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Leake likes changeup in spring start vs. KC

Mariners righty notches 4 K's, picks off runner at second
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners starter Mike Leake threw three scoreless innings in Thursday's 4-3 loss to the Royals at Peoria Stadium, but it's the little things that looked big for the 30-year-old right-hander.

Leake picked off a runner at second base to end the second inning and he made a good defensive play by snaring a hard shot up the middle to escape trouble in the third. To top it off, Leake liked the recent work done to slow down his changeup to give it more of a differential from his fastball.

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners starter Mike Leake threw three scoreless innings in Thursday's 4-3 loss to the Royals at Peoria Stadium, but it's the little things that looked big for the 30-year-old right-hander.

Leake picked off a runner at second base to end the second inning and he made a good defensive play by snaring a hard shot up the middle to escape trouble in the third. To top it off, Leake liked the recent work done to slow down his changeup to give it more of a differential from his fastball.

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"It was a good outing for me," said Leake, who has yet to allow a run in five innings over his first two starts. "It was productive. I liked the changeup today. It had some depth and was consistent down at 82 [mph]. It was more 84-85 before, a little hard. If I can get it around 80-82, I'll be happy."

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Leake was also happy to catch Royals third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert off second base after his second-inning double, firing to Robinson Cano before Cuthbert could get back. The Mariners have talked a lot about slowing opponents' running game this camp and the work paid off.

"We've stressed it this spring and it's something we need to do better," Leake said. "I enjoy when they put those plays on. It keeps us in the game and makes for quick outs if you can get them."

Cook-ing again after layoff
Ryan Cook was an American League All-Star for the A's in 2012 and one of the league's most durable relievers from 2012-14 until running into health issues. After signing with the Mariners in 2016, he missed two seasons with a lat strain, a hamstring tear, Tommy John surgery, and then a nerve issue in his elbow during that recovery.

So when Cook took the mound on Wednesday for his first inning of work as a non-roster invitee, it was a significant moment for the 30-year-old right-hander.

"It was pretty special," Cook said. "I had fun playing baseball again. Obviously there's a competition between the hitter and pitcher, but it was a bigger picture than that for me. I was really just trying to focus on making pitches and trying to have a good time being back out on the baseball field."

Cook gave up three hits and a run in his 20-pitch inning, but manager Scott Servais said Cook threw the ball well. More than anything, he came away with no issues with his arm.

"I did a lot of good things and a couple bad things. But all in all I was extremely happy with how it went," Cook said. "I came out of it feeling great. Normal soreness and normal tightness of being a pitcher. And that was actually a really cool feeling."

Injury update
• Servais reiterated that he's hopeful Felix Hernandez only misses one spring start due to his bruised right forearm as a result of getting hit by a line drive on Monday, but Servais acknowledged it's "wait and see" mode until the swelling subsides and Hernandez can start throwing again.

Video: Dipoto provides an update on Hernandez's injury

Rob Whalen will get Hernandez's scheduled start on Saturday night against the Angels. The question is how much will it impact Hernandez if he misses one or two of his remaining outings.

"He can get ramped up probably as quick as anybody," Servais said. "He has history of doing it, typically in a Spring Training, he throws 17-18 innings. Our plan this year was to maybe get 25-27 innings in spring. So he's done it before. Felix thinks he can do anything on really short notice. So his mindset is geared that way. But we have to do what's best for him and best for our team."

Erasmo Ramirez will be checked out by Mariners physician Ed Khalfayan on Monday and the club will know more then about when the right-hander can resume throwing after being shut down 12 days ago with a strained lat muscle.

• Right fielder Mitch Haniger is also waiting for clearance from a hand specialist that he's scheduled to see on Monday.

"He feels good, we're just being super cautious," said Servais, who is hopeful that Haniger and fellow outfielder Guillermo Heredia -- returning from October shoulder surgery -- can start seeing game action later next week.

• Reliever David Phelps will make his Cactus League debut on Saturday against the Angels after being brought along slowly while he returns from offseason surgery to remove an elbow bone spur.

• Reliever Nick Vincent has also been held back due to soreness in his arm, but he'll throw a bullpen Saturday and begin progressing toward game action.

Video: Dipoto impressed with Gonzales' spring debut

Up Next
Listen live on Gameday Audio as lefty Marco Gonzales is slated to throw three innings in his second outing of the spring on Friday at 12:05 p.m. PT as the Mariners face the Brewers in Cactus League action at at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix. Marc Rzepczynski, Dan Altavilla and James Pazos are among the relievers scheduled to throw behind Gonzales.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners, Ryan Cook, Marco Gonzales, Mike Leake, Erasmo Ramirez