Robinson Cano isn’t in the lineup for a second straight day on Friday and the explanation is simple. The Mariners new second baseman had root canal surgery on Wednesday afternoon and will be on a day-to-day basis regarding his return.
Cano is off to a nice start, hitting .500 (6-for-12) with three runs and three RBIs in five games.
Carlos Triunfel gets the start at second today against the Reds in the 12:05 p.m. PT game at Peoria Stadium after Willie Bloomquist played there on Thursday.
Corey Hart makes his outfield debut today, getting his first game action in right field after playing strictly designated hitter in previous games. The Mariners have brought him along carefully as he returns from a pair of microfracture knee surgeries that forced him to sit out all of 2013 with the Brewers.
How pleased is he with Hart’s progress so far?
“I’ll let you know at the end of the day,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “At some point we need to get him out there. It’s early and you always want to be cautious. But we need to see where he’s at.”
Left-hander Randy Wolf gets his second spring start on the mound today as he continues working his way back from Tommy John surgery. He’s expected to throw three innings after putting up a pair of scoreless frames in his debut against the Indians on Sunday.
Here’s the full lineup for the game, which will be carried live on 710 ESPN Seattle radio.
Abraham Almonte CF
Kyle Seager 3B
Nick Franklin SS
Justin Smoak 1B
Corey Hart RF
Logan Morrison DH
Dustin Ackley LF
Mike Zunino C
Carlos Triunfel 2B
Randy Wolf LHP
The other news of the morning was an announcement by John Stearns that he was stepping down as third-base coach due to health reasons, with Rich Donnelly taking his place. You can read that story here.
After dealing with a tough recovery from hiatal hernia surgery for the past two weeks, Mariners third base coach John Stearns announced he’s stepping down from that position Friday and will be replaced for the upcoming season by Triple-A Tacoma manager Rich Donnelly.
Stearns, 62, said he isn’t close to being ready to resume baseball activities and felt it wouldn’t be fair to the team to disrupt the start of their season by forcing a change in the third-base coaching position at a later date.
Stearns will be reassigned to a pro scouting position once he returns, general manager Jack Zduriencik said. Zduriencik indicated the team will name its new Tacoma manager in several days.
Stearns, a four-time National League All-Star catcher during his playing days with the Phillies and Mets, has been in the Mariners organization the past two years. Stearns originally was hired by the Mariners to work in their pro scouting department and was the Minor League catching coordinator in 2012 and the first part of last season before working briefly as the Mariners third base coach and then taking over as Tacoma’s manager in May.
“It kills me because the thing we all want to do in this business is be in the big leagues,” Stearns said. “I’ve got 20-some years in the big leagues and about 20 in the Minors. I want to come back at my age and have another shot, but I didn’t want to do it at the expense of the players and the organization. I think I can get healthy, but it’s going to be later on.”
“The continuity issue here is the major factor,” Zduriencik said. “We all feel bad for John. It’s tough on him to do this, but it’s his decision. He came forward and said he just didn’t think it was the right thing.”
Donnelly, 67, is a veteran of 27 years as a Major League coach, including 14 as a third base coach. He coached third base for the Pirates from 1993-95, the Marlins from 1997-98, the Rockies from 1999-2002, the Brewers from 2003-05 and the Dodgers in 2006-07.
“As we move forward, the most important thing is making sure John gets healthy and can be productive again,” said manager Lloyd McClendon, who has long histories with both Stearns and Donnelly.
Player of the Game: Veteran right-hander Scott Baker had another solid start, going three innings and allowing one run on three hits. Baker, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2012, threw 32 pitches and continued looking like a viable candidate for a rotation berth as a non-roster invitee. The 32-year-old did benefit from three excellent defensive plays behind him – diving catches by right fielder Xavier Avery and center fielder Endy Chavez and a nice backhand stop by shortstop Brad Miller – but he’s a control pitcher who counts on the defense making plays behind him. So far, so good.
Stat of the Game: With Baker’s one run in three frames, Mariners starters have now posted a 1.25 ERA in nine starts this spring (three earned runs in 21 2/3 innings).
Storyline: The Mariners only started three regular position players in this one, so the primary focus was on getting solid efforts from Baker and new closer Fernando Rodney, who made his spring debut. Rodney allowed a run on two hits, but was working on his fastball location and said he felt strong and just needs more games now to get sharp. Seattle won it with five runs in the final three frames with help from some of their young hitters, including an RBI triple by Stephen Romero for his first hit in 17 at-bats this spring.
Worth noting: D.J. Peterson, last year’s first-round Draft pick, got his first hit in a Major League contest with an RBI single in the seventh. Peterson has been in Minor League camp, with the Mariners not wanting to push him too fast after he broke his jaw when hit by a pitch last August. But the young third baseman was given a chance to play Thursday and came through.
