Wednesday’s Game 8 recap: Indians 8, Mariners 5

Seattle Mariners v San Diego PadresPlayer of the Game: Young left-hander James Paxton continued his strong spring with three scoreless innings as he’s looking more and more like a lock for the opening rotation. Paxton allowed just two hits with no walks and a strikeout, continuing the impressive run he began last September when he was outstanding in four starts as a late-season callup.

Stat of the Game: Three errors and two unearned runs only told part of the story as the Mariners got sloppy in the late going and had trouble in the outfield on a sunny afternoon in Peoria.

Storyline: The Mariners put up four runs off four hits in the first off Triple-A pitcher Travis Banwart … then didn’t manage another hit all afternoon. Paxton pitched well and Abraham Almonte hit a leadoff home run that was quickly followed by a Kyle Seager double, a Robinson Cano single and eventually a two-run single by Nick Franklin that made it 4-0. But once the first inning flurry subsided, the bats shut down and the gloves didn’t help much either.

Worth noting: Lucas Luetge gave up four runs (three earned) on three hits and a walk in 1 2/3 innings to let Cleveland back in the game in the seventh. Luetge normally is a situational lefty and he had a 1-2-3 sixth, but got into trouble when he was brought back out for a second frame and tired as he was stretched out to 34 pitches. Danny Farquhar also got tagged for three runs (two earned) while getting just one out in the ninth, but he wasn’t helped by a dropped fly ball by right fielder Xavier Avery and then a throwing error by catcher Humberto Quintero.

Quote of the Day: “We didn’t execute very well at the end of the game. Those are the things that are going to happen in Spring Training. We’ve talked about it, we’ll address them tomorrow and we’ll work on it.” — McClendon on the late-inning defensive mistakes.

Next: Veteran right-hander Scott  Baker gets his second start of the spring on Thursday as the Mariners travel to Glendale for a 12:05 p.m. PT game with the White Sox. Baker, 32, threw two scoreless innings with one hit in his debut against the Angels on Saturday and is making a strong bid for a rotation spot as a non-roster invitee. Closer Fernando Rodney is slated to make his first spring appearance in relief, with Roenis Elias, Tom Wilhelmsen, Zach Miner and Logan Bawcom also scheduled for an inning. The live radio broadcast of the game is available for free on Gameday Audio on Mariners.com.

Here’s today’s boxscore.

Here’s my feature story today on catcher Mike Zunino and his importance this year on the offensive end as well as behind the plate.

Here’s the list of 13 players cut this morning as the Mariners made their first roster trim of the spring.

And here’s the rest of news from camp in today’s notebook.

Mariners make first cuts of camp

With Minor League camp opening Wednesday, the Mariners cut 13 players from their Major League camp as they began the process of weeding down to an eventual 25-man roster.

The Mariners opened with a club-record 68 players, so they still have 55 in camp. Wednesday’s moves included three involving players on the 40-man roster, with injured left-hander Danny Hultzen optioned to Triple-A Tacoma and outfielder Julio Morban and left-hander Anthony Fernandez optioned to Double-A Jackson.

Hultzen, one of the club’s top prospects, will not play at all this season as he’s rehabbing from rotator cuff surgery. Morban, 22, also is on the injury mend as he’s recovering from a broken ankle that occurred at in late August while he was playing for Jackson.

The 10 other players were non-roster invitees, so they were re-assigned to Minor League camp. That group included four position players – catchers John Hicks and Manuel Pina, infielder Gabriel Noriega and outfielder Burt Reynolds, who is the cousin of second baseman Robinson Cano.

Also re-assigned were right-handed pitchers Jonathan Arias, Andrew Carraway, Stephen Kohlscheen, Mark Rogers and Chance Ruffin and left-hander James Gillheeney.

The Mariners now have 37 roster players and 18 non-roster invitees remaining in camp.

Here’s the Mariners’ 40-man roster and this is the list of non-roster players who were invited to camp.

Tuesday’s Game 7 recap: Mariners 4, Dodgers 1

Zunino, MikePlayer of the Game: Catcher Mike Zunino ripped a pair of doubles in his two at-bats in the third and fourth innings as the youngster continued his strong start to spring. Zunino could help provide a needed right-handed bat this year if he can carry things over to the regular season. The 22-year-old has gone 4-for-7 (.571) with three doubles in his first four Cactus League games.

Stat of the Game: The Mariners have now outscored their opponents 45-18 while going 6-1 out of the gate and their 1.80 pitching ERA is the lowest of any of the 30 Major League teams so far this spring.

Storyline: Felix Hernandez made his Cactus League debut and threw two scoreless frames, though he wasn’t particularly happy afterward. Hernandez gave up two hits – including a leadoff double on the first pitch of the game to Yasiel Puig – and said his  normally-potent changeup was “garbage.” In other words, it was the first outing of spring and Hernandez has some things to work on in his remaining four spring starts before Opening Day in Anaheim on March 31.

