Morning Roundup

CC Sabathia returning to the rotation was a shot in the arm for a pitching staff that needed one. Sabathia can still throw 95-97 mph, but he doesn't really have to do it:

"We talked about throwing first-pitch breaking balls and first-pitch change-ups and then finishing off with the heater," said Sabathia, "instead of starting everyone off with the heater.

In other words, make a 91 mph fastball seem like a 95 mph fastball. Most of the time, the velocity of the fastball isn't what gets a hitter out, it's the pitch before that does.

Travis Hafner played yesterday despite still feeling the effects of the flu. He chugged home all the way from first after Ronnie Belliard hit a double down the left-field line in the seventh inning.

Bob Wickman collected his sixth save of the season yesterday, making him the team's all-time saves leader with 130. Doug Jones, the former saves leader, was in Milwaukee when Wickman replaced him as the Brewers' closer:

"I remember saving my first game as the new closer," said Wickman. "Doug came up to me and said, If you ever need anyone to talk to, I'm here for you.' I took the job from him and he had no hard feelings."

Matt Lawton asked the Mariners to release him a couple weeks ago because he wasn't getting enough at-bats:

"It's impossible to stay ready," Lawton said. "You sit down for two weeks, then OK, you get one start, then OK, you get two starts. Now I'm sitting again, and then you're going to be lost again.

"When I get the opportunity, I'll play hard. But I can't control when I'm going to play, where I'm going to play."

The Mariners have actually tried Lawton in center field at times thanks to Jeremy Reed's offensive struggles, but you and I both know he's not a credible solution there. Raul Ibanez and Ichiro man the corners, and are two of the Mariners' most consistent hitters. So the only spot for Lawton appears to be Designated Hitter, where Carl Everett has gotten the most at-bats. Still, it's hard to feel sorry for Lawton given that he was the one who signed with the Mariners last off-season.

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