Quote of the Day: “I’m still shaking a little bit. It’s awesome being around these big-league guys. I’ve been watching some of these guys for five, six years. I’d be lying if I said I’m not nervous at all.” –Peterson after getting his first hit for the Mariners.
Next: Veteran lefty Randy Wolf makes his second start of the spring when the Mariners host the Reds on Friday at 12:05 p.m. PT at Peoria Stadium as he continues his comeback from Tommy John surgery. Wolf, 37, threw two scoreless innings on Sunday against the Indians in his first game since Oct. 20, 2012. He’s scheduled for three innings, with Logan Kensing, Carson Smith, Dominic Leone, Nick Hill, Yoervis Medina and Ramon Ramirez also slated for one inning apiece.The game will be broadcast live on 710 ESPN Seattle.
Here’s today’s boxscore.
Here’s a feature story I wrote this morning on exciting outfield prospect James Jones, who has caught Lloyd McClendon’s eye with his play this spring.
And here’s a link to the daily notebook, with today’s news from camp.
Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker, one of baseball’s top young prospects, returned from a week-long layoff to rest his sore shoulder by playing some light catch on Thursday. And the 21-year-old said all went well after a frustrating seven days on the sidelines.
“It felt good, really good,” said Walker, who was diagnosed with bursitis in his throwing shoulder last week after feeling soreness in the first two weeks of camp. “It was just 60 feet, so not really getting out there. But it was a test to see how I felt and it felt good.”
Walker, who is expected to miss at least the first few weeks of the regular season, admitted he was anxious about even playing catch after the shoulder had given him problems ever since his arrival at camp.
“I was a little nervous about it, especially being out for seven days,” he said. “I didn’t really know what to expect. But I was pretty happy with the results.”
The Mariners believe Walker just overthrew getting ready for camp, wanting to come in ready to compete for a rotation berth. Tests didn’t show any structural damage last week, just inflammation, and the expectation is he should be fine once he builds his arm strength up again with a slow throwing program in the coming weeks.
Walker said he’ll move back a little and play catch at about 75-90 feet on Friday and continue that process until getting cleared to throw bullpens and eventually throw to live hitters in batting practice and simulated games.
Even being sidelined for a week was a tough pill to swallow for the youngster.
“It sucks being out for a period of time,” he said. “It felt like seven days was months. I was getting bored at the end. I was looking forward to this day all week. I couldn’t imagine being out longer, especially watching everyone go out there and compete and have fun. You’re just sitting there. It’s mentally tough because you want to e out there and push through it, but at same time you need you have to take it slow.”
Taijuan Walker just played catch for a few minutes this morning, the first time he’s thrown since being shut down seven days earlier with inflammation in his right shoulder. It was a very short session, just warm-up tosses from about 45 feet, while all the pitchers began their warm-ups before the morning workout.
Then Walker chatted with pitching coach Rick Waits and assistant trainer Matt Toth and called it good. The fact head trainer Rick Griffin wasn’t there seems a pretty good indication the Mariners didn’t think this was too critical a step.
I’m sure there’ll be many more eyes on Walker when he starts throwing long toss and then when he gets on the mound for bullpen sessions and eventually graduates to throwing to live hitters again. That process will take several weeks, before the 21-year-old can even think about pitching in games.
Once he is cleared for game action, the Mariners will want to build his innings up to where he can throw six or seven frames before he pitches in a regular-season outing. All of which is why you shouldn’t anticipate Walker being ready for the start of the season, instead shooting for sometime in mid-April at the very earliest.
Otherwise, it’s a pretty routine morning at camp as the Mariners prepare for a 12:05 p.m. PT game against the White Sox in Glendale. Fernando Rodney will make his Cactus League debut in relief of starter Scott Baker, so that will be worth watching as well.
The only live radio broadcast on this one will be on Mariners.com through the audio link on Gameday and there is no television or delayed radio broadcasts tonight.
Here’s the lineup, which will be facing White Sox starter John Danks:
Endy Chavez CF
Stefen Romero LF
Kyle Seager 3B
Corey Hart DH
Jesus Montero 1B
Brad Miller SS
Xavier Avery RF
John Buck C
Willie Bloomquist 2B
Scott Baker RHP
Player of the Game: Young left-hander James Paxton continued his strong spring with three scoreless innings as he’s looking more and more like a lock for the opening rotation. Paxton allowed just two hits with no walks and a strikeout, continuing the impressive run he began last September when he was outstanding in four starts as a late-season callup.
Stat of the Game: Three errors and two unearned runs only told part of the story as the Mariners got sloppy in the late going and had trouble in the outfield on a sunny afternoon in Peoria.