Worth noting: Kyle Seager returned to action after sitting out the previous four days with a jammed index finger on his right hand that occurred when he slid headfirst into third in the first inning of the first spring game. Seager went 1-for-4 with an RBI.

Quote of the Day: “He’s been working on his trigger all spring and it just goes to show you what kind of talent he has. I think he’s in the process of putting it all together and he should be an enjoyable young man to watch this summer.” — McClendon on Zunino’s batting approach.

Next: Young left-hander James Paxton makes his second start of the spring on Wednesday when the Mariners host the Indians in a 12:05 p.m. PT game in Peoria. Paxton threw two perfect innings in his debut against the Padres and is making a strong bid to earn a rotation berth after shining in four starts last season as a September call-up. He’ll likely go three innings, with Brandon Maurer then making his first appearance of the spring after dealing with a stiff back. Lucas Luetge, Joe Beimel, Danny Farquhar and Bobby LaFromboise are also scheduled to pitch.

Here’s today’s boxscore.

Here’s a story I wrote this morning on Dustin Ackley and his outstanding start to spring.

Here’s today’s notebook with all the news from camp.

And you can watch video of Felix’s performance by clicking here:

Felix gets first start today … as does Ketel Marte

Felix Hernandez makes his Cactus League debut in Glendale this afternoon against a pretty interesting Dodgers lineup. You’ve got Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier at the top. And, yep, former Mariner Chone Figgins batting ninth and playing second base.

Felix is only slated for two innings, so if all goes well he won’t even get to Figgins. But we’ll see how things roll.

After Monday’s split-squad day, the Mariners are going with quite a few backups today, including Minor League callup Ketel Marte, a 20-year-old second baseman who hit .304 at Class-A Clinton last year.

“Our guys have been going at it hard and a lot of those guys have played two or three days in a row,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “We still have a long way to go. We have to be smart about how we do this and make sure they’re fresh and building toward the season. So we want to keep their legs fresh. I thought it was a good day to kind of refresh them a little bit.”

As for Marte, who was one of a large group of Minor Leaguers who also saw a little time in Monday’s split-squad game against the Rockies?

“I think it’s good when you can bring kids over from the Minor League camp and give them a shot in the arm,” McClendon said. “It’s good for the organization and he’s a talented young man that deserves an opportunity to get a look. I wouldn’t read too much into it, but I think it’s good for the organization when you can do that.”

McClendon said he was very impressed with all the youngsters he saw Monday.

“I think it speaks volumes about our organization as a whole and what we’ve got coming,” he said. “Any time you can reward those kids with a little big-league play, it’s a shot in the arm.”

Here’s the lineup that will start out against Dodgers reliever Brian Wilson, who is getting the start today.

Mariners
Brad Miller SS
Kyle Seager 3B
Stefen Romero LF
Justin Smoak 1B
Logan Morrison DH
Cole Gillespie RF
James Jones CF
MIke Zunino C
Ketel Marte 2B

Felix Hernandez RHP

The 12:05 p.m. PT game will not be on radio. It will be available live to MLB.TV subscribers, and also shown free on a slight delay on the MLB Network starting at 1 p.m. PT.

What does McClendon want to see out of Hernandez today?

“Just stay healthy and get his work in,” McClendon said. “Just get ready.”

Monday’s Game 5 recap: Mariners 8, Rockies 1

Ackley, Dustin 2The Mariners had a split-squad situation today, also winning 6-5 over the Reds in Goodyear. But I was in Peoria to see the Rockies, so I’ll stick with that, though you can see links to the box score of both games below.

Player of the Game: I’ll go with left fielder Dustin Ackley for the second day in a row as he continued his red-hot start by going 2-for-3 with a three-run double, a shot over the center fielder’s head in the fifth inning in Peoria. Ackley is hitting a tidy .600 (6-for-10) with three doubles, a home run and six RBIs in four Cactus League games.

Stat of the Game: Blake Beavan threw 41 pitches as the Mariners begin stretching out their starting candidates. Beavan went three innings and allowed one run on four hits, working his way out of trouble several times and not issuing any walks.

Storyline: Ackley and Robinson Cano did damage again, both going 2-for-3 before being replaced in the fifth inning. Cano’s performance is no surprise, but Ackley is looking like the guy the Mariners have been waiting on the past two years. Manager Lloyd McClendon says the key is to put him in one place and let him flourish and that place clearly is going to be left field. Abraham Almonte is getting a long look in center field and he made two nice catches out by the wall.

Worth noting: Corey Hart is supposed to be coming back slowly from his two microfracture knee surgeries, but the big man alertly stole home on a double steal when Xavier Avery drew a throw going to second and Hart motored home as the ball got away from the shortstop covering.

Quote of the Day: “No, they were still trying to revive me.” — McClendon on whether he had words for Hart after he went home on the double steal.

