PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — Mike Zunino homered and doubled, Taijuan Walker pitched seven impressive innings and the Seattle Mariners beat the Los Angeles Angels 5-3 Monday.
Robinson Cano added his first spring homer for the Mariners and is hitting .364 in exhibition play.
The Angels and Mariners fielded lineups consisting mainly of the players who are likely to start on opening day next Monday when Los Angeles visits Seattle.
Zunino’s seven home runs and 13 RBIs lead Seattle this spring. The catcher is batting .354.
Zunino got a playful, palms-down “easy does it” sign from ace Felix Hernandez in the clubhouse after driving in three runs.
“I feel like the approach is much different,” Zunino said. “Last year I was just up there swinging and hoping to get something to hit. This year there’s more of a mental approach to it. It’s been a good learning experience I’ve had this spring.”
Walker’s scoreless streak ended at 19 innings when Matt Joyce homered in the second. That was the only run off Walker, who retired his final 17 batters.
Walker gave up three hits, walked none and struck out five.
“I didn’t try to do too much,” Walker said. “I feel really good with all my pitches.”‘
Mariners platoon designated hitter Rickie Weeks and the opening-day pitchers were the lone missing players from who’s expected to be on the field next week.
“At some point you’ve got to get these guys out there and they’ve got to play deep into games,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We want to get our guys together for sure and see how this lineup will work.”
The Angels scored twice in the ninth off Mariners lefty Charlie Furbush, who will be in the Seattle bullpen this season.
TRIBUTE TO A FALLEN TEAMMATE
The death of 20-year-old Mariners pitching prospect Victor Sanchez is still heavy on the minds of players and staff within the organization. Sanchez died Saturday in Venezuela from injuries suffered in a boating accident last month.
A makeshift memorial set up by minor league staff appeared outside the front door to the team’s spring training headquarters on Monday. Sanchez’s jersey was hung, adorned with candles, a ball and glove and a photo of him pitching. A bat was placed against the wall on one side and another photo of Sanchez on the other.
The Mariners released veteran pitcher Kevin Correia and have reassigned him to minor league camp. That leaves 28 players on the roster, and with the starting rotation all but set, the only decisions to be made are who makes the major league club out of the bullpen and what to do with injured infielder Chris Taylor, who will be out another month or so with a broken wrist.
Angels: Monday’s starter Nick Tropeano isn’t likely to open the season in the majors, but he could be an option at some point during the season. He allowed four runs on seven hits, striking out three and walking one in six innings.
“Nick took a huge step forward. That’s the command in the counts we were talking about,” Scioscia said. “Really just a couple of pitches he didn’t get.”
Mariners: Walker won’t be one of the Mariners’ starters who will pitch in the season-opening series in Seattle, but he’s on the Angels’ radar.
“I’m glad we got to see him. He’s good, no doubt,” Scioscia said. “They’ve got a really good starting rotation and he’s one piece of it.”
Walker gained some confidence facing Angels regulars.
“Hopefully I get to face them during the season. It was good to see what they have,” Walker said.
Mariners: OF Seth Smith (sore ankle) was scratched from the lineup, so Nelson Cruz took his place in right field and Weeks, who was scheduled to have the day off, was inserted at DH. Smith missed his second straight game. … SS Brad Miller returned after missing the weekend due to illness.
Angels: Jered Weaver gets his last tuneup before opening day Tuesday against Oakland.
Mariners: Hernandez gets his final work in before his opening day start. He faces the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday.
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