8/31/2014

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Despite homers, Mariners fall to White Sox 11-7

Despite homers, Mariners fall to White Sox 11-7
Seattle Mariners' Justin Smoak
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PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) - When Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge filled out a lineup card with Michael Morse starting at first base, he promised it wasn't part of a roster overhaul.

"We just want to be as versatile as we can," Wedge said.

Morse, who figures to be Seattle's starting left fielder, didn't seem to mind the position change Sunday. He hit his third home run of the spring, though Seattle lost 11-7 to a split squad of Chicago White Sox.

When asked how many games he expected Morse to play at first base, Wedge said he did not have a specific number in mind.

"I just want it to be an option for us," he said. "Obviously Justin Smoak is having a real good spring."

Smoak, the expected opening day starter at first, is playing well. The 26-year-old is batting .360 with two home runs, three doubles and six RBIs. Kendrys Morales, who will be Seattle's primary designated hitter, will back up Smoak at first base.

Morse has experience at first base. He didn't start a game there last season, but in 2011 he started 82 games for the Washington Nationals.

"With Morse, we've been playing him in left field, right field and he's very comfortable at first base, too," Wedge said. "We just want to be as versatile as we can. He's comfortable regardless where he plays. We just want to make sure his bat's in the lineup."

Morse's solo shot came off White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod and marked the only hit and run allowed by the right-hander.

Axelrod, who pitched in 14 games last season and started seven, is vying for a spot in the bullpen. He threw three innings and earned the win.

In three spring appearances totaling eight innings, Axelrod has given up one earned run on three hits, while walking none and fanning seven.

Dayan Viciedo went 3-for-3 with a double, RBI and scored two runs for Chicago. Brent Morel had two hits, including a home run.

Viciedo and second baseman Gordon Beckham, who hit a solo homer off Charlie Furbush in the sixth, were the only expected opening day starters that played against Seattle.

Viciedo was part of a five-run first inning that was punctuated by designated hitter Stefan Gartrell's grand slam. The non-roster invite connected on a sinker from Andrew Carraway, who was making his first start in spring training.

Carraway, a 26-year-old who split last season between Double-A and Triple-A, said he felt nervous before the game.

"Definitely a little bit of butterflies before the start," the right-hander said. "My first major league-type outing."

NOTES: Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen threw a scoreless fifth inning and allowed one hit, a walk and struck out one. He has not allowed a run in four spring training innings. ... Mariners OFs Jason Bay and Carlos Peguero each hit triples off Scott Snodgress in the fourth. ... Seattle next plays Tuesday against Arizona when ace Felix Hernandez will have his second start of the spring.
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