There are a couple of things the newest Mariners staff leader in victories wants to make perfectly clear. Yes, No. 3 starting pitcher Carlos...
ANAHEIM, Calif. — There are a couple of things the newest Mariners staff leader in victories wants to make perfectly clear.
Yes, No. 3 starting pitcher Carlos Silva would like to be thought of in high regard just like front-line hurlers Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard. And no, the pitch he is trying to use to get left-handed hitters out is actually not a split-fingered fastball.
News reports out of Minnesota last year, when Silva was still pitching for the Twins, said he was tinkering with a splitter to use against lefties who kept teeing off on him. But Silva said Friday that while the pitch may look like a splitter, it’s actually just a changeup that breaks away from lefty bats.
“A lot of people ask me if it’s a splitter because of the way the ball goes,” said Silva, who improved to 3-0 with a 2.79 earned-run average in beating the Oakland Athletics the previous night. “I grab my changeup the same way I grab my sinker, and it tends to cause the ball to go in a similar direction — down and away.”
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Silva has not had great results against lefties so far, though he did far better on Thursday, holding Oakland lefties to a pair of singles over a dozen at-bats. Overall this season, lefties have put up an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of .819 against Silva, compared with just .599 by righties.
Silva said he’s made it a point to add the changeup to his repertoire to try to better himself. He knows folks were questioning his four-year, $48 million contract over the winter, and he wants to be thought of as something other than a mid-level, .500 pitcher who relies exclusively on his sinker and fielders.
“Everyone says I have one pitch,” he said. “But I don’t think the same way as them because my career is not over. There is always time to change, to get better. This year, I’ve added the changeup. Maybe next year, I work on something else.”
Silva and fellow Venezuelan hurler Hernandez are never too far apart. Silva charted Hernandez’s pitches while watching the game on a clubhouse television set on Wednesday night.
“It’s amazing watching on TV when he pitches,” Silva said. “Sometimes, he looks like he’s playing Nintendo the way he pitches against the other guys.”
Hernandez and Silva sat together on the flight over here and talked about the importance of being able to change.
“I told him how important it was to never stop working,” Silva said. “To never stop trying to be better than you are. We talked about how last year, he was overusing his breaking ball. This year, he’s doing a better job of using his other pitches. That’s how it goes.”
Silva realizes it will take a lot more than four starts to get folks thinking about him in the same light as Hernandez, or even the injured Bedard. But the goal of being “one of those guys” is foremost on his mind.
“The hitters know I’m going to be throwing strikes,” he said. “But I trust my stuff. As long as I’m making quality pitches, the way I can, I know they’re not going to hit it hard.”
• Brad Wilkerson was scratched for the second night in a row as Willie Bloomquist was given another start in right field against a left-handed pitcher. Wilkerson is hitting just .135 on the season, including the current 0-for-6 stretch.
Mariners manager John McLaren said he wanted to keep Bloomquist active against lefties while Wilkerson tries to gather himself after the tough start. Wilkerson traditionally does better against left-handers than he does righties.
But left-handed hitters can also have a tougher time seeing the ball when facing another lefty. At this rate, the Mariners don’t want things any tougher on Wilkerson while he’s trying to get his swing going.
“At this point, a lot of it’s mental,” Wilkerson said on Thursday. “I’ve been trying to take pitches and put myself in a good count where I’ll get something good to hit. And I’ve been doing that. I am putting myself in good hitters’ counts. The problem is, after that I’ll start swinging at bad pitches instead of laying off them.
“So, in effect, I’m undoing all the good I did to get into that count. It’s something I’m working on and it’s going well. It’s just a matter of carrying that over to the field.”
• Richie Sexson was back in the lineup on Friday, one day after sitting out the series finale in Oakland with a sore shoulder and leg. His status had been uncertain going into the day, but he felt well enough to play and proved it by hitting his third home run of the season off Joe Saunders in the second inning, plus a three-run homer in the seventh.
• Injured Mariners pitchers J.J. Putz and Bedard are to throw off a mound today. Putz is to throw a simulated game and could be activated off the disabled list as early as Tuesday. Bedard is to throw a bullpen session while the team remains tight-lipped about the cause of the hip inflammation that landed him on the DL this week.
McLaren said he didn’t know the exact nature of the injury, other than the fact there’s inflammation involved. But he said, as far as he knows, Bedard had the same injury eight years ago and is feeling better every day.
• Los Angeles Angels center fielder Torii Hunter was smiling and joking during batting practice Friday night. He wasn’t grinning a few hours earlier, when his new car was rear-ended at a stop light near the ballpark.
“My Bentley!” he shrieked in mock horror while talking to reporters. “I tried to treat myself a couple of weeks ago, and look what happened. I think somebody was trying to tell me something — that car’s not that important.”
No one in either vehicle was seriously injured.
“The good news is that it didn’t happen on the freeway, so it could have been a lot worse. I’m pretty excited about that. So all in all, my day is good. Once I came in and the guys found out I was OK, then I got all the jokes.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
For the record
vs. AL West: 6-3
vs. L.A.: 2-2
vs. Oakland: 2-0
vs. Texas: 2-1
vs. AL East: 2-5
vs. AL Central: 1-1
vs. NL: 0-0
vs. LHP: 2-3
vs. RHP: 7-6
Extra innings: 0-0