Should be a very busy day for Mariners
Official word doesn’t figure to come until this afternoon, but it looks like today will bring some significant changes to the Mariners makeup, with a roster shakeup likely involving four players coming and four others going.
Two of the roster moves are health-related. Rookie reliever Stephen Pryor is having an MRI today on his groin muscle after pulling up when he hit the first-base bag in the ninth inning of last night’s 5-4 loss to the Padres and is a likely DL candidate. That’s an unfortunate one as Pryor was hitting 97 on the radar gun and looking strong again in his sixth MLB appearance.
Left fielder Mike Carp also appears headed back to the DL after his right shoulder flared up again in recent days. That’s the shoulder Carp hurt in the season opener in Tokyo and caused him to miss 23 games already this season.
But two other healthy Mariners — utility man Alex Liddi and starting pitcher Blake Beavan — were packing bags and saying goodbyes after last night’s game and appear headed back to Tacoma. Both are young (23) with options. Liddi just needs more playing time and at-bats. If he’s going to be an outfield candidate, he needs a chance to play there in less-pressured situations than in the Majors. So it’ll be interesting to see if the Mariners play him at third base or in left field in Triple-A.
Beavan is another story. He had a rotation spot secured and got off to a nice start this year, but has struggled recently. Beavan is all about fastball command. He’s a strike thrower who has one of the lowest walk rates in baseball, but hitters know he’ll be around the zone and if he’s not pin-point accurate, they’ll take advantage of that until he further develops a changeup to keep good hitters from sitting on his fastball.
It’s not the end of the world, getting sent to Tacoma, though surely it’s not fun after you’ve been in the big leagues for a bit.
But plenty of guys go down, work on things and and then come back, which will be the case with several today. If Pryor does need to go on the DL, Steve Delabar seems the logical choice to be recalled to take his place. And Casper Wells likely will be back as well to provide a right-handed bat and capable outfield defense, which has been a problem recently with Chone Figgins and Liddi being asked to play left field.
But the biggest changes figure to be the long-awaited arrival of center fielder Franklin Gutierrez as well as the promotion of rookie right-hander Erasmo Ramirez. Gutierrez is finally healthy and I’d expect him to retake his center field spot at least on a part-time basis as he works his way back in, which would allow red-hot Michael Saunders to play left field when he’s not splitting time with Guti in center.
And Ramirez figures to slide into Beavan’s spot in the rotation, perhaps as soon as Thursday night if Kevin Millwood isn’t quite ready to return from his strained groin muscle.
None of that is official yet and the Mariners always wait until players actually arrive before making announcements, just in case something goes awry. But the tea leaves weren’t hard to read last night as guys were packing bags, with logical replacements waiting in the wings and Ramirez’s scheduled Wednesday start for the Rainiers canceled.
So we’ll see what happens this afternoon and then hear from manager Eric Wedge before tonight’s game as to his exact plans on what the roster moves mean in terms of playing time and rotation slots. So stay tuned.