March 2012

Today’s lineup, plus latest pitching and health news

We’ve seen a little weather this morning in Peoria, with heavy rain earlier in the day and a little hail around 11 a.m. But as of now, it’s still game on between the Mariners and Rockies at Peoria Stadium at 1:05 p.m.

Assuming they do go, the Mariners will trot out this lineup:

Chone Figgins SS
Munenori Kawasaki 2B
Ichiro Suzuki DH
Mike Carp 1B
Casper Wells CF
Kyle Seager 3B
Carlos Peguero LF
Mike Wilson RF
John Jaso C

Hector Noesi RHP

Today’s game is on ROOT Sports. You won’t be seeing shortstop Brendan Ryan again as he sits out for a fourth straight day since feeling some tightness in his quadricep. Ryan says he’s working in the pool and feeling fine, but the team wants to be cautious at this point.

Catcher Jesus Montero is also sidelined for a second straight day after not feeling well Saturday. He’s back in the clubhouse and feeling fine, but not in the lineup.

The team departs Thursday for Tokyo, so these games are the last preparation for pitchers. Jason Vargas will make his last Cactus League start on Monday against the Cubs in Peoria, with Kevin Millwood starting Tuesday at the Reds in Goodyear. Erasmo Ramirez is scheduled to pitch relief in that game.

Felix Hernandez will then make his final outing Wednesday against the White Sox in Peoria.

Trayvon Robinson among 7 players sent to Minors

Travyon Robinson was optioned to the Minor Leagues on Saturday. (Greg Johns/MLB.com)

The Mariners moved seven players to their Minor League camp today, including young outfielder Trayvon Robinson.

The 24-year-old Robinson was the only position player sent down, joining six pitchers who were re-assigned to the Minor League camp.

The pitchers were left-handers Sean Henn and Oliver Perez and right-hander Matt Fox, Aaron Heilman, Josh Kinney and Jeff Marquez.

The roster moves leave the Mariners with 40 players in camp. That number must be reduced to 30 by the time the club head to Japan on Thursday.

Robinson’s departure leaves seven  outfielders in camp, including the injured Franklin Gutierrez as well as Mike Carp, Carlos Peguero, Michael Saunders, Ichiro Suzuki, Casper Wells and non-roster invitee Mike Wilson.

Robinson was acquired from the Dodgers in the deadline deal for Erik Bedard last July and hit .210 in 44 games in the final two months of the season. He hit well in Cactus League play this spring, but was behind Saunders and Wells in the pecking order to fill in for Gutierrez. Mike Carp has solidified his position as the starting left fielder, with Saunders and Wells capable of backing up there as well.

Today’s lineup vs. White Sox

I’m back in action after a couple days off. The Mariners? They haven’t skipped a day yet. Here’s today’s lineup vs. White Sox at Glendale (1:05 p.m.):

Dustin Ackley 2B
Michael Saunders CF
Miguel Olivo C
Justin Smoak 1B
Alex Liddi 3B
Carlos Peguero LF
Vinnie Catricala DH
Mike Wilson RF
Brad Miller SS

Blake Beavan RHP

 

Felix, Iwakuma both to pitch on Friday

The Mariners have a busy schedule the next few days with an added ‘B’ game on Thursday and a split-squad Friday, so that gives more pitchers a chance to get innings as the calendar closes in on the March 22 departure to Japan.

Felix Hernandez will start Friday afternoon against the Brewers in Tucson in his second-to-last start of the spring. That sets him up to likely pitch again  on Wednesday, March 21 against the White Sox in Peoria the day before the team flies to Tokyo, where he’ll start the regulr-season opener on March 28.

Hisashi Iwakuma will start the other game Friday, a night contest against Oakland in Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

Hector Noesi is on the mound today when the Mariners travel to Maryvale to face the Brewers, who are throwing Zack Greinke in the 1:05 p.m. game.

Kevin Millwood goes on Wednesday night against the Royals at Peoria, with Jason Vargas throwing in a Minor League game that day. Then young Erasmo Ramirez makes his second start on Thursday night against the Giants in Peoria. Both the Wednesday and Thursday games will be televised by ROOT Sports live at 7:05 p.m.

Here is today’s full lineup vs. the Brewers:

Dustin Ackley 2B
Casper Wells RF
Mike Carp LF
Justin Smoak 1B
Jesus Montero C
Carlos Peguero DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Michael Saunders CF
Munenori Kawasaki SS

Hector Noesi RHP

Thinning clubhouse, pitching plans and today’s lineup

A lot less crowded in the clubhouse this morning after 15 players were sent packing to the Minor League side on Sunday. In the Mariners world, once players are cut they not only send the player to the adjacent Minor League clubhouse, they physically remove the big wooden locker and take it away.

Yesterday morning, clubhouse workers were packing out the lockers literally as players were being informed of their departure. It always makes for a tough day as its no fun seeing guys dreams get shattered, even when it’s usually pretty clear ahead of time which players are going to be the early cuts.

