March 2012

Adam Moore suffers broken bone in wrist

Hard-luck catcher Adam Moore received another blow on Thursday when the Mariners discovered the 27-year-old has a broken right wrist, suffered when a ball in the dirt hit his throwing hand during Tuesday’s Cactus League game against the Reds.

Moore broke the third metacarpal on his upper wrist. He’s seeing a hand specialist this afternoon and further information on his status will be available then, but he’s almost sure to miss the rest of Spring Training.

Moore missed almost the entire 2011 season after injuring his right knee in his second regular-season game and undergoing surgery to repair a medial meniscus tear.

He was off to a hot start at the plate this spring, going 4-for-6 with a home run, double, three RBIs and four runs scored in three appearances. He stayed in the game after his injury, but discovered the broken bone when the wrist was X-rayed on Wednesday afternoon.

Moore talked Wednesday morning about both his good start at the plate and rough start behind it, as he was also hit in the left hand by a bat on a backswing on Monday. You can read that story here.

Moore was in a tough battle to earn a roster spot this year already after the Mariners traded for Jesus Montero and John Jaso over the offseason to work behind starter Miguel Olivo.

A sixth-round draft pick in 2006, Moore has been regarded as a top catching prospect and has hit .303 with a .482 slugging percentage in his Minor League career. He’s yet to convert that to success at the Major League level, playing 68 games over three seasons with the Mariners and hitting .197 with five home runs and 17 RBIs.

But the Texas native was playing well early this spring and this is a tough blow, as now he’ll have his hand in a cast and will presumably miss at least six weeks. We’ll know more later today.

The Mariners face the Cubs today at 12:05 p.m. PT in Mesa. Here’s the lineup:

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

Kevin Millwood RHP

The Mariners are also playing a ‘B’ game this morning at 9 a.m. PT against the Rockies in Scottsdale. Here’s the lineup for that one:

Brad Miller SS
John Jaso 1B
Vinnie Catricala 3B
Jesus Sucre C
Trayvon Robinson CF
Luis Jimenez DH
Johermyn Chavez RF
Chih-Hsien Chiang LF
Stephen Romero 2B

Hector Noesi RHP

And so it begins … here come the Angels

That fierce AL West rivalry that is the Mariners-Angels begins anew today as Seattle heads to Tempe to face, gulp, Jered Weaver on the mound in today’s Cactus League action.

Manager Eric Wedge is gearing up for the battle by bringing at least most of his main troops. The Chone Figgins center field experiment continues, so that will be worth watching as Figgins faces his former team.

And catcher Jesus Montero is back in the lineup after sitting out two days following a bout with what the youngster said this morning was a bout with the flu.

Here’s today’s full lineup for the 12:05 p.m. PT game, which will be on radio on a delayed basis at 7 p.m. tonight on 710 ESPN Seattle.

Chone Figgins CF
Dustin Ackley 2B
Kyle Seager 3B
Jesus Montero C
Mike Carp
Miguel Olivo DH
Michael Saunders RF
Brendan Ryan SS
Luis Rodriguez 1B

Blake Beavan RHP

The Mariners have also finalized their pitching plans through Saturday. It’ll be Kevin Millwood getting the start Thursday against the Cubs in Mesa, with Jason Vargas making his second Cactus League start Friday in Peoria vs. the D-backs.

Saturday is a split-squad day, with Hishashi Iwakuma starting the 12:05 p.m. PT game against the Dodgers in Peoria and young Erasmo Ramirez drawing the start in the 6:10 p.m. PT nightcap against Arizona at Salt River Fields.

Ramirez will be followed by Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton in that game as the four young pups are on display in their first official Cactus League action after all pitching in a ‘B’ game on Monday.

Former catcher Dan Wilson arrived in camp this morning, joining the growing list of former players who’ve dropped in to lend a hand and talk to the young players. Ken Griffey Jr. and Jay Buhner are also around.

Sadly, Edgar Martinez arrived on Monday but had to leave Tuesday after learning his father had died. Condolences to Edgar, one of the true gentlemen of the sport.

Carlos Guillen announces retirement

Three-time All-Star Carlos Guillen announced his retirement from baseball on Tuesday, deciding to hang it up after a brief shot in camp with the Mariners on a Minor League contract this spring.

