Ford Trying To Earn His Keep For Mariners





SEATTLE—It may have seemed like a door was closing on Darren Ford's future when he broke his index finger back in April.

A newcomer in the Mariners organization after extended runs in the Brewers and Giants organizations, the 26-year-old needed to have a big year. The New Jersey native has been playing pro baseball since 2005, and the clock is ticking.

But a door closed on his finger, costing him two months on the disabled list because he couldn't throw a ball or hold a bat. He has come back in a huge way, however, suggesting he's still got more than a little game left.

After he was activated at Triple-A Tacoma on June 15, Ford hit safely in 19 of his first 20 games and had a 15-game hitting streak during which he hit .403 (27-for-67), with multiple hits in 10 of the 15 games.

"He's been fun to watch," farm director Chris Gwynn said. "He's had some really tough luck since he got here, a really unfortunate accident, but now he's able to go out and show what he can do."

Ford, who played in 26 games for the Giants last year with a .286 average, needs to show his new organization that he's got the goods. Missing two months hurt, but Mariners minor leaguers have suffered plenty of injuries, so he's getting plenty of playing time.

"It's been a good run for him, but what Darren has to show now is consistency," Gwynn said. "Obviously he's playing well, and he's got it going, but he needs to keep it going."

Gwynn is quick to point out baseball is "full of late bloomers, and he may be one." Ford brings speed and a quick bat to the Mariners. He covers enough ground to play all three outfield positions and is one of the organization's best basestealing threats, with 11 in his first 20 games.

The Giants always seemed to see him as a fourth outfielder, but Ford is trying to prove now that he's more than that.

Marinade

• With the Mariners needing a starting pitcher soon after the all-star break due to injuries, righthander Blake Beavan helped himself with a 3-0, 3.19 record for Tacoma since his demotion from Seattle.

• Victor Sanchez, a 17-year-old righthander out of Venezuela, had a 3-0, 2.76 mark for short-season Everett. Opponents were hitting just .219 against Sanchez after five starts.