PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) - The Seattle Mariners wanted to add power and production to this season's lineup, importing veteran hitters while also moving in fences at spacious Safeco Field.
While Cactus League stats shouldn't be taken too seriously, the Mariners' beefed-up offense is hitting home runs at a rapid rate. Jason Bay, Michael Morse, Michael Saunders and Carlos Peguero connected Friday in an 8-6 win over the Texas Rangers.
The Mariners lead the majors in homers this spring. They have connected for 18 in eight games - and won seven in a row.
Mitch Moreland hit a two-run homer for the Rangers, but they couldn't keep up with the Mariners.
After acquiring Morse and Kendrys Morales in trade sand signing Raul Ibanez and Bay, Seattle hopes these offensive outbursts are a sign of good things to come.
``We had a hole that we tried to fill in the offseason,' Saunders said. ``In terms of pitching, defense and running the bases, I thought we were among the best around. Our issue was offense.
``By getting quality bats that you can stick in the middle of the lineup, it takes some pressure off the younger guys and allows them to progress without tremendous pressure. That's generated some excitement for Mariners baseball,' he said.
The Mariners have won seven straight spring training games for the first time since 1998. But the time of year can temper long-term optimism. Questions remain about whether this revamped offense will produce in the regular season, especially in a competitive AL West.
The Los Angeles Angels spent big money on new talent and the Rangers and Oakland Athletics made last year's postseason.
``We're out here to get ready for the season, but we're also out here to compete,' Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. ``If you're going to play, you might as well win. I like what's happening in these games. We have a lot of guys with great ability, and it's starting to manifest itself.'
The Rangers have scuffled to a 1-6-1 record while experimenting with lineups and nursing several injuries, including calf strains to Lance Berkman and Adrian Beltre that aren't considered serious.
Outfielder Nelson Cruz had chest pains Friday and underwent tests at a local hospital that showed a muscle strain. He's expected to resume baseball activity as early as Saturday.
Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus doubled and walked in his return to the lineup after a bizarre setback. He was scratched the previous day with what the team called ``sensitivity in his left arm' - apparently caused by an elaborate tattoo.
Andrus will now join Team Venezuela for the World Baseball Classic.
The Mariners roughed up Cory Burns and Neal Cotts. Neither are serious contenders for the 25-man roster.
NOTES: Berkman is expected to play on Saturday. Beltre (calf) increased his baseball activity Friday, but the Rangers haven't set a date when he'll play. ... The Mariners' Hisashi Iwakuma is scheduled to start Saturday's home game against the Dodgers. Non-roster invitee Jeremy Bonderman will pitch after that.
The Associated Press News Service
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