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SEA@LAA: Cano plates a run on ground-ball single

The Angels have already gotten a good look at the Mariners. Now Seattle's home fans finally have their first chance.

After six games, the Mariners finally make their Safeco Field debut on Tuesday night against the Halos, who will be looking to reverse their recent fortune -- or misfortune, to be more precise -- against the division rivals. Seattle swept the Angels in a three-game series to open the season in Anaheim, and Tuesday's meeting will be a rematch between the Mariners' James Paxton and Halos left-hander Hector Santiago from the season's third game, which Seattle won, 8-2.

Not only will it be the team's first game of the year at Safeco Field, but it'll be the home debuts of a number of new faces, including new manager Lloyd McClendon and superstar second baseman Robinson Cano, who signed as a free agent this winter.

"For my ballclub, I think it's big because we haven't had that everyday guy out there to be that type of guy," McClendon said of the impact Cano has had immediately with the Mariners. "It's nice to have that, particularly when he's a superstar. I think it speaks volumes about him, and it's certainly a relaxing feeling from a manager's standpoint that you have that kind of guy on the field."

Fernando Rodney, Logan Morrison, John Buck, Corey Hart and Chris Young are also among the new Mariners set to be introduced on Tuesday night.

The evening will also surely provide Paxton, a Ladner, British Columbia native, a new Safeco Field experience from the one he would experience as a child when he'd venture down to Seattle occasionally to see a game. The 25-year-old has pitched in just five Major League games to date, but this one figures to rank among his highlights for a long time to come.

"It'll definitely be up there," Paxton said. "It's going to be very, very cool. From what I've heard, it's pretty much down to single seats available. It's going to be loud in there, which will make it a lot of fun for us. I'm very excited to get to Seattle and get in front of our fans and pitch."

Indeed, the opener is a virtual sellout, so about 45,000 strong will be rooting on a Mariners team that has gotten off to an excellent start under McClendon, after a 4-2 road trip to Anaheim and Oakland.

Paxton has proved to be one of the shining lights on a surprisingly stout pitching rotation, throwing seven scoreless innings in a two-hit gem against the Halos in his season debut.

The 6-foot-4 southpaw is 4-0 with a 1.16 ERA in five career starts, the first four coming as a September callup last season. So Paxton still holds rookie status in Major League Baseball and figures to be one of the game's premier young arms if he continues what he has managed in his initial ventures.

He will face the same Angels squad that managed just two hits with two walks and nine strikeouts last Wednesday in Anaheim. And until the Halos find some answers, the lanky lefty will just keep attacking in the same manner.

"I'm just keeping my plan the same," Paxton said. "If I see them start to make adjustments on me, that's when I have to adjust also. It's just going to be a bit of a chess match to see what happens and see where I have to go with how I'm pitching."

Santiago went five-plus innings in that game, giving up seven hits and four runs with three walks and four strikeouts before being pulled after 83 pitches.

Santiago, 26, was acquired from the White Sox over the offseason. He went 4-9 with a 3.56 ERA in 34 games (23 starts) with Chicago in 2013.

Angels: Hamilton's patience paying off
Josh Hamilton, who was named co-American League Player of the Week -- along with Twins first baseman Chris Colabello -- drew three walks in Monday's 9-1 victory over the Astros for the first time in five years.

As Hamilton said: "You see more pitches if you don't swing at [garbage]."

Hamilton drew a first-inning walk against promising 23-year-old right-hander Jarred Cosart, then came around to score on Howie Kendrick's two-run single. He walked again in the third, reached on an error by first baseman Chris Carter in the fifth and was intentionally walked by Brad Peacock with first base open in the seventh, just before a two-run single by Raul Ibanez and a run-scoring single from Kendrick to give the Angels an 8-0 lead.

In the ninth, Hamilton drove in a run with a single up the middle, keeping his batting average at .500 through the first seven games.

"It's saying to yourself, 'I have more time than I think I do,'" Hamilton said. "That helps slow the game down. The worst thing in the game is moving fast anyway, if you are thinking fast. It's counterproductive. So I have more time than I realize. I have to remind myself that."

Mariners: Cano delivering on many levels
Cano has been an immediate presence at the plate, getting hits in the Mariners' first six games and batting .391 after the season's first road stretch with his new team.

But Cano has also been a vocal presence on the field. When Felix Hernandez briefly became upset with a ball called by home-plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth on Saturday, Cano made a quick visit to the mound, and Hernandez quickly got back in his groove. Cano has done the same with the team's younger pitchers and has helped fellow infielders position themselves for various hitters.

"I don' t think it's anything new for him," McClendon said. "Contrary to belief with his time in New York, I think he's always been a leader. I think it's just a natural role for him. I don't think it's anything out of the ordinary.

Worth noting
• The Mariners will salute the Super Bowl-champion Seahawks on Tuesday as part of their Opening Night ceremonies at Safeco Field, with quarterback Russell Wilson among several players who will be part of a pregame presentation and the ceremonial first pitch.

• Opening Night festivities will begin at 4:40 p.m. PT, when the gates of Safeco Field open to the general public with a countdown at the Home Plate Gate. Pregame ceremonies start at 6:30 p.m. PT.

• With catcher Mike Zunino and reliever Dominic Leone, the Mariners are the only team in the Majors with two players from the 2012 Draft on their active roster. Zunino was Seattle's first-round Draft pick, and Leone was a 16th-round selection.

• Ibanez made his first start in left field on Monday. The 41-year-old designated hitter won't come close to matching the 832 1/3 innings he spent in the outfield with the Mariners last year, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia has said he'd like to get him some time out there periodically.

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