Saturday’s lineups and upcoming pitching plans

Erasmo RamirezMugAfter playing four games in the past two days, the Mariners are taking it a little easier today with players given the morning off. That means guys will just show up at 11 a.m. and those playing today will head to Salt River Fields for the 1:05 p.m. PT game against the Rockies, while the others will do their work and head home.

Manager Eric Wedge indicated last night that things would start to get turned up a little in the coming days, however, in terms of getting to a more regular lineup and players being used back-to-back games and that sort of thing.

They made 11 cuts yesterday, bringing the roster down to 40, which is a more manageable number. Wedge said the plan is to get Franklin Gutierrez back in the lineup Sunday after he’s taken a week off from games after feeling some tightness in his legs.

WIth Guti still sidelined, Michael Saunders is leading off and playing center field today.

Here’s the full lineup:

Michael Saunders CF
Kyle Seager 3B
Kendrys Morales 1B
Michael Morse LF
Jesus Montero DH
Carlos Peguero RF
Jesus Sucre C
Nick Franklin 2B
Brendan Ryan SS

Erasmo Ramirez P

These will be interesting days for the starting pitchers as well. Ramirez (pictured) has been very good so far this spring and he’ll go today, with Blake Beavan throwing tomorrow against the Rangers. Then it’ll be Hisashi Iwakuma on Monday against the A’s in Phoenix, with young Brandon Maurer starting Tuesday’s night game against Barry Zito and the Giants in Peoria.

We saw both Jeremy Bonderman and Jon Garland throw yesterday, with Bonderman turning in a solid outing and Garland having his first rough go. Both those guys seem to have a chance to land one of the final rotation spots. But if even one does, that leaves just one spot for Beavan, Ramirez and Maurer.

So, yeah, these upcoming starts will be closely watched. Maurer has done everything right so far, but he has never pitched above Double-A ball so it still seems likely he’ll at least begin the season in Tacoma. But he’s still here for a reason, so we’ll see.

The one guy missing from the Cactus League rotation there is Felix Hernandez. He’s scheduled to throw Sunday, but will go in a Minor League game at 1 p.m. on one of the backfields at the Peoria Sports Complex instead of facing the AL West-rival Rangers. Pretty typical for how Hernandez has been used in past springs. No use overexposing him to teams that see him several times in the regular season.

He’ll have two more Cactus League starts after that and then be ready for Opening Day. And yeah, Opening Day is now just 16 days away. A long spring is starting to turn toward the home stretch.

On the broadcast front, Sunday’s game against the Rangers is the Mariners’ next televised contest, with
ROOT Sports broadcasting live at 1:05 p.m. PT. There will also be TV coverage this coming week against the Giants on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. PT, the Cubs on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. PT and the Indians next Saturday at 1:05 p.m. PT.

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