Guillen, 36, struggled with his legs since reporting to the Mariners three weeks ago and had yet to play in a Cactus League game or any of the team’s four intrasquad contests this spring.

Guillen said his family wanted him to keep going, but he decided in the last few days that it was time to move on.

“It’s a tough decision,” he said. “I tried to come back, but I couldn’t. I’ve been through a lot of injuries. You have to keep your head up and be in the right position to keep going. But at this time, your body tells you, you know?

“It’s hard because you only make this decision one time in your career and in your life.”

Guillen played the last eight seasons for the Tigers, where he made the American League All-Star team in 2004, ’07 and ’08 and helped Detroit reach the World Series in 2006.

He began his career in Seattle from 1998-03 and the Mariners brought him back this season with the idea that he might provide a veteran bat who could compete at third base and provide a backup at first as well.

Chone Figgins and Kyle Seager have received the bulk of the work at third this spring, with Vinnie Catricala also getting a good look there after being named the club’s Minor League Player of the Year last season following a strong year in Class-A and Double-A.

Guillen hit .285 with 124 home runs and 660 RBIs in 1,305 games in his 14 seasons in the Majors. He appeared in six postseasons, batting .344 in 19 games.

His walk-off squeeze bunt single in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 3 at Safeco Field clinched the Mariners’ sweep of the 2000 AL Division Series against the White Sox.

“That was an exciting moment, one of the best of my career,” Guillen said. “Lou [Piniella] had a lot of confidence in myself and he told me he wanted me to hit a ground ball to first base. The first pitch I thought, well, maybe a deep fly ball would bring the winning run in. So I swung at the first pitch and he said, ‘Hey son, what did I tell you?’

“I said, ‘OK, OK.’ And I just thought if he throws me a fastball inside, it’s going to be hard to hit a groundball to first base,” he said. “So I had to find a way and I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll drag a bunt.’ Then the ball went through and we won the ball game. It was a great moment for me and fans in Seattle and everybody because when you win, you’re having fun.”

Fun with the kids at ‘B’ game in Goodyear

There’s always something cool about watching young prospects who are just starting out their careers, knowing some day you might be watching their maturation at the Major League level.

Without question, the Mariners are counting on Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker and Erasmo Ramirez to become part of their future, perhaps not too far down the road. Those are four quality pitching prospects and all were on display in Monday’s ‘B’ game against the Reds in Goodyear.

You can read my full account of their opening effort here on Mariners.com.

But I snapped some photos, too, so wanted to give you a look at the fearsome foursome. This first one is young Walker, the 19-year-old phenom who started the game.

Then came Hultzen. This is him walking out from the bullpen to the field at the Goodyear practice facility. It’s a little different than a regular-season game, since the pitchers warmed up in the practice ‘pen and then strolled across a couple sidewalks to their dugout.

Here’s Hultzen pitching. He’s an impressive lefty with an interesting and deceptive delivery. And he was bringing the fastball at 93-94 mph today.

Then came Ramirez, the 21-year-old Nicaraguan who threw two perfect innings. He might be the least-heralded of the group and he’s not physically imposing at 5-foot-11, but the kid can pitch.

Finally came Paxton, who had the only rough outing of the group. But this was just one day and he’s a good one as well. In fact, a lot of folks think he might be the first of the group to get called up this season. We shall see.

Lots of lineups today for Mariners

Two games to follow today for Mariners fans, including a very interesting ‘B’ game this morning against the Reds featuring Seattle’s top four young pitching prospects.

That contest wil be at 9 a.m. PT in Goodyear at the Reds’ facility. Then the ‘A’ team goes at 12:05 p.m. PT in Peoria Stadium against the Padres in Seattle’s fourth Cactus League game.

Here are the lineups:

B game
Nick Franklin 2B
John Jaso 1B
Vinnie Catricala 3B
Mike Wilson LF
Luis Jimenez DH
Johermyn Chavez RF
Guillermo Quiroz C
Carlos Triuenfel SS
Darren Ford CF

Taijuan Walker RHP

Cactus League game
Dustin Ackley 2B
Brendan Ryan SS
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Justin Smoak 1B
Casper Wells LF
Kyle Seager 3B
Miguel Olivo C
Carlos Peguero DH
Michael Saunders CF

Hisashi Iwakuma P

Coming up this week, Felix Hernandez will make his Cactus League debut on Tuesday against the Reds in Peoria. Cincinnati is starting Mat Latos, acquired from the Padres this offseason, so that’ll be an interesting matchup.