As spring proceeds, the numbers grow smaller and smaller until the final 25 remain. The Mariners still have some work to do, with 42 in camp. They’ll take 30 to Japan on March 22.

Meanwhile, here’s today’s lineup vs. the Rangers (1:05 p.m. in Peoria):

Chone Figgins CF
Brendan Ryan SS
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Jesus Montero C
Mike Carp LF
Miguel Olivo C
Alex Liddi 1B
Vinnie Catricala 3B
Munenori Kawasaki 2B

Blake Beavan RHP

It’ll be interesting to watch how the pitching plays out in these last couple weeks. Beavan is certainly in the mix for one of the final three rotation spots behind Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas. But Hector Noesi, Hisashi Iwakuma and now Erasmo Ramirez also are contending for those spots as well.

Noesi will start Tuesday’s Cactus League game against the Brewers in Maryvale, with Millwood going Wednesday night against the Royals in Peoria. Vargas will throw in a Minor League game Wednesday to keep him on schedule, but the club obviously wants to see more of Millwood to figure out where he’s at this spring at 37.

Then Ramirez will start on Thursday night against the Giants in Peoria, which will also be worth watching. He is the one young prospect the Mariners chose to keep in camp and manager Eric Wedge said yesterday he’s “in the mix” for a rotation or bullpen role.

Everyone wants to know why Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker got sent down Sunday, but it’s a pretty simple matter. None of those youngsters were going to make the big club out of spring and they need to get more innings to get stretched out. They were only able to throw one or two innings while pitching en masse, so they’ll be spread out now and allowed to get ready in Minor League games so they’ll be ready to go when the season starts.

After that, we’ll see how they do in the coming months. Getting sent down now doesn’t mean they can’t be brought back at some point during the season.

Hultzen, Walker, Paxton among 15 sent to Minors

The Mariners made their first big round of roster cuts on Sunday and top young pitching prospects Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton were among the 15 players optioned or re-assigned to Minor League camp.

Also sent to the Minor League camp were: pitchers Yoervis Medina, Forrest Snow, Mauricio Robles, Scott Patterson; infielders Nick Franklin, Carlos Triunfel and Francisco Martinez; outfielders Johermyn Chavez, Chih-Hsien Chiang and Darren Ford; catcher Ralph Henriquez and designated hitter Luis Jimenez.

The moves leave the Mariners with 47 players remaining in Major League camp.

Hultzen, Walker and Paxton were outstanding in their Cactus League debut on Saturday night against the D-backs, combining with fellow rookie prospect Erasmo Ramirez to throw eight innings of one-run ball with just four hits between them.

“It was hard to not sit there with a big smile on your face,” said Mariners pitching coach Carl Willis.

But the youngsters need time to develop and the Mariners will let them continue to grow, at least for the start of this season, in the Minor Leagues.

Most of the players sent down Sunday are youngsters who got good looks early in camp, but the club needs to begin paring down its roster in advance of traveling to Japan on March 22-30 for the season-opening two-game series with the A’s.

Willis knows it’s just a matter of time before the three young standouts get their opportunity in the Majors. He said Saturday night’s Cactus League debuts were a good indicator of how the youngsters might handle their eventual progression.

“We saw good things in the ‘B’ game against Cincinnati [earlier in the week],” Willis said. “But to see them go out in that atmosphere [against Arizona] and almost step it up a notch, but yet be very much under control, it speaks a lot. Because they’re going to have another first time one of these days and it’s a bit of an indication of how they’re going to handle it.”

Lining up in the pitching rotation, plus today’s lineups

With all the talk of needing to get the pitching rotation set by the time the Mariners travel to Japan, in reality the club just has to get top-two starters Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas tuned up by March 28-29. Those same two will presumably pitch again in the first two games back in Oakland on April 6-7, so it won’t be until April 9-12 in Texas that the final three rotation spots come into play.

And the Mariners might need that time to sort out the bottom end of the rotation, where Hisashi Iwakuma has only thrown one inning so far in his Cactus League debut and remains a big question mark. Blake Beavan appears to be solidifying a spot with a good spring so far, Hector Noesi has looked good in a Cactus League start and a ‘B’ game and Kevin Millwood threw pretty well in a three-inning outing against the Cubs on Thursday.

So Iwakuma’s start today against the Dodgers will be watched closely by the Mariners. He goes in the afternoon game at 12:05 p.m. PT, with the four young pups — Erasmo Ramirez, Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton — slated to go tonight at 6:05 p.m. against the D-backs at Salt River Fields.

Given that all four are scheduled to pitch, the prospects likely will only throw two innings each. Realistically, they don’t figure in the immediate starting plans for the Major League club, but instead will likely open in the Minor Leagues. But they are forming impressions and it won’t be surprising if one or two find their way to the big club at some point this season.

Hernandez makes his next start Sunday at Scottsdale against the Giants and Beavan comes back Monday in Peoria against his former Rangers club. Tuesday’s starter against the Brewers hasn’t been scheduled yet, so it’ll be interesting to see if that goes to Millwood or Noesi, who both pitched five days earlier.

