Bullpen day as relievers get tested today vs. Rangers

The Mariners are having starter Doug Fister throw in a Minor League game against the Padres today at 1 p.m. on a practice field in Peoria, both to let the big right-hander have a bit of a less-stressful outing in midcamp and also to get a better look at some bullpen candidates.

Fister has been on a different program from Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas, who both were brought along slowly at the start of spring. Fister was in the rotation from the opening of Cactus League play and pitching coach Carl Willis said he wanted to dial things back for him in mid-camp before gearing up for the season.

Equally important is the chance to see what a couple new relievers can do against the Rangers starting lineup rather than just late-inning mopup duty. Little lefty Fabio Castro gets the start in today’s 1:05 p.m. game at Surprise and is expected to throw two innings.

Tom Wilhelmsen, another surprising candidate, will follow him and we’ll also see Chris Ray, who is the one legitimate closer challenger for Brandon League. Also set to pitch today are Cesar Jimenez, Justin Miller and Royce Ring. So keep an eye on how things go there as an unsettled bullpen starts to sort itself out.

The Rangers will give a good look as they’re starting their “A” team, with Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Michael Young, Nelson Cruz and David Murphy all in the lineup.

As for the Mariners, Franklin Gutierrez is back in center after taking two days to recover from lower back stiffness. Jack Wilson will start at shortstop after missing his last start due to a personal issue.

Here’s today’s full lineup:

Jack Wilson SS
Brendan Ryan 2B
Franklin Gutierrez CF
Jack Cust DH
Justin Smoak 1B
Ryan Langerhans RF
Luis Rodriguez 3B
Michael Saunders LF
Adam Moore C

Fabio Castro LHP

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