SEA@CIN: Montero sets spring record with grand slam

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Getting six RBIs in a game can give some guys a big head, but Jesus Montero was already feeling a little swollen in the noggin' when he racked up a grand slam and three hits in Monday's 16-0 victory over the Reds.

The Mariners catcher was hit in the forehead by a bat on a backswing by Francisco Lindor of the Indians on Saturday, the blow raising an egg-sized welt and leaving him down on the ground for several minutes before being carted off to the trainer's room.

Montero said he could still feel his forehead pulsing inside his batting helmet Monday when he came to the plate, but he singled in his first two at-bats, drew a bases-loaded walk and then unloaded a towering grand slam in the fifth.

Manager Eric Wedge credited Montero for having the patience to draw the bases-loaded walk, something the youngster might not have shown a year earlier. But it turns out the 23-year-old was patient for a reason.

"I wasn't thinking I have to get on base. I was thinking about my head," Montero said. "The thing was like, 'Boom, boom, boom.' Then I walked and hit a homer. I guess I have to do that all the time.

"I put my hand up there and I could feel pressure. I still feel it. But I was like, 'You know what? You're playing. Have fun.'"

Montero has been having more fun all spring in his second go-round with the Mariners, hitting .405 with two home runs, six doubles and 10 RBIs in 13 games. He seems to have connected with new hitting coach Dave Hansen, who is having an impact on many of the young hitters.

"We kind of just let him go last year and tried to get an understanding of where he was at and get a feel for him with the way he practices and plays," Wedge said. "This year we're able to do a lot more with him, and Dave Hansen has done a nice job. They've had a nice relationship there. He's more under control in batting practice and has a better mindset with what he's trying to do, a better focus with his work, and I think you're seeing that leak into the games."

Montero said Hansen has been preaching patience, waiting for the right pitch, and that he has found a willing pupil.

"It's been good. He's a good guy," Montero said. "I know last year we had [Chris] Chambliss, but everybody is different. This is a new era. This guy is awesome. He can tell you a little of everything and help you. I like him a lot."

After rough outing, Bonderman must wait and see

Wedge likes mix of veterans, young players

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Jeremy Bonderman's final audition for a starting spot to open the season with the Mariners hit a snag Tuesday as the veteran right-hander got rocked in the fifth inning in an 11-6 loss to the Royals.

Bonderman gave up seven hits and six runs in his one rough inning as fatigue set in during the longest stint of his first Spring Training since 2010 with the Tigers. With the Mariners down to the final days of their decision-making process, the 30-year-old admitted it was a bad time to struggle.

"It sucked. There's nothing else to really say about it," Bonderman said. "I was throwing the ball well, and then I just gave up some hits and it extended the inning. As the inning went on, the ball stayed up a little more, and I got in trouble."

Bonderman said he was happy with the first four innings, but "the fifth just unraveled a little on me. It isn't the first time it's ever happened, but it was definitely the wrong day to have it happen."

The Mariners sent Bonderman back out to face two batters in the sixth, finally replacing him after his low-90s fastball had dropped to 84-85 mph. He gave up 11 hits and seven runs in his 5 1/3 innings to put his spring ERA at 8.80.

Manager Eric Wedge said the Mariners would see how Bonderman felt after throwing 89 pitches, but hinted his future might depend on accepting some time in Triple-A Tacoma to build himself up further.

"It's a unique situation," Wedge said. "What we're trying to do is put everybody in the best position to succeed and help us this year, whether it be right away or at some point in time later this year."

Bonderman is competing with Blake Beavan, Brandon Maurer and Erasmo Ramirez for the final two rotation spots. Ramirez will throw three innings in a Minor League start Wednesday after being slowed last week by some arm soreness. That would seem to put Beavan and Maurer in the driver's seat for the fourth and fifth starter jobs, but Bonderman will wait and see.

"They know what I can do," said Bonderman, who had Tommy John surgery last April. "They've seen how far I've come this spring, so we'll let them make the decision and move on and see what happens.

"I feel good. I think I proved to myself I can pitch again at this level. It's just really the only bad outing I've had. Everything else has been one pitch. This was a full inning. It's frustrating. Nobody wants to get their [butt] kicked. It's just a matter of finding a way to get better."

Wedge didn't disagree.

"He's had a good camp," the manager said. "He's come a long way. From the way he was throwing the ball early in camp to what we saw especially early on today, it's a considerable difference. That's where we are."

Morse, Gutierrez keep Mariners going deep

CHC@SEA: Morse chats with Mariners' broadcasters

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Michael Morse and Franklin Gutierrez hit home runs in the seventh inning of an 11-6 loss to the Royals on Tuesday as the Mariners continued rewriting the record book for homers this spring.

The two blasts, including a Morse monster shot that sailed over the 40-foot-high batter's eye in center field, extended the Mariners' club record to 54 home runs in 30 Cactus League games. No official Cactus League records are kept, but only one Major League team has hit more home runs in a spring since 2006, with the Royals totaling 56 in 36 games in 2009.

The Tigers hit 54 home runs in 32 games in 2006 in the Grapefruit League, and only two other teams have exceeded 50 in a spring in that span, with the Rangers at 52 in 29 games in '06 and the Brewers with 50 in '09.

Now Morse has seven home runs, one shy of the Mariners' individual record of eight by Mike Wilson in '09, with three spring games remaining. His blast was one of the few ever hit over the batter's eye in Peoria Stadium.

"He's a strong young man," manager Eric Wedge said. "For him to stay through that baseball and hit it that far, there's not a whole lot of people that can do that. The guy takes a lot of pride in his work and batting practice. He was working on some things today, particularly shooting the ball the other way. You saw that happen. And obviously staying through that ball, too, is impressive."

Wedge was equally pleased to see Gutierrez play the full game in center field and go 2-for-4 with three RBIs, a double and his fifth home run of the spring. Gutierrez has been slowed by soreness in his legs the past few weeks, but he is gearing toward Monday's opener in Oakland.

"We'll see how he feels tomorrow," Wedge said. "I've got him slated to be in the lineup again, and that will be a good test for him. He went nine innings today, so that was a good test. As you know, we've been very careful with him, and for good reason.

"He continues to say he's feeling better and is feeling a little more loose and free. I don't think he's to the point where he needs to be yet, but I think he's on the right track."

Worth noting

• Erasmo Ramirez had his schedule changed slightly and will now start and pitch three innings in a Minor League game Wednesday rather than come out of the bullpen in relief in the team's Cactus League game with the Dodgers.

Felix Hernandez will make his final spring start in the 1:05 p.m. PT game against the Dodgers and needs to get up to about 90 pitches, so Ramirez will have a better chance of getting his work in during the Minor League contest on one of the Peoria Sports Complex's practice fields.

• Hisashi Iwakuma gets the start Thursday against the Cubs in Mesa in a 12:05 p.m. PT game. Brandon Maurer is slated to face the Rockies in an exhibition finale Saturday afternoon in Salt Lake City before the team flies to Oakland for an off-day workout Sunday prior to Monday's Opening Day.