UPDATE 12:14 p.m.: The Mariners have announced that Noesi will start Tuesday’s game.

Here are today’s full lineups:

12:05 p.m. PT vs. Dodgers
Chone Figgins SS
Dustin Ackley 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Justin Smoak 1B
Kyle Seager 3B
Miguel Olivo C
Michael Saunders CF
Casper Wells DH
Chih-Hsien Chiang LF

Hisashi Iwakuma RHP

6:05 p.m. vs. D-backs
Munenori Kawasaki 2B
Brendan Ryan SS
Mike Carp 1B
Jesus Montero C
Vinnie Catricala 3B
Mike Wilson RF
Luis Jimenez DH
Joherymn Chavez LF
Darren Ford CF

Erasmo Ramirez RHP

Three pitchers cut, plus today’s lineup

 

Philipe Valiquette was among three pitchers re-assigned to the Minor League camp on Friday. (Greg Johns/MLB.com)

With so many players in camp, it’s only a matter of time before the cuts start coming. And the Mariners moved three pitchers today, re-assigning left-handers Steve Garrison and Philippe Valiquette and right-hander Jarrett Grube to Minor League camp.

The club had already assigned right-hander Stephen Pryor to Minor League camp when he returned from a week-long leave to deal with a family situation.

Along with the retirement of Carlos Guillen, the original 67-man roster now is down to 62. That includes 40 roster players and 22 non-roster invitees.

Expect more cuts to come in the next few days. The Mariners have a split-squad day Saturday and need extra players there, but presumably will thin the herd a bit after that in order to begin giving the regulars more playing time as the season approaches.

Here’s the lineup for today’s 12:05 p.m. PT game against the D-backs in Peoria Stadium:

Chone Figgins 3B
Brendan Ryan SS
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Mike Carp LF
Casper Wells CF
Carlos Peguero DH
Alex Liddi 1B
John Jaso C
Munenori Kawasaki 2B

Jason Vargas LHP

Peguero and his big bat continue getting a long look and Wells is back in center field today, where the audition to fill in for Franklin Gutierrez continues playing out. And Kawasaki is certainly getting a chance to show what he can do, with Eric Wedge talking yesterday about how he can help the club with his situational hitting ability and baseball smarts.

Optimistic Moore says injury just ‘a bump in the road’

Adam Moore, shown here working with reliever Shawn Camp, will likely miss about a month after breaking a bone in the back of his right hand. (Greg Johns/MLB.com)

Adam Moore was back at Mariners camp on Friday wearing a splint on his injured right hand. But the 27-year-old catcher says the broken bone in the back of his hand isn’t as serious as originally feared and he’s hopeful of returning soon after the brace comes off in two weeks.

Moore might be overly optimistic with his estimate of a 2-4 week absence, but he doesn’t intend to let this latest setback derail his comeback after missing all of last season with knee surgery.

“It’s tough. But the way I look at it, it’s a bump in the road,” Moore said. “Nothing is going to hold me back. I’m going to continue to battle back, like I’ve always done. Nothing is holding me back. I’m going to come back ready to go, like I haven’t missed any time.”

Moore said he actually suffered the injury in the bullpen before Tuesday’s game when he went to block a ball in the dirt by Brandon League.

“My hand got caught (at my side) and it hit me square up,” he said. “I didn’t say anything and then went to BP and started hitting. It was a little tight, but nothing where I could bear it.

“Then I went to the game and it tightened up more, but I didn’t say anything and I was praying to God that icing it and whatever would be fine. I woke up that next morning and went to the cage to start hitting and that’s when I knew something was wrong.”

Moore hit a double in the game and was off to a hot start this spring, going 4-for-6 with a home run and three RBIs in three appearances.

Moore will be able to continue working out while his hand heals and will continue all baseball activities except hitting and throwing, even being allowed to catch bullpens while keeping his right hand behind him.

Noesi gives up one run in 3 innings in ‘B’ squad win

Hector Noesi gave up two hits and one run in three innings of work Thursday as the Mariners beat the Rockies 7-3 in a ‘B’ game in Scottsdale.

Noesi, acquired from the Yankees in the Michael Pineda-Jesus Montero trade, is vying for a spot in the Mariners rotation and pitched two scoreless innings in his Cactus League debut last Saturday against the A’s.

Left-handed veteran Oliver Perez, a non-roster invitee, picked up the win after allowing one run in two innings. Right-handed reliever Steve Delabar struck out all three batters he faced in his inning of work.

Outfielder Trayvon Robinson hit a two-run home run for the Mariners and finished with three RBIs on a 1-for-5 day.

Catcher Jesus Sucre and shortstop Brad Miller each went 2-for-3 with a double, with Sucre totaling three RBIs.  John Jaso also went 2-for-3 while playing first base, while designated hitter Luis Jimenez and outfielder Guillermo Pimental each hit triples.

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