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Mariners 12, Cubs 9: Jason Hammel scuffles, Javy Baez almost back

Jason Hammel started against the Mariners on Sunday. (AP)

MESA, Ariz. — Jason Hammel knew the problem: His upper body was moving too fast, making it hard to him to keep the ball down. He saw the result, too, in the Cubs’ 12-9 loss to the Mariners on Sunday at Sloan Park. Hammel allowed nine runs on eight hits, striking out four and walking three in 4 1/3 innings. “Obviously execution has to be better down in the zone, but that was because of being a little quick up top,” he said. “That was always my mistake before. I was trying to create when I really didn’t need to.”

Three homers

Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano had quite a day, hitting three home runs and driving in seven. He hit two against Hammel in the first two innings. The first came on an 0-2 pitch when Hammel didn’t shake off the third-straight fastball call. “You never throw that guy three heaters in a row,” he said. Hammel was able to laugh about it. “Happy Easter, Robby Cano, I guess,” he said.

Baez back?
Javier Baez, who has been out since trying to play through a sore thumb on March 19 and 20, could return to the lineup Monday against the Angels. “I know he’s feeling pretty good,” manager Joe Maddon said. Baez could get enough at-bats to be ready by Opening Day, the skipper said.

Ramirez in?

Maddon said his 25-man roster was pretty much set — the only question mark being Baez’s health — but still wasn’t ready to acknowledge publicly whether reliever Neil Ramirez would make the team.

Lineup tinkering

Maddon hit Kris Bryant third and Ben Zobrist sixth, another step in his self-described “playing around” with his batting order. He met with team statistics analysts Saturday.

On deck

Cubs at Angels, 3:10 p.m., Cubs.com, Nick Tropeano vs. Kyle Hendricks

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Email: pfinley@suntimes.com