Then it’s Blake Beavan starting Wednesday against the Angels in Tempe, wtih Charlie Furbush among the relievers.

Kevin Millwood will get his first Cactus League start on Thursday against the Cubs in Mesa, while Hector Noesi starts a ‘B’ game that morning against Colorado in Scottsdale.

 

Sherrill ready to return, plus today’s lineups

George Sherrill will make his first appearance in relief on Monday against the Padres in Peoria after being shut down early in camp with a sore elbow. (Greg Johns/MLB.com photo)

Pretty quiet Sunday morning in Peoria as the Mariners prepare for today’s Cactus League game with the Padres.

Talked to veteran lefty George Sherrill, who will be making his first live appearance tomorrow in relief of starter Hisashi Iwakuma. Sherrill was shut down early in camp after feeling some soreness in his throwing elbow, so he was the one pitcher who skipped all the intrasquad fun.

“It’s feeling pretty good,” he said. “I think it’s just over-use the last couple years. Over time you get older and stuff just starts happening and beating certain areas up, so you’ve just got to take a break sometimes and let it catch up and quiet down. So far it feels alright, so we’ll just try to build up strength and see how it goes.”

Sherrill figures to be an intregral part of the bullpen this year as a lefty specialist, something the club hasn’t had the last few seasons. So it’ll be important to get him healthy and ready. He says it helps that the Mariners started camp so early due to the Japan trip, so there’s plenty of time to get him tuned up if the elbow doesn’t flare up again.

Jason Vargas gets the start in today’s game in front of a mix-and-match lineup as Eric Wedge continues looking at players in different roles in the early going.

Chone Figgins will get the start in center field as the club wants to see if he’s a viable replacement there for the injured Franklin Gutierrez. Figgins played some center field for the Angels, starting 213 games in his career at that spot, but hasn’t been there in a regular-season game since 2006.

Here is today’s full lineup for the 12:05 p.m. PT game, which will be broadcast live on 710 ESPN Seattle:

Chone Figgins CF
Munenori Kawasaki SS
Kyle Seager 3B
Mike Carp 1B
Jesus Montero DH
John Jaso C
Luis Rodriguez 2B
Trayvon Robinson LF
Chih-Hsien Chiang RF

Jason Vargas P

Gutierrez optimistic despite latest setback

Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez was back at camp on Saturday for the first time since suffering a partial tear in his pectoral muscle and sounded optimistic about a relatively quick return once he’s allowed to resume baseball activities.

Gutierrez won’t be allowed to swing a bat or throw for at least a month, but says he’ll continue running and working in the gym to maintain strength and is just glad he didn’t need surgery. He’ll likely need at least six weeks or so to be back in baseball shape, which would mean missing at least the first few weeks of hte regular season.

“It’s not easy, man,” he said. “Obviously you don’t want to get injured, but that’s something you cannot control. You try to do your best out there and it’s just one of those things that happen. I have to move forward and try to get better and be ready to help my team out at any point.

“I’m not frustrated right now. I’m trying to keep my mind positive and that can happen to anybody. I’m just focused on getting better.”

Gutierrez said he felt a sharp pain, like a pulled muscle, while throwing the ball into the infield at the start of Tuesday’s workout.

“My first throw I felt something pop or strain,” he said. “It was a weird feeling I’d never felt before. I tried doing a second throw, but I couldn’t do it. So I just stopped.”

When he was flying back to Seattle to have tests on the injury, he expected to learn he’d need surgery and possibly miss most of the season. So it was a relief to learn the tendon wasn’t fully detached and would be allowed to heal on its own.

He’ll keep his right arm in a sling until Tuesday or Wednesday and then begin doing rehab exercises. After coming to camp in excellent shape following a difficult year and a half when he was dealing with digestive issues, Gutierrez said he’s not going to let this setback get him down.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “When I got here I was very excited and I still have the same approach in my mind. I’m not going to let this thing hold me back. Obviously it’ll hold me back for a couple weeks. But mentally I feel great. I know I’m going to get better.”

Montero says he’s fine, plus lineups and notes

Jesus Montero was back at work Saturday, saying he’s no worse for the wear after taking a pair of hard foul balls off his chin in the fifth inning of his Cactus League debut with the Mariners on Friday.

