Guess getting Benitez yesterday has given the M's second thoughts about rushing Kaz back ... this from Seattle Times ...
And Shiggy may lose some Save opps.
Thursday August 7, 2003
Notebook: Mariners plan to delay Sasaki's return
By Bob Sherwin
Seattle Times staff reporter
Kazu Sasaki is not up to speed — around 86-88 mph on his fastball. He was rocked for three runs on three hits in one inning in a rookie-league game Tuesday for Everett. He hasn't shown much of anything during his rehabilitation and recovery from broken ribs.
So the plan is to continue his rehab in the minor leagues. Sasaki, who flew from Seattle yesterday and arrived just before game time, will not be activated any time soon.
"I know he wanted to pitch here, but we want to make sure he's OK," manager Bob Melvin said.
After meeting with Melvin, Sasaki will throw in the bullpen today, throw long toss tomorrow and fly back to Seattle on Saturday. Then he will pitch for Class AAA Tacoma on Sunday.
Pitching coach Bryan Price said Sasaki's Everett effort was so-so.
"His fastball was decent, not spectacular, but he located well," Price said. "His curve and splitter were good. Sometimes a pitcher is more vulnerable in A-ball or rookie ball than here. We have to think what is best in the long term to get him back to speed."
Sasaki said despite his poor outing in Everett, "after the last pitch I was ready to pitch here."
He added that he understands the decision, saying, "they need a good result. I have to do that now. I'm ready."
Hasegawa ready to adapt
Sasaki's Japanese countryman, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, who is the current closer, said not to rush to judgment on him just yet. He said it's hard to judge a pitcher's progress based on minor-league results.
"I went down once and gave up two runs in two games — in single-A," Hasegawa said. "Then I came back and went like 10 games without giving up a run. There is no adrenaline in the minors, no fans.
"He's a veteran. I don't think he's going to have any trouble. He'll be fine."
Hasegawa said things change for a pitcher once he's on a big-league mound.
"When you're in the bullpen, you don't get 90 miles per hour," Hasegawa said. "But on the mound you get pumped up."
Hasegawa was designated as the team's closer about a month into Sasaki's two-month absence. He is 8 for 8 in save opportunities. He has been scored on in just three of 45 appearances. He is working on a 23-inning shutout string.
Melvin selected him as closer because he filled that role temporarily in 2000 for Anaheim when Troy Percival went on the disabled list. He had nine saves that season. The move also allowed the other relievers to remain in their roles.
But with the acquisition of Armando Benitez (for Jeff Nelson) yesterday, it would appear Hasegawa might return to a setup role.
"I don't know what they are going to do," he said. "I said that this season I want to win. Whatever the manager wants me to do, I'll do.
"I enjoy it (closing). It's pretty fun, but setup is fun, too."