Storyline: The Mariners put up four runs off four hits in the first off Triple-A pitcher Travis Banwart … then didn’t manage another hit all afternoon. Paxton pitched well and Abraham Almonte hit a leadoff home run that was quickly followed by a Kyle Seager double, a Robinson Cano single and eventually a two-run single by Nick Franklin that made it 4-0. But once the first inning flurry subsided, the bats shut down and the gloves didn’t help much either.
Worth noting: Lucas Luetge gave up four runs (three earned) on three hits and a walk in 1 2/3 innings to let Cleveland back in the game in the seventh. Luetge normally is a situational lefty and he had a 1-2-3 sixth, but got into trouble when he was brought back out for a second frame and tired as he was stretched out to 34 pitches. Danny Farquhar also got tagged for three runs (two earned) while getting just one out in the ninth, but he wasn’t helped by a dropped fly ball by right fielder Xavier Avery and then a throwing error by catcher Humberto Quintero.
Quote of the Day: “We didn’t execute very well at the end of the game. Those are the things that are going to happen in Spring Training. We’ve talked about it, we’ll address them tomorrow and we’ll work on it.” — McClendon on the late-inning defensive mistakes.
Next: Veteran right-hander Scott Baker gets his second start of the spring on Thursday as the Mariners travel to Glendale for a 12:05 p.m. PT game with the White Sox. Baker, 32, threw two scoreless innings with one hit in his debut against the Angels on Saturday and is making a strong bid for a rotation spot as a non-roster invitee. Closer Fernando Rodney is slated to make his first spring appearance in relief, with Roenis Elias, Tom Wilhelmsen, Zach Miner and Logan Bawcom also scheduled for an inning. The live radio broadcast of the game is available for free on Gameday Audio on Mariners.com.
Here’s today’s boxscore.
Here’s my feature story today on catcher Mike Zunino and his importance this year on the offensive end as well as behind the plate.
Here’s the list of 13 players cut this morning as the Mariners made their first roster trim of the spring.
And here’s the rest of news from camp in today’s notebook.
With Minor League camp opening Wednesday, the Mariners cut 13 players from their Major League camp as they began the process of weeding down to an eventual 25-man roster.
The Mariners opened with a club-record 68 players, so they still have 55 in camp. Wednesday’s moves included three involving players on the 40-man roster, with injured left-hander Danny Hultzen optioned to Triple-A Tacoma and outfielder Julio Morban and left-hander Anthony Fernandez optioned to Double-A Jackson.
Hultzen, one of the club’s top prospects, will not play at all this season as he’s rehabbing from rotator cuff surgery. Morban, 22, also is on the injury mend as he’s recovering from a broken ankle that occurred at in late August while he was playing for Jackson.
The 10 other players were non-roster invitees, so they were re-assigned to Minor League camp. That group included four position players – catchers John Hicks and Manuel Pina, infielder Gabriel Noriega and outfielder Burt Reynolds, who is the cousin of second baseman Robinson Cano.
Also re-assigned were right-handed pitchers Jonathan Arias, Andrew Carraway, Stephen Kohlscheen, Mark Rogers and Chance Ruffin and left-hander James Gillheeney.
The Mariners now have 37 roster players and 18 non-roster invitees remaining in camp.
Player of the Game: Catcher Mike Zunino ripped a pair of doubles in his two at-bats in the third and fourth innings as the youngster continued his strong start to spring. Zunino could help provide a needed right-handed bat this year if he can carry things over to the regular season. The 22-year-old has gone 4-for-7 (.571) with three doubles in his first four Cactus League games.
Stat of the Game: The Mariners have now outscored their opponents 45-18 while going 6-1 out of the gate and their 1.80 pitching ERA is the lowest of any of the 30 Major League teams so far this spring.
Storyline: Felix Hernandez made his Cactus League debut and threw two scoreless frames, though he wasn’t particularly happy afterward. Hernandez gave up two hits – including a leadoff double on the first pitch of the game to Yasiel Puig – and said his normally-potent changeup was “garbage.” In other words, it was the first outing of spring and Hernandez has some things to work on in his remaining four spring starts before Opening Day in Anaheim on March 31.
Worth noting: Kyle Seager returned to action after sitting out the previous four days with a jammed index finger on his right hand that occurred when he slid headfirst into third in the first inning of the first spring game. Seager went 1-for-4 with an RBI.
Quote of the Day: “He’s been working on his trigger all spring and it just goes to show you what kind of talent he has. I think he’s in the process of putting it all together and he should be an enjoyable young man to watch this summer.” — McClendon on Zunino’s batting approach.
