Decision time looming for Mariners in last week

McClendonToday is the last split-squad day of spring for the Mariners, who will use road games against the A’s and Rockies to play pretty much all their position players and get another look at roster contenders Scott Baker and Roenis Elias.

There will only be five Cactus League games remaining after this busy Saturday, which also sees Taijuan Walker and Stephen Pryor throwing an inning each in a Minor League game against the Padres Triple-A team as they make their first live appearances of the spring. That game will be at 1 p.m. PT on the Padres main practice field at the Peoria Complex.

Manager Lloyd McClendon said there are still a few decisions left to be made when it comes to the final 25-man roster. He’s not one to divulge much there yet, but the final rotation spots beyond Felix Hernandez, Erasmo Ramirez and James Paxton seem still up in the air between Elias, Baker, Randy Wolf and Blake Beavan.

The final couple spots in the bullpen also are still to be determined, with veteran non-roster invitees Joe Beimel and Zach Miner competing with young guns Dominic Leone and Carson Smith and returnees Lucas Luetge and Hector Noesi. The seeming locks in the pen would be closer Fernando Rodney and set-up men Charlie Furbush, Tom Wilhelmsen, Danny Farquhar and Yoervis Medina, which leaves two openings.

Smith threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings in Friday night’s loss to the Padres and now has been unscored upon in 7 1/3 frames with four hits, two walks and 10 strikeouts. Those are hard-to-ignore numbers and you can add the 6-foot-6 right-hander’s name to the mix.

“He’s still here,” McClendon said. “Power arm … there’s a lot to like. He’s got nasty stuff. He’s starting to use his changeup a little more, I think he’s gaining confidence with every outing. Both of those young men, Smith and Leone, have thrown extremely well. I don’t know what’s going to happen. We’ll see.”

The Mariners have to officially name a starting shortstop, though Brad Miller has done everything imaginable on the field with a huge spring at the plate. McClendon continues playing Abraham Almonte in center field and the leadoff role and clearly wants to make that work with the speed and power tools Almonte brings to the table. Michael Saunders could play center as well, but he’s seeing most of the time in right field and will continue to do so unless Corey Hart can play there more than he has this spring.

“I think there is still a little decision making left to be made,” McClendon said Saturday morning. “It really has everything to do with the makeup of the club, the depth of the club as we move forward. When are we getting guys back that are injured? Those things come into play. There’ll be a lot of talking and discussing. And the performance of the players the last week will dictate some things as well. It’s unfortunate we don’t have that stamped lineup that we know is set, but it is what it is.”

Here are the lineups being rolled out today, with most of the starters lined up against the Rockies. That game will be replayed on ROOT Sports at 5 p.m. PT, with the Rockies broadcast crew calling the game. The A’s game will be carried live on 710 ESPN Seattle radio with Aaron Goldsmith and Mike Blowers calling the action, as Rick Rizzs has a rare day off.

AT ROCKIES (1:10 p.m.)
Abraham Almonte CF
Brad Miller SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Kyle Seager 3B
Mike Zunino DH
Justin Smoak 1B
Dustin Ackley LF
Cole Gillespie RF
Humberto Quintero C

Roenis Elias LHP

AT A’S (1:05 p.m.)
Endy Chavez CF
Nick Franklin SS
Stefen Romero LF
Logan Morrison 1B
Michael Saunders RF
D.J. Peterson 3B
Austin Wilson DH
Willie Bloomquist 2B
John Buck C

Scott Baker RHP

3 Comments

I am guessing Hart finds himself on the DL and doing some extended spring training with an injury rehab in the minors somewhere. He’s got a broken swing. I would like to see Romero get some time in RF. Almonte is a great idea at the top, but his job is to get on base, something he hasn’t quite been able to do yet.

Anyone know the status of Pittsburg and Houston’s search for a LH 1st baseman? I have a cup o LoMo to sell them. :)

Almonte needs to go to AAA and learn some fundamentals, like hitting, throwing to someplace other then the dugout and routes.

I agree about Almonte and Romero. Almonte has lots of tools, but needs some refinement. Romero seems a bit more polished with his play. Would love to see Romero get some extended playing time to see if it’s all clicking for him.

Noesi needs to go. Would love to have Carson Smith in the ‘pen.

Elias has earned a spot in the rotation. It would be pure veteran favorship if he didn’t make it. Besides, Elias is only holding the spot for Iwakuma and Walker until they are ready. The last spot in the rotation is a toss up with Baker, Wolf and Beavan. Not thrilled with these three options, but any one will do for the one month that is needed. If it were based on talent, I’d take Baker and keep in in long relief once both Walker and Iwakuma are healthy.

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