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Turn on the HEAT!

PEORIA, Arizona -- Before I tell you how cool it was today, let me mention that the first time I drove from Scottsdale to Peoria for a game at the terrific Peoria Sports Complex (more anon), it took an hour through local traffic. Now they have completed the Arizona 101 Loop highway, the same drive takes only 30 minutes.

The Peoria people are well organized -- they direct you to separate parking lots depending on where you are sitting. Oh, and they don't ban umbrellas either, on rainy days. Methinks a letter to the HoHoKams and city of Mesa is in order. Peoria Stadium also has an entire area of food stands selling everything from fajitas to Philly cheesesteaks to regular ballpark fare, all grilled fresh. And, as in all the parks I've visited so far, there's no smoking anywhere.

Yes, it was cool today, for the Cubs' sloppy, messy, wacky 10-8 win over the Mariners. When the sun was out, it was pleasantly warm; when it wasn't -- about half the time -- it was cool. And windy. Probably about 25 MPH windy, with higher gusts. This is good practice for those windy April days at Wrigley Field.

It took the hitters five innings to figure out that the wind was blowing out a gale to RF; no homers were hit till then, and Sammy Sosa's to LF didn't need any help. Corey Patterson, Midre Cummings and Ichiro Suzuki (grand slam) all hit wind-aided HR to right.

Cub pitchers were awful today -- ten walks in addition to the fourteen Mariner hits. Not a single Cub pitcher threw well, except for Mike Remlinger, who had an uneventful inning. Alan Benes, who started, was credited with the win, but only because everyone else was worse.

Antonio Alfonseca was actually on the way to a creditable inning of work when he slipped on the still-damp grass trying to pick up a ground ball and suffered an injury that required him to be taken off the field on a motorized cart. It appeared to be a knee, though I have no confirmation of this; it was serious enough that the entire team surrounded him, including the outfielders, which is unusual. If this injury is as serious as it appears, I'd think he'd start the year on the DL, and Rod Beck would probably make the staff.

This was the last regularly scheduled Arizona game for Seattle; they are supposed to be leaving tomorrow for Japan, though it now seems possible the Japan games vs. the A's may be postponed or moved back to the US. So, Seattle played their everyday lineup for most of the game, including the hitting machine Edgar Martinez, who had four hits including a homer.

Mark Bellhorn solidified his claim on the starting job with a hit and walk and a couple of slick fielding plays. Hopefully, this will shut off all the silly Shea Hillenbrand talk. I was, however, once again puzzled by the fact that when Bellhorn was pulled in the 6th, David Kelton did not appear at 3B as his replacement; instead it was Phil Hiatt, who promptly made a throwing error. This makes no sense -- Kelton's going to be the starting 3B at Iowa and the future of this franchise; Hiatt's an almost-34-year-old retread.

Kelton was given a PH at-bat in the DH slot in the 9th and rang a booming double off the LF wall that missed being a HR by about six inches.

Tomorrow, it's supposed to be sunny all day, which would be a first since I've been here.