PEORIA, Ariz. -- After six straight shaky Spring Training appearances, left-hander George Sherrill knows its time to pitch better or face the consequences -- the Mariners starting the regular season without him. "It's time to get things ironed out," Sherrill said. "It's never fun to be giving up runs, but I'll be OK." Sherrill, who led the staff in appearances with 72 last season, pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings against the Padres in the March 1 charity game, but he has surrendered at least one run in his past six outings, including a four-hit, four-run inning against the Athletics on March 12.
After allowing two runs in a Minor League game in his most recent outing, manager Mike Hargrove told reporters in Tucson, "He needs to show us something. There is a certain amount of grace time you give people who have been in the big leagues and been important to your club. But there comes a time when they need to step up. "Now would be a good time to step up." Sherrill said he wasn't aware of his manager's remarks, but he has been busy studying video the past few days to correct a mechanical flaw -- not breaking his hands soon enough at the top of his delivery. As a result, his body is ahead of his arm, and that causes his location to be erratic. "It's a minor adjustment," Sherrill said, "but it's time to get everything ironed out so I can be sharp at the start of the season." A rocky camp is nothing new to Sherrill. "I've never had a good spring, and I'm not worried about it," he said. Sherrill appeared in five Cactus League games last season and posted a 16.50 ERA (11 earned runs in six innings) and surrendered four home runs. He still landed a spot in the bullpen and held opponents to two earned runs in 13 April appearances.
All wet: For the first time this spring, Mother Nature interfered with the Mariners' work schedule.The practice fields used for the morning workouts were saturated on Friday following heavy rain on Thursday, forcing camp coordinators Mike Goff and John McLaren to make some adjustments. "All the hitting today will be done in the [covered] cages," Goff said. The weather has been unseasonably warm and dry this year, even by desert standards. "I've been here since this complex opened [in 1993], and I can't remember not having a few rainy days that would cause some kind of schedule adjustment," Goff said. "I thought we were going to get some rain the first couple of days when the pitchers and catchers reported, but it never did. "It has been a good spring, a very good spring from that aspect. It's good for players, staff and everyone to have a program you can stick with every day. We've been fortunate." J.J. tests elbow: Right-handed closer J.J. Putz, sidelined since March 5 with an elbow ailment, threw 25 pitches during a promising bullpen session on Friday and will throw another one on Sunday. If all goes well, he will pitch one inning in a Minor League game next Tuesday and another inning against the Cubs in one of the two games in Las Vegas. "I watched it, and you could hear the ball come off his fingers," Hargrove said of the BP session. "You don't see that with an unhealthy arm." Hargrove said he fully expects his closer to be ready for the regular-season opener on April 2 against the Athletics at Safeco Field. Time change: The Mariners' Cactus League game against the Rangers in Surprise on Monday night, originally scheduled to start at 7:05 PT, has been moved up to 6:05. The clash between American League West rivals will be broadcasted on MLB.TV. This 'n that: The Mariners drew a spring-high 12,204 fans for Friday's game, strengthening their hold on second place in Cactus League attendance. The Mariners have drawn 94,27 fans to their first 12 home games and among Cactus League teams, only the Cubs have drawn more -- 113,897. The Angels are third at 81,033. ... Outfielder Tony Torcato, hobbled by a sprained ankle, was sent to the Minor League camp. ... With 24 hits this spring, utility infielder/outfielder Willie Bloomquist is 11 hits shy of the club record held by Carlos Guillen, who had 35 hits in 1999. ... Former Mariners great Edgar Martinez returned to camp on Friday for a three-day visit. He arrived on Thursday night during a heavy rainstorm, which made him feel right at home. He flew in from Seattle. ... Four Minor League players were released on Friday -- right-hander Ari Kafka, infielder Marcos Villezcas, right-hander Haley Winter and outfielder Jason Grove. ... Ben Broussard put six of his broken bats in a cardboard box and presented each one to fans outside the Mariners clubhouse. He autographed all six. Up next: The Mariners remain at home on Saturday to face the visiting Royals in a 1:05 p.m. game. Left-hander Jarrod Washburn makes his sixth start of the spring, but much of the focus will be on Sherrill, who has an 18.00 ERA after six spring outings. He is scheduled to follow Washburn and pitch one inning.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.