Next: Young left-hander James Paxton makes his second start of the spring on Wednesday when the Mariners host the Indians in a 12:05 p.m. PT game in Peoria. Paxton threw two perfect innings in his debut against the Padres and is making a strong bid to earn a rotation berth after shining in four starts last season as a September call-up. He’ll likely go three innings, with Brandon Maurer then making his first appearance of the spring after dealing with a stiff back. Lucas Luetge, Joe Beimel, Danny Farquhar and Bobby LaFromboise are also scheduled to pitch.
Here’s today’s boxscore.
Here’s a story I wrote this morning on Dustin Ackley and his outstanding start to spring.
Here’s today’s notebook with all the news from camp.
And you can watch video of Felix’s performance by clicking here:
Felix Hernandez makes his Cactus League debut in Glendale this afternoon against a pretty interesting Dodgers lineup. You’ve got Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier at the top. And, yep, former Mariner Chone Figgins batting ninth and playing second base.
Felix is only slated for two innings, so if all goes well he won’t even get to Figgins. But we’ll see how things roll.
After Monday’s split-squad day, the Mariners are going with quite a few backups today, including Minor League callup Ketel Marte, a 20-year-old second baseman who hit .304 at Class-A Clinton last year.
“Our guys have been going at it hard and a lot of those guys have played two or three days in a row,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “We still have a long way to go. We have to be smart about how we do this and make sure they’re fresh and building toward the season. So we want to keep their legs fresh. I thought it was a good day to kind of refresh them a little bit.”
As for Marte, who was one of a large group of Minor Leaguers who also saw a little time in Monday’s split-squad game against the Rockies?
“I think it’s good when you can bring kids over from the Minor League camp and give them a shot in the arm,” McClendon said. “It’s good for the organization and he’s a talented young man that deserves an opportunity to get a look. I wouldn’t read too much into it, but I think it’s good for the organization when you can do that.”
McClendon said he was very impressed with all the youngsters he saw Monday.
“I think it speaks volumes about our organization as a whole and what we’ve got coming,” he said. “Any time you can reward those kids with a little big-league play, it’s a shot in the arm.”
Here’s the lineup that will start out against Dodgers reliever Brian Wilson, who is getting the start today.
Brad Miller SS
Kyle Seager 3B
Stefen Romero LF
Justin Smoak 1B
Logan Morrison DH
Cole Gillespie RF
James Jones CF
MIke Zunino C
Ketel Marte 2B
Felix Hernandez RHP
The 12:05 p.m. PT game will not be on radio. It will be available live to MLB.TV subscribers, and also shown free on a slight delay on the MLB Network starting at 1 p.m. PT.
What does McClendon want to see out of Hernandez today?
“Just stay healthy and get his work in,” McClendon said. “Just get ready.”
The Mariners had a split-squad situation today, also winning 6-5 over the Reds in Goodyear. But I was in Peoria to see the Rockies, so I’ll stick with that, though you can see links to the box score of both games below.
Player of the Game: I’ll go with left fielder Dustin Ackley for the second day in a row as he continued his red-hot start by going 2-for-3 with a three-run double, a shot over the center fielder’s head in the fifth inning in Peoria. Ackley is hitting a tidy .600 (6-for-10) with three doubles, a home run and six RBIs in four Cactus League games.
Stat of the Game: Blake Beavan threw 41 pitches as the Mariners begin stretching out their starting candidates. Beavan went three innings and allowed one run on four hits, working his way out of trouble several times and not issuing any walks.
Storyline: Ackley and Robinson Cano did damage again, both going 2-for-3 before being replaced in the fifth inning. Cano’s performance is no surprise, but Ackley is looking like the guy the Mariners have been waiting on the past two years. Manager Lloyd McClendon says the key is to put him in one place and let him flourish and that place clearly is going to be left field. Abraham Almonte is getting a long look in center field and he made two nice catches out by the wall.
Worth noting: Corey Hart is supposed to be coming back slowly from his two microfracture knee surgeries, but the big man alertly stole home on a double steal when Xavier Avery drew a throw going to second and Hart motored home as the ball got away from the shortstop covering.
Quote of the Day: “No, they were still trying to revive me.” — McClendon on whether he had words for Hart after he went home on the double steal.
Next: Felix Hernandez makes his first Cactus League start on Tuesday as the Mariners travel to Glendale for a 12:05 p.m. PT duel with the Dodgers. Hernandez is preparing for his club-record seventh Opening Day start and this will be the first of his five spring games building up for that March 31 date in Anaheim. He’ll throw two innings, with Hector Noesi, Stephen Kohlscheen, James Gillheeney, Carson Smith, Logan Bawcom and Jonathan Arias to follow. The game will be televised live for MLB.TV subscribers and for free on a delayed basis at 1 p.m. PT on the MLB Network.
Here’s a feature I wrote on outfielder Xavier Avery, who is making a bid for a backup role this spring.