Cruz homers in Mariners' win over Rangers
PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) -- Franklin Gutierrez hit his team-leading fourth home run of spring training and Nelson Cruz homered against his former club, leading the Seattle Mariners to a 7-1 win over the split-squad Texas Rangers on Friday.
The Mariners scored four runs in the second inning, highlighted by Gutierrez's homer and a run-scoring single for another former Ranger, Leonys Martin. Martin also scored twice and stole two bases.
Cruz was 1 for 18 entering Friday's game. "It was a good sign. He had good swings all day," Mariners manager Scott Servais said.
Gutierrez has shown power to center field and right-center. "Crazy," Servais said. "Some kind of strength. He's really had a nice spring."
Nathan Karns allowed a run on three hits in 4 2/3 innings, striking out seven with three walks. He's trying to win the fifth spot in the Mariners' starting rotation over lefty James Paxton, who struggled in his most recent outing on Thursday.
Karns, acquired from Tampa Bay in the offseason, admitted to not feeling comfortable early in the game and if not for the Mariners' offensive outburst, might have not pitched as long as he did.
"It's not going to do me any good sitting here and worrying about it," Karns said when asked about competing with Paxton. The two have been mutually supportive. "So I'm just going to sit here and stick to my five-day schedule and try to make it the same as last week and just keep going until they make that decision."
Ian Desmond doubled in a run for the Rangers, who sent a split squad to San Antonio for a two-game series against the Kansas City Royals on Friday and Saturday. Most of the regulars remained in Arizona.
DE FRATUS DEJA VU
The Mariners re-signed reliever Justin De Fratus to a minor league contract two days after releasing him. Seattle's bullpen is in need of bolstering with Evan Scribner and Ryan Cook injured, and De Fratus spent the past three seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, where he had a 2.39 ERA over 54 games in 2014.
MORE MARINERS MOVES
The Mariners optioned three players to Triple-A Tacoma on Friday, RHP Cody Martin, C Mike Zunino and OF Boog Powell. Zunino had been the Mariners' starting catcher for much of the past two seasons, but hit below .200 in that time and Seattle has added Chris Iannetta, Steve Clevenger and Rob Brantly at the position.
Rangers: Left-hander Victor Payano, in his first major league game of the spring, allowed three earned runs on four hits in two innings. Another Payano, Pedro (no relation), pitched later in the game for Texas.
Mariners: Karns got a partial standing ovation when he was taken out of the game after striking out the first two batters of the top of the fifth inning. He got help from a pair of double plays and a pickoff at first base. "Big double plays that really kind of got me over the hump," Karns said. "I needed my defense today and the second half (of his outing), I was able to find my rhythm and things just started clicking after that."
Rangers: 2B Rougned Odor played in his first major league game since March 6. He'd been dealing with right oblique tightness. Odor was charged with an error when he booted a hard ground ball hit to him by Seattle's Ketel Marte in the second inning. "I feel pretty good, nothing hurt, no pain, nothing," Odor said. "I feel 100 percent ready to go." . OF Shin-Soo Choo (mild back stiffness) is day to day and could play as soon as Saturday. . 1B Ike Davis has a mild right knee sprain and is day to day. . P Anthony Ranaudo was scheduled to pitch in relief Friday, but was scratched with mild back spasms.
Mariners: 1B Adam Lind was scratched from Friday's lineup due to illness. . OF-1B Stefen Romero was held out with back tightness.
Rangers: Texas has RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez lined up to face Zack Greinke and the Arizona Diamondbacks. In San Antonio, RHP A.J. Griffin makes his third start of spring training against Chien-Ming Wang and the Royals.
Mariners: RHP Taijuan Walker will pitch in Surprise, Ariz., against a Royals split squad, and also on Saturday, ace Felix Hernandez faces the Arizona Diamondbacks in Peoria.