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Notes: Guillen to take it slow for now

Notes: Guillen to take it slow for now

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Apparently, Mike Hargrove just does not trust newcomer Jose Guillen.

This is partly why Guillen -- who figures to be the Mariners' Opening Day starter in right field -- will serve as the team's designated hitter for the first 10-14 days of exhibition play instead of patrolling right field.

Hargrove said he doesn't think that Guillen -- who had Tommy John elbow ligament replacemenent surgery a year ago -- is the type of player who would be cautious when, say, it came to trying to throw a runner out at the plate instead of easing up on his surgically-repaired right elbow.

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"I think we're still looking at probably 10 days to two weeks into Spring Training ... he said his arm feels fine and he's throwing fine," Hargrove said. "Maybe sooner than that, but that's a good rule of thumb."

While the rest of the Mariners' position players aren't due to report until Monday, with the first full-squad workout set for Tuesday, Guillen has been doing plenty of hitting in camp this week.

"He's swinging the bat well," Hargrove said. "He was talking about how much easier it is to go the opposite way this early because he has less restrictions after the surgery. ... It's kind of scary. The ball sounds different coming off his bat than it does a lot of guys. He has a lot of strength. He uses the whole field. When he's going good, that's what he does."

It appears that Guillen will have some company on the bench during early exhibition play -- second baseman Jose Lopez will be brought along slowly from the right ankle that he sprained in winter ball in Venezuela. Lopez could well miss the first week of games, if not more.

One positive: Lopez doesn't have a limp and says he feels fine. He's spent his days inside the Peoria Sports Complex lifting weights and getting treatment on his ankle.

All of this means that Jeremy Reed -- who is trying to win a job as the fourth outfielder -- could see more time early in Guillen's absence. As for replacing Lopez, the Mariners could use any number of players at second base, with Willie Bloomquist and Oswaldo Navarro being front-runners.

Sweet stroke: Hargrove said he has been impressed with catcher Jeff Clement's swing early in camp, though the manager had similar nice things to say about the third overall pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.

But there's at least one difference that Hargrove has seen in Clement's left-handed swing.

"We saw him last year, and he was a young kid trying to impress people," Hargrove said. "He tried to hit everything in batting practice a quarter-mile ... and sometimes he did. He had a good day [Friday]. That was really the first time I've seen him swing the bat the way I've heard he can swing it. He kept the ball on the line."

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That was partly the work of Mariners hitting coach Jeff Pentland, who spent a few days in Hawaii this winter working with Clement when he was playing winter ball there. Clement said he feels like he's a lot quicker to the ball.

"This kid has a chance to be a real special hitter," Hargrove said. "He's got more going for him than just the hitting part."

Injury watch: A day after pitcher Jesse Foppert suffered a mild strain of his right hamstring, righty Sean Green's day was cut short when he was sidelined by a cramp in his left hamstring.

"We pulled him out of the workout," Hargrove said of Green. "[Just] to be on the safe side."

It's not known how much time, if any, Green will miss. He's in the mix for the few bullpen jobs up for grabs this spring.

Last season, Green had a 4.50 ERA in 24 games with Seattle. Green missed nearly two months of the 2006 season after suffering back spasms following a shower at Safeco Field.

Mariners log: Former Mariner Rafael Soriano -- who was traded to Atlanta in December for Horacio Ramirez -- is having visa problems in the Dominican Republic and won't likely report to the Braves' camp in Florida until next week. ... Greg Dobbs, claimed off waivers last month by the Phillies, is in the hunt for what is expected to be two opens spots on the bench. Dobbs was Seattle's best pinch-hitter in 2006, hitting .370 in 27 at-bats. ... Shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt arrived in Peoria on Saturday. ... Hargrove is having trouble pronouncing newcomer Horacio Ramirez's first name, so he has taken to looking for a nickname for the left-handed starter. "Horacio is too hard to say," he said. "We've got to come up with a different name." ... Seattle's pitchers threw "all their pitches" during their bullpen sessions on Saturday, Hargrove said. And other than sore legs, everyone looked good, he said. The evaluation period for pitchers won't begin in earnest until exhibition games begin, likely after their second outing. "That's when you start tying to form more concrete opinions," Hargrove said.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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