Friday, April 8, 2016

Walker seeks redemption vs. A's in home opener

After taking two of three from the defending American League West champion Rangers, the Mariners open their home season at Safeco Field on Friday night against the A's with young right-hander Taijuan Walker on the hill. And first-year manager Scott Servais is eager to unveil his new-look squad for fans in the Pacific Northwest.
"I'm really excited," Servais said. "We obviously get to play 81 games there, and it's a great city, great fan base. I know the city is excited. We've had a lot of change. There's a lot of good vibe around our club, and rightly so. I think they're going to like watching us play."
Thirteen of the Mariners on Seattle's 25-man roster are new this year, and just seven of that group were with the team for last year's Opening Day game at Safeco Field -- outfielders Nelson Cruz and Seth Smith, third baseman Kyle Seager, second baseman Robinson Cano and pitchers Hisashi Iwakuma, Felix Hernandez and Walker.
Oakland left-hander Eric Surkamp will face Walker in Friday's 7:10 p.m. PT game, as expected starter Felix Doubront was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a strained left elbow.
"I'm excited. Any chance I get up here is exciting," Surkamp said. "It's a little different this year. I've been with the guys all through spring and I feel comfortable. Last year, I was traded and brought up for one start. I'm going to pitch my game and see where it goes."
Walker is eager to get his second full season in Seattle's rotation underway. He finished strong last year, but got off to a rocky start that included a 12-0 loss in his debut at Oakland when he gave up nine runs in 3 1/3 innings.
"I remember," Walker said. "I definitely want to go out there and have a good outing against them, because last year they got me pretty good. So I guess it's a little payback this time."
Walker is 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA in four career games against the A's, with two of those appearances coming out of the bullpen. He's faced Oakland just once at Safeco Field, taking a no-decision last May 8 in a 4-3 Mariners win when he allowed five hits and three runs with six strikeouts in five frames.
Things to know
• Ken Griffey Jr. will throw out the ceremonial first pitch in pregame ceremonies that will begin at 6:30 p.m. PT. The ceremonies will also include a moment of silence for former Mariners outfielder Dave Henderson, who died on Dec. 27. Gates will open at 4:40 p.m.
• A's manager Bob Melvin reaffirmed that Sean Doolittle is his closer, even though Ryan Madson got the save Wednesday night. "We've got three guys who have closed," he said. "We sat down and discussed roles. That doesn't mean we won't make adjustments."
• After homering four times in Seattle's first three games, Cano will have a chance to make some history as only four players have ever homered in the first four games of their team's season -- Willie Mays in 1971, Mark McGwire in '98, Nelson Cruz in 2011 and Chris Davis in '13.

No comments: