, “He just didn’t have the command with his secondary stuff that he typically has,’’ the manager told Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times.
Saunders’ main complaint was that the baseball was slippery and difficult to grip. “It was hard,’’ Saunders told Baker. “It felt like the balls had some funny stuff on them. Not to make excuses, you’ve got to make adjustments. It just felt like some of them were taking off.”
In the MLB, pitchers use the same baseball and it did not seem like A’s pitcher Tommy Milone had any sort of problem with a “slippery ball”, allowing only five base-runners in seven innings pitched.
Saunders does not have an overpowering fastball, averaging less than 89 miles per hour in 2012, so he needs to be able to control his pitches in order to be successful.
Saunders needs to get a grip on whatever it is that is wrong with him, as he is going to be a vital part of the Mariners’ pitching rotation for the 2013 season. I don’t think anybody believes the “slippery ball’’ thing, so next time you have a bad outing, Joe, try to come up with a better excuse.