Bobby's World Comes to Tacoma

TACOMA, Wash. - In the real word where most of the earth's population resides, the twenty-something crowd lives for the future and looks forward to the next step in every facet of life, and at times gets into trouble using such a philosophy.

But Tacoma Rainiers left-hander Bobby Livingston does not live in the real world. He lives within himself and takes today for what it is – right in front of him and full of its own troubles. Anything more than one start ahead is too far to look.

The 22-year-old spun five so-so innings in his Triple-A debut on Saturday night, but if you ask the southpaw himself, he'll tell you differently.

"This was a bad start for me," said the M's top left-handed pitching prospect. "This isn't what I am used to. I can pitch much better."

Livingston gave up three earned runs on five hits, walked four and struck out two in the Rainiers 8-3 win over division-rival Portland.

"I wasn't until the first inning," said Livingston of being nervous in his first start with his new team. "It hit me when I took the mound but I was okay after that."

Livingston threw 88 pitches, only 49 for strikes, and sat between 84 and 87 with his four-seam fastball. Livingston was on the hook until the 7-run seventh inning by the Rainiers but did not get knocked around by the more experienced, patient hitters in the Pacific Coast League, including a Beavers lineup that boasted two all-star caliber hitters in Mark Loretta and Phil Nevin, both on rehab assignments from the first-place San Diego Padres.

"I'm not intimidated by anyone," said Livingston. "Those guys are really good hitters but I just need to make my pitches."

The two big leaguers combined to go 2-for-5 off Livingston with a walk and a strike out. Loretta walked, popped to short and singled to right on a hit and run when Ramon Santiago was sliding over to cover second base.

Nevin's hit was a flair to right-center field that scored the Beavers first run, but Livingston got his revenge in the third.

"I threw Phil a two-seam change-up away that he got the single on," said Livingston. "The next time I mixed him up and threw that pitch down and in and came back with a four-seamer (change-up) away for the strikeout."

Livingston induced six ground-ball outs and seven flyouts en route to the no-decision, and left the game trailing 3-1.

The M's promoted Livingston last Thursday after a sensational 18 starts in Double-A San Antonio where the Texas native was 8-4 with a 2.86 ERA and earned the start in the Texas League All-Star Game.

When Livingston got word of his promotion from M's Director of Player Development Frank Mattox at the conclusion of Wednesday night's game versus Arkansas at Wolff Municipal Stadium in San Antonio, the elation went directed into the phone calls he made to inform those close to him.

"I called my mom first," Livingston said. "Then my agent and relatives and friends."

When the news got out, the cell phone blew up.

"Yeah it did," said Livingston. "I'd be on it and it would ring in on the other end, pretty much non-stop that day."

Livingston's move through the system is a unique sight to see for the Mariners. Trying to nail down when the last left-hander that made it successfully through the system and into the big leagues is like trying to forget your worst memory.

Since Mark Langston and Dave Fleming in the 80s and early 90s, the M's have drafted and signed the likes of Ryan Anderson, Matt Thornton, Travis Blackley, Craig Anderson, Troy Cate, Ryan Ketchner, Glenn Bott and others, has landed the M's roster exactly 90.1 innings and a collective ERA of 6.19 in the big leagues.

While the Andersons, Ketchner and Bott are all out of the organization, Cate down in the lower minors and Blackley out for the year, Livingston's presence in Triple-A is a welcomed concept – a left-hander close to the majors.

While he's just a 45-minute cab ride from Safeco Field, Livingston is focused on the task at-hand and doesn't think about what might be next.

"I don't think ahead like that," said Livingston. "I'm only thinking about my next start here. Like it says in the Bible, ‘don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring it's own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.'

"I don't ever want to get ahead of myself."

What he does want to get ahead of, are hitters.

"You can't pitch from behind in the count," said Livingston. "These guys are more patient. But I'll be back out there in five days and get back on my game."

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