Montero, the 22-year-old catcher acquired from the Yankees in the Michael Pineda trade, was removed from the game after the second ball clipped him in virtually the same spot on back-to-back pitches.

“I’m fine now. It hit me right here,” Montero said, pointing to the tip of his chin. “The manager said, ‘You’re not going to finish today because you did everything already and we’re going to protect you. We don’t want anything to happen to you. So I said, ‘OK.’ Nothing happened though, thank God. Everything is good.”

Montero had hit a home run in the top of that inning on a blast to deep right-center field. In his first at-bat, he drove a ball to the warning track in center and he reached base on an error and scored in the fourth.

“I got some pretty good at-bats yesterday,” he said. “I hit the ball hard. That’s what I was looking for. And at the end, I got a home run. That was a good pitch to hit and I hit it out.”

Montero isn’t scheduled to play in today’s rematch against the A’s at Peoria Stadium, as Eric Wedge is going with almost an entirely different lineup after playing a lot of backups on Friday. In fact, today’s group looks largely like what might be used when the regular-season opens, outside of Carlos Peguero at DH where Montero likely will slot in.

Hector Noesi, acquired along with Montero from the Yankees, makes his first start on the mound in the 12:05 p.m. MT/1:05 p.m. PT start, which will be on ESPN 710 Seattle radio.

Jason Vargas gets the start Sunday and Hisashi Iwakuma debuts Monday, both games against the Padres in Peoria.

Felix Hernandez, who will be the Opening Day starter, then makes his Cactus League debut on Tuesday against the Reds in Peoria.

Veteran left-handed reliever George Sherrill, who has been brought along slowly this spring, is scheduled to make his first appearance on Monday out of the bullpen.

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

Chone Figgins 3B
Dustin Ackley 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Justin Smoak 1B
Mike Carp LF
Miguel Olivo C
Carlos Peguero DH
Michael Saunders CF
Brendan Ryan SS

Hector Noesi RHP

Saunders could be in right spot to fill CF opening

One of the intriguing storylines of spring for the Mariners now will be who fills in for the injured Franklin Gutierrez in center field.

Michael Saunders appears the most logical replacement, if he can hit. That’s been a big ‘if’ for the past several years with Saunders, but he underwent an interesting offseason experiment to radically shorten and compact his hitting stroke and the results have been impressive so far with a home run, triple and double in three intrasquad games.

Saunders gets first crack at center field today when the Mariners face Oakland in their Cactus League opener. I talked to him this morning for a story that will appear later today on Mariners.com in which he explains his new approach and admits to being tired of “getting my butt kicked” the past few years by Major League pitchers.

Saunders knows he’s not going to get many more chances and he’s ready to grab this one by the horns. But he also took time to pay respects to Gutierrez, knowing all he’s gone through in the past two years as well.

“Obviously we all saw he’d worked his tail off to get to where he was at,” Saunders said, “especially after a tough year he had last year with health issues and everything. I know he was very excited to come in here and start playing ball the way he was used to again. It’s going to be a huge loss for us, because we’re all looking for him to have a big year.

“It’s going to be hard to replace a guy like that. I’m just going to go out and play hard every day and continue to try to hit the ball and square it up. Someone has to fill in and obviously I hope to be that guy.”

The Mariners have other candidates, with Casper Wells, Trayvon Robinson and even Chone Figgins figuring to get opportunities in center this spring. But if Saunders really has discovered a way to shorten his swing and be more productive at the plate, he could be the perfect answer to who can fill in for Gutierrez as he recovers from his partially torn pectoral muscle.

Here’s today’s lineup for Cactus League opener

The Mariners open Cactus League play today against the A’s, but Eric Wedge isn’t trotting out many of his normal starters.

Jesus Montero gets the start at catcher and it’s interesting to see Michael Saunders listed in center field, but for the most part it’s a group of backups that’ll take the field at 12:05 p.m. PT in Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

Here’s the full lineup:

Munenori Kawasaki SS
Kyle Seager 2B
Casper Wells LF
Jesus Montero C
Carlos Peguero RF
Vinnie Catricala DH
Alex Liddi 1B
Michael Saunders CF
Luis Rodriguez 2B

Blake Beavan P

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