Major league spring training is a time for players to work on their games, be it pitching, hitting or defense. And above all, stay healthy. The goal is to have everything ready by opening day.
Charlie Furbush of South Portland is working toward that. The Seattle Mariners’ left-handed reliever knows the daily work under the Arizona sun could bring strong results.
“It’s all about getting ready for opening day in Oakland,” said Furbush from Peoria, Ariz., where the team trains.
“I just want to fine-tune things. The big thing for me is establishing my fastball on both sides of the plate. My other pitches come off it.”
The Mariners open April 1 with a four-game series against Oakland.
In some appearances this spring, Furbush felt his command wasn’t where it should be. He was leaving pitches up.
“I’ve been working on refining my delivery,” he said. “You can’t really get down on yourself. It’s spring training.”
Furbush has made eight appearances this spring with an 0-1 record. He has pitched 91/3 innings and given up 11 hits, including three homers. He has struck out eight and walked four with a 3.86 earned-run average.
A starting pitcher in the minors and briefly in the majors, Furbush was traded from Detroit, which drafted him in 2007, to Seattle on July 30, 2011. Furbush was switched to a reliever last season.
“When they sent me to Triple- A Tacoma at the start of last season, they told me they saw potential in me as a reliever and a setup guy,” said Furbush.
The 6-foot-5 Furbush, 26, flourished in that role for Seattle, finishing with a 5-2 record and a 2.72 ERA.
Some of his seasonal highlights:
• Recording a strikeout in 19 consecutive appearances from May 13 to July 3 — the second- longest streak by an American League reliever in 2012 and tying for third-longest in Mariners history.
• Leading the team with a .174 opposing batting average.
• Holding left-handers to a .147 batting average with 29 strikeouts.
• Recording 22 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings from May 17 to June 30 — the fourth-longest streak by a relief pitcher in Mariners history.
• Becoming the second pitcher in a six-pitcher combined no-hitter against the Dodgers on June 8. Furbush pitched two-thirds of an inning.
Furbush has settled into his bullpen role.
“It’s a fun role,” said Furbush. “There’s a chance I can get into games nearly every night, which is something I like. You get a feel for pitching every day. It’s almost like you’re an everyday player.”
Furbush feels he could be used in different relief roles this season other than closer.
“I could pitch multiple innings, one inning, or be brought in to face one batter in a situational-type thing. I feel like I’m capable of filling several roles,” he said.
Besides his fastball, Furbush has worked to develop his slider.
He throws a curve and a change-up, which he has been working on for more consistency.
Furbush had only praise for Detroit, which gave him his chance in pro baseball. His brief time with Seattle has been even more rewarding.
Last week, his father, Craig, and brother, Will, visited him in Arizona. After Monday’s workout, Furbush played nine holes of golf with them.
The next day they headed home to snowy Maine while Furbush continued his preparation for the season.
Furbush spent the offseason in Maine, giving him a chance to catch up with friends and unwind from baseball.
He hopes to improve on last season with a specific team goal.
“We want to bring the first World Series championship to Seattle,” he said.
Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: