GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jon Garland’s bid for the Seattle Mariners’ starting rotation is getting more serious.
Garland, who missed last season following shoulder surgery, turned in a strong three-inning stint against the Dodgers on Saturday in Seattle’s 3-2 loss.
Garland gave up one run on two hits and a walk, but most importantly his arm keeps feeling better. Garland has won 132 major-league games and until his injury in 2011 had pitched 190 or more innings in 10 consecutive seasons.
“I can definitely tell the arm’s getting stronger,” Garland said after his third stint of the spring. “In between innings, nothing’s tightening up. Good signs all around.”
Garland said he feels tightness the day after starts, but nothing much different than he experienced in his prime. What’s different is that at age 33, he is battling for a job for the first time in a decade.
“It’s a lot different,” he said. “In the back of your mind, you know you’re fighting for a spot. You’re trying to make the team, so you’re going out there with every intention of trying to put up as many zeroes and make as many pitches as you can.
“At the same time, you still want to try to work on some pitches and maybe throw a pitch in certain counts you normally wouldn’t do. It’s a little weird, but it’s good. It’s good to get the juices flowing and back in the swing of things.”
So far, so good. Garland has given up just one earned runs in six innings, and manager Eric Wedge said he is not regarding him as a player coming back from an injury.
“We’re looking at him as a guy competing to make our club,” he said. “He’s been very impressive. Today was his best day, and he continues to push forward.”
What a roller coaster two days for infielder Stefen Romero. On Thursday, he had two homers, including a grand slam, and drove in seven runs against the Royals. And Friday, in his first at-bat in a game eventually rained out, he strained his left oblique while making a swing against the A’s.
“It’s so surreal,” he said. “You’re going from cloud nine to just the bottom.”
Romero has been told to rest the injury, and it doesn’t appear he’ll be playing any time soon.
“I’ll take it week by week, see how it feels,” he said. “You don’t want to rush these things, because it’s so vital, especially in a baseball player. It’s a muscle you use constantly as a baseball player. You want to rest it. If it happens again, you’re back at ground zero. Just rest.”
Wedge said he had a good talk with Romero on Saturday to try to boost his spirits.
“It’s tough for a young man to have to go through something like that, but we’ve all had to do it,” he said. “I told him it’s just a bump in the road.”
• Back in Peoria, the Mariners won a six-inning B-game against the Padres, 6-3, with Jason Bay hitting a three-run homer in the first, and Jesus Montero getting a rare triple. It came on a drive off the wall in right-center that bounded away from the fielders.
The triple gave Montero a chance to display the running form he worked to improve over the winter.
• Joe Saunders worked 2-2/3 innings, giving up four hits, three runs (two earned) with no walks or strikeouts in the B game.
• The Mariners didn’t hit any homers for the first time this spring, against the Dodgers.
• Jamie Moyer will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Mariners’ home opener April 8.