PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) _ Lee Tinsley hit for the cycle, and 18-year-old Japanese pitcher Makoto Suzuki worked two scoreless innings Saturday in the Seattle Mariners’ 7-0 victory over the San Diego Padres.
Suzuki, a relief pitcher, is trying to become the first Japanese-born player to reach the big leagues without starting his career in Japan’s professional leagues.
He said he wasn’t nervous in his first outing against major-league batters, but compared the appearance to a ″free-fall.″
″I want to pitch in America,″ Suzuki said through translator Michael Okumura. ″I don’t know if I’m ready. I’ll just do my best.″
He pitched in front of 5,556 fans at Peoria Stadium. Tinsley had the big bat, but the show centered on Suzuki, who was wearing No. 96 as a non-roster player.
After the game, Suzuki held a press conference, confronting six television cameras and 40 reporters. Two dozen Japanese journalists attended the game.
″He had a good, live fastball,″ Mariners pitching coach Sammy Ellis said. ″He has been very composed with all of the media coverage.″
Suzuki’s first pitch was driven to center field by Derek Bell for a double. The 6-foot-3-inch right-hander then retired the next six batters he faced, striking out rookie first baseman Dave Staton.
Suzuki appeals to the Mariners because of his 95-mph fastball. He was clocked at 93 mph by a Texas scout.
The only Japanese player to reach the big leagues was Masanori Murakami, who pitched for the San Francisco Giants in 1964-65. But Murakami opened and closed his career in the Japanese leagues.
In Suzuki’s first full season in professional baseball, last year with Single-A San Bernardino, he went 4-4 with a 3.68 earned-run average and 12 saves in 48 appearances.
Tinsley’s cycle began after he flew out to left field in the first inning. He then singled to right in the second off Padres starter Andy Benes, tripled to center in the fourth off left-hander Jose Martinez, homered to left in the seventh off left-hander Blaine Beatty and doubled to right in the eighth off Beatty.
Benes, who will be the Padres’ opening-day Day pitcher, yielded two runs off four hits in two innings. The right-hander struck out one and walked one.
The walk came in the two-run first inning, when Benes missed on a 3-and-2 pitch to Keith Mitchell with the bases loaded. Earlier in the inning, Benes hit Mike Blowers with a pitch on an errant fastball.
A week before his first spring outing, Benes underwent a magnetic resonance imaging scan on his swollen right knee. The MRI showed no serious damage and Benes has not missed a day of camp.
He remains on schedule to open the season April 4 against the Atlanta Braves.