JOSE M. ROMERO
PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) -- The way Jon Garland sees it, he has nothing to lose by going out and throwing as hard as his surgically repaired right shoulder will allow.
Garland, out of baseball all of last season after surgery in July 2011, struggled for the first time in four appearances this spring. He allowed five runs and six hits while striking out seven in three innings as the Seattle Mariners lost 8-1 to the Netherlands on Friday night.
Garland is effectively in a four-man competition for the last two spots in the Mariners' starting rotation.
"It's a lot easier for me in the position that I'm in compared to a younger guy trying to make the team. It's not going to be the end of the world for me if they tell me I'm out of here," the 33-year-old veteran of 12 big-league seasons said. "There's 29 more teams. If someone wants to give me a chance, they will. If not, they won't. But it's trying to do the best you can, really."
Garland said his seven strikeouts were misleading, that a lot of major-league hitters would take the pitches that the Dutch players swung through and missed.
"As far as the arm goes and letting it go and worrying about the surgery and all that, the position I'm in, I've pitched a career," Garland said. "So it's not the end of the world for me. I'm basically going out there and letting everything go as hard as I can. If it goes, it goes. If it holds up, that's kind of what I'm hoping for."
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said spring training has reached the point when players are competing for jobs.
"They've got to go out there and pitch and perform and we still have a couple of weeks so we'll see what happens," Wedge said.
Former Mariner Wladimir Balentien had a three-run home run and a two-run single for the Netherlands.
Balentien, now playing in Japan four years after his last stint with the Mariners, took Garland deep over the center-field fence in the top of the first inning, after Jurickson Profar hit the game's first pitch for a single and Jonathan Schoop walked.
Balentien drove in two more runs with a two-out single in the second, driving in Schoop and Roger Bernadina.
Dustin Ackley had a run-scoring double for the Mariners in the bottom of the first and ended his night with two hits.
Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen had his worst outing of the spring so far, giving up two runs and three hits in the ninth inning.
The Netherlands team heads to San Francisco for the World Baseball Classic semifinals and will work out at AT&T Park on Saturday and Sunday before facing either the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico on Monday.
NOTES: The Mariners paid tribute to the late Greg Halman, a former top prospect who died at age 24 before the 2012 season. Halman played for The Netherlands in the 2009 WBC. Players from both teams stood for a moment of silence in honor of Halman. ... The Mariners optioned pitchers Bobby LaFromboise and Yoervis Medina and infielders Vinnie Catricala, Alex Liddi and Carlos Triunfel to AAA Tacoma on Friday. OFs Francisco Martinez and Julio Morban were optioned to AA Jackson. Pitchers Andrew Carraway, catchers John Hicks and Ronny Paulino and infielder Stefen Romero were re-assigned to the minor-league camp. ... Erasmo Ramirez starts for the Mariners on Saturday against Colorado, and Blake Beavan is scheduled to start on Sunday against Texas. Both pitchers are candidates for the starting rotation. Wedge said he hopes to have OF Franklin Gutierrez back in the lineup on Sunday. Gutierrez is dealing with tightness in his legs.
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