Marco on the mark in spring debut with Mariners

Gonzales strikes out four Dodgers over two hitless innings

February 25th, 2018

PEORIA, Ariz. -- For , it was the perfect first step on the road to showing he belongs in the Mariners' rotation.

The 26-year-old southpaw threw two scoreless innings against the defending National League-champion Dodgers, allowing no hits with just one walk and four strikeouts in a sharp outing that set the tone for the Mariners' 2-0 Cactus League victory Sunday at Peoria Stadium.

Gonzales went 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 10 games (seven starts) after being acquired from the Cardinals last July, but the Mariners believe he can be much improved now that he's a second year removed from Tommy John surgery. They would love to see him grab the fifth rotation spot this spring.

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Asked if people have seen the real Gonzales yet, the former first-round Draft pick out of Gonzaga just smiled.

"I don't know if I've seen the real me yet," he said. "I've been hindered the past couple years and haven't been able to figure out what my potential is. I'm exploring, just like other people are trying to get to know me. Having a new elbow is something I'm excited about, because I haven't had the chance to learn and develop at this level and be healthy at the same time. So I'm excited for what I can do."

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Gonzales faced most of the Dodgers' normal lineup, striking out and around a groundout in the first, then mowing down and to end the second after a leadoff walk to Matt Kemp.

"You get out there and see [Clayton] Kershaw warming up on the other line, it's hard not to get super fired up," he said. "I was pumped. My body felt good, my arm feels great. I'm just trying to stay right there, just trying to maintain that."

Cruz plunked in first at-bat

Seeing your All-Star DH go down in a heap after taking a fastball off his left wrist in his first Cactus League plate appearance isn't ideal, but survived that scare from Dodgers reliever Tom Koehler and said he was fine afterward.

"Obviously you don't want to see anybody go down on their first at-bat of the spring," manager Scott Servais said. "He should be OK. He took it off his forearm and luckily not off his hand. Nelson is a pretty tough guy. He'll be all right."

The Mariners have been hit by pitches six times through three spring games.

Servais impressed by Whalen turnaround

The Mariners manager loved what he saw from relievers and , who fired scoreless frames in the third and fourth innings. But Servais was most effusive when it came to , the right-hander who left Triple-A Tacoma's club last July due to dealing with depression and anxiety amid a rough season.

The 23-year-old threw two scoreless innings with one hit, one walk and three strikeouts, coming back from a 3-0 deficit to strike out Seager and strand two runners in the fifth.

"I'm really happy for Rob Whalen," Servais said. "Of all the players I've seen over time, for him to kind of reinvent. ... He cleaned up his personal life and totally revamped everything. He looks like a different guy. That's the best stuff I've ever seen him have. The composure on the mound, the confidence, it says a lot from where he was to where he's at now."

Worth noting

X-rays on 's right foot showed no broken bones, but the first baseman is expected to miss at least three or four days with a bruise from a hit by pitch Friday.

Ben Gamel provided the offensive highlight Sunday, ripping a triple to the right-field gap and scoring on a wild pitch in the third.

Up next

makes his spring debut in Monday's 12:05 p.m. PT game against the Cubs in Mesa (listen live on Gameday Audio). The Mariners' longtime ace is slated for two innings, with , , , and slated for relief.