M's Cortes Slowing Down, Moving Up

SEATTLE — Given the velocity on his fastball, it seemed a good bet that righthander Dan Cortes would make the Mariners' roster out of spring training.

He reaches 98-99 mph with relative ease, but Cortes is learning that he needs more than just pure heat to get by. Control is essential, and with four walks in four spring innings coupled with 60 walks in 102 innings last year, it was clear that mastery was lacking.

"I was a little disappointed," he admitted. "I felt like I worked so hard. But at the time, it felt like I didn't do so well, like I didn't give it my all. I had a mental change when I got to minor league camp. I was like, I have to work twice as hard to get back up."

Acquired from the Royals in the Yuniesky Betancourt deal in 2009, Cortes got off to a 1-0, 3.24 start with Triple-A Tacoma, with four walks against nine strikeouts in eight innings over his first six appearances out of the bullpen.

That was good enough for the Mariners to promote him to the big leagues in late April. Cortes, 24, said he worked to smooth his delivery with the hope that will lead to better consistency.

"Last year I was herky-jerky," Cortes said. "I was working with (Rainiers pitching coach) Dwight Bernard on staying put and staying aligned with home plate. And then just be calm and cool."

His velocity dipped slightly to about 96-97 mph, but the tradeoff will be worth it if he throws more strikes. "I don't want to throw my arm out just trying to get to triple digits," Cortes said. "Now I'm just trying to throw strikes and get hitters out."


• Lefthander James Paxton, the fourth-round pick in the 2010 draft who signed in early March, finally made his debut in late April at low Class A Clinton. He yielded three runs over six innings while striking out six and walking one.

• Outfielder Mike Wilson was promoted to the major leagues on May 8. Wilson, 27, gets his shot after 10 years in the minor leagues. He's a career .264/.360/.473 hitter.