4:05 PM ET, March 22, 2010
Peoria Sports Complex, Peoria, Arizona
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Justin Duchscherer put up a string of zeros while facing another team for the first time in 19 months. He then declared himself ready for the start of the season -- and past all of his troubles in 2009.A comical run by Ichiro Suzuki helped pave the way for the encouraging outing.Duchscherer allowed four hits over four innings to help the Oakland Athletics beat the Seattle Mariners 7-2 on Monday."I was nervous, very anxious anticipating getting out there for the first time against big league guys," he said. "It's been a while."Duchscherer missed all of last season because of elbow surgery and depression. The 32-year-old right-hander last pitched in a big league game Aug. 18, 2008.His anxiety dissipated after his fourth pitch.Suzuki singled to left on the offering, then fell on a wide turn past first base. The superstar then stopped in the baseline. A brief rundown ensued before Suzuki ran inside of second base and trailed off the field behind the shortstop for the out."Ichiro had me laughing that first at-bat. I don't know what he was doing," Duchscherer said, smiling. "That helped me, because I was a little amped up and that made me laugh and kind of relax a little. I appreciate that by him."Brett Anderson was scratched from his scheduled start because of a stiff neck, moving Duchscherer up from a planned relief outing. Anderson is scheduled to pitch in a minor league game Tuesday.Even though he only threw about 50 pitches -- he went to the bullpen for 10 pitches after he was finished -- Duchscherer said he expects to be in Oakland's rotation at the beginning of the season."As long as I'm ready to go five or six innings, I think that's kind of the plan," he said. "As the season goes, my second, third, fourth start I can progress back up to the 100, 100-pitch count range and hopefully get in seven, eight, nine innings like I feel like I'm supposed to."Manager Bob Geren said Duchscherer should be ready to start the season in the rotation if he progresses with each spring outing.Duchscherer was an All-Star in 2005 and '08 before the problems with his back, elbow and depression. He's still on an amended training schedule designed to preserve his back.Though it was just a spring outing, Duchscherer said the start allowed him to put 2009 behind him."Definitely," Duchscherer said. "What I went through last year was just a growing experience, maturity, (with the) things that I've gone through facing what I had to face. I'm thankful I went through it. At the time I was going through it, it wasn't much fun but it's helped me change my perspective."Being away from the game last year made me really appreciate how awesome it is to be able to do what I do."Ian Snell allowed six runs and seven hits in four innings for the Mariners, hiking his spring ERA to 6.92. The right-hander is one of the few healthy, experienced starters remaining behind Felix Hernandez with the beginning of the season coming up in two weeks.Coco Crisp, who had been sidelined since March 9 with a strained hamstring, hit a three-run homer in Oakland's five-run second.Snell thought he was down on most of his pitches, with a few mistakes as exceptions.His manager disagreed."He was up with most of his pitches, and most of them were not real sharp," Don Wakamatsu said.Asked if he felt he had a place in Seattle's rotation locked given injuries to Cliff Lee and Erik Bedard -- not to mention his $4.4 million salary this year -- Snell chuckled."We'll see what happens come opening day," said Snell, acquired last summer from Pittsburgh. "Whatever they decide, I can't argue with that."
|Stadium||Peoria Sports Complex, Peoria, AZ|
|Weather||75 degrees, Partly Sunny|
|Wind||4 mph, VARIABLE|
|Umpires||Home - Ron Kulpa, First Base - Manny Gonzalez, Second Base - Paul Schrieber|