Vogelbach caps scorching hot spring with HR

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Mariners rookie Daniel Vogelbach finished up his impressive Cactus League season in fitting fashion as he went 2-for-4 and cranked a three-run homer in his final at-bat, leading to a 5-3 victory over the Rockies in Tuesday's spring finale at Salt River Fields.

Vogelbach led all Major Leaguers in both the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues in average (.407), on-base percentage (.529) and slugging percentage (.926) while hitting seven doubles, seven home runs and tallying 15 RBIs in 54 at-bats.

The 25-year-old rookie earned an Opening Day roster berth with his big spring, though he'll be the backup to Ryon Healy at first base.

"Vogel-bomb ended his spring the right way," said manager Scott Servais. "Danny had an awesome spring, so it was nice to see him complete it that way. You figured he was going to hit the ball hard somewhere. I'm really happy for him. Hopefully it continues. He'll get a few starts early in the season and hopefully he stays hot."

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Vogelbach broke a 2-2 tie with his home run to center field in the eighth inning off right-hander Matt Pierpont, who pitched Double-A ball last year. He also singled in the second off Chad Bettis, who'll open the year as the Rockies' No. 4 starter.

After being acquired from the Cubs for lefty Mike Montgomery during the 2016 season, Vogelbach had a chance to earn a platoon role at first last spring with Danny Valencia, but instead was sent to Triple-A Tacoma after struggling in camp.

But the youngster vowed to relax this spring and couldn't have done much more to make his case.

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"The defense has been much better. The at-bats, the approach at the plate. He's a different guy," Servais said. "The guy our scouts saw when we acquired him is starting to come out. It's good for him and it's good for us."

Marco finishes up strong spring

Marco Gonzales, ticketed to open the season as Seattle's No. 4 starter, allowed seven hits and two runs over 4 2/3 innings in Tuesday's finale and is eager to turn his focus now to the regular season.

"The expectations I have for myself are high," said Gonzales, who earned his first Opening Day roster spot. "Being able to execute pitches, I have a very high standard for that, so that's something I want to get better at. As far as my arm health, I couldn't be happier with that. So finding a routine that works for me and learning from every outing, it's gone well."

Gonzales won't make his debut until next Tuesday in Seattle's road opener at San Francisco, but his strong spring has helped alleviate some concerns and questions over the ability of the Mariners' rotation.

"There was never any questions in our minds," Gonzales said. "We're going to go out and win ballgames. I don't know where those questions have come from, but we've got four guys to start the season that are ready to get after it."

Good time to find the timing

Right fielder Mitch Haniger had been struggling to find his timing at the plate after missing the first 2 1/2 weeks of Cactus League play while his sore right hand healed up. He was 6-for-37 with 15 strikeouts heading into Thursday's finale.

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But the 27-year-old ripped a pair of doubles in a 2-for-3 day against the Rockies, raising his spring average to .200 and -- more importantly -- giving him confidence going into the games that count.

"That was the best Mitch has swung the bat all spring," Servais said. "He got in better counts and was more aggressive when he got his pitch. Good timing for him. He's been trying to figure some things out and getting some extra work in the cage, so he's ready to roll."

Injury updates

Servais said Robinson Cano's strained left hamstring is completely healed, but Nelson Cruz continues to deal with a sore right quad muscle. He'll test the leg in Wednesday's workout at Safeco Field before a decision is made as to whether he's ready to start Thursday's opener at designated hitter.

Left fielder Ben Gamel will accompany the team back to Seattle and stay with the club on its first road trip as he continues working back from a sprained right oblique. Gamel is now taking batting practice with the club. He'll eventually join Triple-A Tacoma to get some live batting practice when the Rainiers first report, before being sent out on a Minor League rehab assignment once he's ready.

Starting pitchers Erasmo Ramirez (right lat strain) and Hisashi Iwakuma (shoulder surgery in September) will also accompany the team back to Seattle and then on the road as they continue ramping up their rehab work. Both threw bullpen sessions last week, and Ramirez could be back in late April, while Iwakuma appears to be working toward a possible May return.

Up next

The Mariners open the regular season Thursday at 7:10 p.m. PT at Safeco Field with Felix Hernandez making his 10th consecutive Opening Day start against defending AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber of the Indians.

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