Big Unit drops in on Mariners camp

RandyJohnson.JPGRandy Johnson talks with Mariners trainer Rick Griffin on Thursday at the Mariners complex in Peoria. (Photo by Greg Johns)

Yeah, there was a tall left-hander in camp on Thursday. Randy Johnson came to Peoria to visit old friend Rick Griffin, the Mariners long-time trainer, and hung around long enough to see Felix Hernandez throw his simulated game.

The Mariners then went to Glendale and lost 6-1 to the White Sox in a game where Luke French looked good in his three innings of work and then talked about how he’d tossed out some offseason adjustments and just gone back to throwing the way he knows best.

French is one of several pitchers competing for spots at the back end of the rotation. If everybody stays healthy, including Erik Bedard and Michael Pineda, he’s probably destined for Tacoma or the bullpen.

The acquisition of Aaron Laffey on Wednesday makes things a little more interesting for French since Laffey is another lefty who the Mariners say will be focused on a relief role. With Garrett Olson as well, that’s a bit of a glut. But these things tend to work themselves out and if French continues pitching well, he’ll provide a nice option.

Laffey said he might pitch Friday, but Eric Wedge said after today’s game only that Laffey would pitch “sooner rather than later.”

There’s also some question on exactly when Felix Hernandez will make his Cactus League debut. Pitching coach Carl Willis indicated Thursday morning that Hernandez would open against Oakland, whom the Mariners face on Monday. But Hernandez indicated he might pitch another sim game first and word now is that it will be clarified tomorrow morning.

So stay tuned on that one.

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