Notes: Morrow continues to impress

Notes: Righty Morrow continues to impress

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Let's play: "Name the pitcher."

"It's almost unfair that a guy can throw that hard and then get a batter to go flailing in the dirt," said one American League scout.

Closer J.J. Putz?

He's a very good guess, but incorrect.

Brandon Morrow, drafted fifth overall in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, is expected to begin the season in the starting rotation at high Class A. However, he continues to make a strong statement that he should appear in the Major Leagues sooner rather than later after striking out two in 1 1/3 scoreless innings on Monday against the Diamondbacks.

The 22-year-old right-hander has been mixing his upper-90-mph fastball with a slider and sharp split-finger pitch. He'll also throw a changeup. He has the repertoire you look for in a starting pitcher, though that may not be his short-term role.

Morrow has not been touched for a run in 6 1/3 innings this spring, allowing just four baserunners and striking out eight in impressive fashion.

"I'd say that with every good outing, my confidence goes up," said Morrow, "and my comfort level goes up."

With every outing perhaps the likelihood he could open up the season in the Mariners 'pen goes up as well.

"They haven't really said much about it," said Morrow. "I think no one wants to get my hopes up. We'll see how it goes. All I have heard is 'Be Ready.'"

If it were just about who has performed the best in camp, there would be no question. Thus far, Morrow has clearly pitched the best of any reliever, but when you're talking about a pitcher with just eight professional games under his belt, you want to be careful about his development.

Then again, it only took Mark Lowe three months to jump from high-A ball to the Majors last season, where he was dominant in fifteen games before getting hurt.

"He hasn't done anything to hurt himself," manager Mike Hargrove said of Morrow. When asked if the youngster has made a strong case for being in the bullpen, the manager responded simply: "He's done what you've said."

In midseason form: When you've started off well in Spring Training, all you're looking to do the last couple of weeks is not get off track, especially when you don't like the month-long process of camp to begin with.

Jarrod Washburn stayed on course on Monday afternoon, allowing just one run over 4 2/3 innings before hitting his pitch count, displaying a good changeup in the process.

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"I felt like I was ready for the season a month ago," said Washburn. "I'm not a big fan of Spring Training. I like games that matter."

Washburn has allowed just three runs in almost fifteen innings of work this spring for a nifty 1.98 ERA, and walked his first two batters of camp on Monday. He has struck out eleven.

Bullpen issues: A bullpen that is already dealing with an injury to Putz has another injury issue. Lefty Arthur Rhodes was scratched from his scheduled inning on Monday after Hargrove mentioned, "his elbow is a little tight."

The good news is that, for now, the veteran is just being pushed back a day and is expected to throw on Tuesday. He has yet to allow a run this spring, cementing himself as a key eighth-inning option if his 37-year-old arm remains sound.

George Sherrill had another rough outing on Monday, allowing a three-run homer in his inning of work. He has allowed at least a run in his last five outings and ten runs overall.

Quick hits: Richie Sexson, who was just 2-for-30 this spring entering the game, had two hits. ... Lefty Ryan Feierabend, who had put himself in consideration to make the team by not allowing an earned run over seven innings this spring, was roughed up as the starter of the other split-squad game on Monday. He allowed eight runs, including three homers, in two innings against the Cubs at Mesa. Adrian Beltre hit a three-run homer in that game, his second of the spring. ... Raul Ibanez continued his hot streak with two more hits. He is hitting .387 with 10 RBIs this spring ... Willie Bloomquist had another hit in the Mesa game, and has recorded one in nine of his last ten games.

Up next: The Mariners take a two-hour ride down to Tucson to face the Diamondbacks again on Tuesday at Tucson Electric Park. Jeff Weaver will take the mound for the Mariners. Eric O'Flaherty and Jon Huber -- both competing for one of the remaining spots in the bullpen -- are also scheduled to throw, and we will see if Rhodes' elbow will enable him to throw his scheduled inning.

Jason Grey is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.