SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Roenis Elias impressed again in his improbable quest for a spot in Seattle’s rotation, throwing 5 1-3 strong innings for the Mariners in a 4-3 loss Saturday to the Colorado Rockies in a game between split squads.
The 25-year-old Cuban defector was a non-roster invitee. He’s pitched in only 59 games, nothing above Double-A. But injuries have created holes for Seattle, and Elias has shined.
“He certainly has made a statement for himself,” said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon, who indicated Elias will make one more start before they break camp.
Speaking through an interpreter, Elias said Seattle second baseman Robinson Cano has helped him adjust to pitching to major leaguers.
“I’ve learned a lot,” Elias said. “He’s watching at second base.”
Wilin Rosario’s two-run home run in the fourth was the lone blemish for Elias, who allowed four hits and struck out four. His spring ERA is 2.04.
Brett Anderson labored through six innings for Colorado, giving up 12 hits but only three runs — including Justin Smoak’s solo homer.
“It was probably the worst put-away breaking ball I’ve had in God knows how long,” Anderson said. “But the good part about it was in those situations, I was able to get out of it for the most part and I ended up having a quality start.
“Anytime you give up 12 hits and have tons of baserunners and get out of it with a quality start, I guess I’ll take it.”
Cano went 0 for 4, lowering his average to .500.
The Rockies won it on Jason Pridie’s RBI double off Charlie Furbush in the bottom of the ninth.
Mariners: Colorado manager Walt Weiss was impressed with Elias.
“First inning, I looked over at one of the coaches and said, ‘This guy has a good arm,'” Weiss said. “He kind of slings it. There’s some finish to his pitches. He’s a good-looking kid.”
Rockies: Weiss said Anderson’s scrappy performance reminded him of an old teammate.
“I saw Tommy Glavine do that first-hand for three years,” he said. “You think you have him in trouble a few different times and you look up and it’s seven innings and you have two runs. That’s what he reminded me of. It’s just an affirmation that this guy knows how to pitch.”
Mariners: Two pitchers made their spring debuts in a minor league game Saturday following shoulder issues.
Taijuan Walker allowed one run and two hits in one inning. Stephen Pryor followed and threw a perfect second inning.
“Very encouraging,” McClendon said.
Rockies: Starting third baseman Nolan Arenado was hit on the left hand in Colorado’s split-squad game at Cleveland. A precautionary X-ray was negative.
For just the second time in 13 games, Cano failed to get a hit. His 0-for-4 day included a couple of well-hit balls to the outfield. He was replaced in the sixth.
MILLER STILL SIZZLES
Brad Miller remained hot for the Mariners, going 2 for 4 with two doubles off Anderson, giving him 12 extra-base hits.
Miller is competing with Nick Franklin for the starting shortstop job.
The Rockies optioned right-hander Rob Scahill to the minors after the game. Non-roster invitees Brooks Brown, Greg Burke, Matt McBride, Ben Paulsen and Rafael Ynoa were also sent down.
Asked if he stayed up late or got up early to watch the season opener Saturday, Matt Belisle had a puzzled look.
The Rockies reliever didn’t know the Dodgers and Diamondbacks played overnight.
“Are you sure it counted?” he asked of Los Angeles’ 3-1 win.
Belisle said there should be exhibition games overseas, but not regular-season games.
“I think the opener should be on U.S. soil, no matter what,” he said.
BY MIKE CRANSTON, Associated Press
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