Waiting on the sun — and Felix — in Peoria
Arrived in Peoria, Ariz., this afternoon and was greeted by … rain?
Yup, it looked a lot like Seattle today in the Valley of the Sun with temperatures in the mid-40s and a low tonight of 36. That’s not exactly Spring Training weather.
But the Mariners don’t actually hit the field until Wednesday, when it’s supposed to reach 64 degrees. And the rest of the week will be in the 70s, including an expected high of 77 on Saturday, so I’m sure we’ll survive.
As for actual baseball news, things were slow today as players continued trickling in for informal workouts. Pitchers and catchers report tomorrow, which essentially means they’re scheduled for physicals.
Felix Hernandez is in town, but didn’t come to the complex on Tuesday. He’ll have a physical tomorrow along with all the others and hopefully will talk to the media at some point as there obviously is high interest in his contract situation.
Chances are, Hernandez won’t say a whole lot about that until it’s a done deal, but we’ll see. Indications are that progress is continuing in negotiations and I’m not sensing a great deal of panic over the reports of a possible elbow issue arising in a physical exam he took last week as part of the process.
(UPDATE 6:45 p.m. PT: Just heard that Hernandez won’t be available to the media on Tuesday, so might not be until after Wednesday’s workout that we get a chance to chat with him).
As Jack Zduriencik told me yesterday, Hernandez has been working out as normal for the past month and is expected to participate fully as camp opens. If there were a serious health issue, obviously the Mariners wouldn’t allow that.
If tests showed enough wear and tear on the elbow to raise a caution flag for the long range, that might have led to some discussions of protective language in the contract. But every pitcher has potential risk of elbow and shoulder problems, particularly when they’ve thrown as many innings as Hernandez by age 26, and it doesn’t seem like there is any reason to think a deal won’t get done as expected in the coming days.
It could be a busy opening week for the Mariners as two other veteran pitchers — Joe Saunders and Jon Garland — are both expected to finalize contracts once they pass their physicals.
Saunders has agreed to a Major League deal paying $6.5 million, with an option for a second year. Garland, coming back from shoulder surgery, has agreed to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Major League camp.
If their deals get done in time, they’ll be among the 31 pitchers on the field Wednesday morning, including 12 non-roster invitees.
Elsewhere, the Indians came to an agreement with free agent center fielder Michael Bourn for four years at $48 million, with an option for a fifth year at another $12M. Thus ends any remaining speculation of the Mariners being in the Bourn mix, though that notion really ended when they signed Michael Morse and Raul Ibanez.
There’s only so many outfield spots to go around and the Mariners want Morse’s bat in the lineup and expect Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Saunders to fill everyday roles as well. Though the Mariners were mentioned in conjunction with Bourn throughout much of the offseason, that one never really seemed to have any legs.
Part of that was the reluctance to give up a first-round draft pick in compensation, since Seattle has the No. 12 pick. That reportedly kept the Mets out of contention in the end, with the Mets unwilling to give up the 11th pick.
Cleveland only loses the 69th overall pick because the Indians’ first-round pick (No. 5) was protected as one of the Top 10 selections under the new compensation system for free agents who received qualifying offers.
And the Indians had already given up their first allowable pick (No. 42 overall in the second round) as compensation for signing Nick Swisher.