Next: Felix Hernandez makes his first Cactus League start on Tuesday as the Mariners travel to Glendale for a 12:05 p.m. PT duel with the Dodgers. Hernandez is preparing for his club-record seventh Opening Day start and this will be the first of his five spring games building up for that March 31 date in Anaheim. He’ll throw two innings, with Hector Noesi, Stephen Kohlscheen, James Gillheeney, Carson Smith, Logan Bawcom and Jonathan Arias to follow. The game will be televised live for MLB.TV subscribers and for free on a delayed basis at 1 p.m. PT on the MLB Network.

Everybody loves boxscores! Here’s the box from the 6-5 win over the Reds. And here’s the box from the 8-1 win over the Rockies.

Here’s the story on the 6-5 victory over the Reds in Goodyear, as well as the game story from the 8-1 win over Colorado.

Here’s a feature I wrote on outfielder Xavier Avery, who is making a bid for a backup role this spring.

Here’s my daily notebook with news of the day from camp.

How to see (or hear) this week’s games

It’s not easy figuring out the broadcast schedule for Mariners games in the spring, so here’s what you can expect for this week anyway.

Monday split-squad vs. Rockies in Peoria (12:05 p.m. PT) — Radio broadcast is available live for free on Mariners.com, or on a delayed basis on ESPN 710 Seattle at 7 p.m. PT. No TV.

Monday split-squad vs. Reds in Goodyear (12:05 p.m. PT) — No  radio or TV.

Tuesday vs. Dodgers in Glendale (12:05 p.m. PT) — No radio. TV live to MLB.TV subscribers, or delayed broadcast at 1 p.m. PT on MLB Network.

Wednesday vs. Indians in Peoria (12:05 p.m. PT) — Radio broadcast is available live for free on Mariners.com, or on a delayed basis on ESPN 710 Seattle at 7 p.m. PT. No TV.

Thursday vs. White Sox in Glendale (12:05 p.m. PT) — Radio broadcast is available live for free on Mariners.com, or on a delayed basis on ESPN 710 Seattle at 7 p.m. PT. No TV.

Friday vs. Reds (12:05 p.m. PT) — Radio live on 710 ESPN Seattle and for subscribers on Mariners.com. No TV.

Saturday split-squad vs. Giants in Scottsdale (12:05 p.m. PT) — Live radio on 710 EPSN Seattle or by subscription on Mariners.com. Delayed TV replay on MLB Network at 1 a.m. PT Sunday.

Saturday split-squad vs. Dodgers at Glendale (7:05 p.m. PT) — Televised live by MLB Network. No radio.

Sunday vs. Rangers at Peoria (12:05 p.m. PT) — Live radio on 710 ESPN Seattle or by subscription on Mariners.com.

Seager injury update, plus lots of lineups today

Kyle Seager isn’t in the lineup — either lineup on a split-squad day for the Mariners — but the third baseman says a sore index finger on his right hand isn’t serious and he expects to be back in action by Tuesday after sitting out the past three games.

Seager jammed the finger sliding into third headfirst in the first inning of the Mariners’ first Cactus League contest, going first to third on a single by Robinson Cano.

“We’re just being precautionary with it because it’s early in spring, but it’s fine,” said Seager, who indicated he’d be playing if this was the regular season. “That’s what I get for sliding like that. It wasn’t exactly a textbook slide. But it’s fine. It’s nothing major.”

Manager Lloyd McClendon said Seager would be back in action Tuesday when the Mariners travel to Glendale to face the Dodgers, which also happens to be Felix Hernandez’s spring debut.

As for today? Lots of action with the split squads both going at 12:05 p.m. PT. Here are the lineups:

VS. ROCKIES IN PEORIA
Abraham Almonte CF
Nick Franklin SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Justin Smoak 1B
Corey Hart DH
Dustin Ackley LF
Xavier Avery RF
Willie Bloomquist 3B
Humberto Quintero C

Blake Beavan RHP

VS. REDS AT GOODYEAR
Endy Chavez CF
Brad Miller SS
Logan Morrison 1B
Jesus Montero DH
Michael Saunders RF
Stefen Romero LF
Nate Tenbrink 3B
Mike Zunino C
Carlos Triunfel 2B

Erasmo Ramirez RHP

Morrison will see his first action of the spring at first base after DHing his first two games. McClendon said Corey Hart, his other veteran coming back from knee issues, will be worked into the outfield mix later this week after just DHing in the early games.

McClendon also said this morning that Brandon Maurer is doing very well after throwing live batting practice Saturday and is now slated to throw two innings in his first Cactus League appearance on Wednesday in relief of James Paxton. He’d been held back by a stiff back.

Matt Palmer, a veteran right-hander in camp as a non-roster invitee, is still sidelined by a sore calf. Closer Fernando Rodney, who has been coming along slowly on his normal spring program, will throw live batting practice today.

Sunday’s Game 4 recap: Indians 6, Mariners 3

Ackley, DustinPlayer of the Game: Left fielder Dustin Ackley went 2-for-3 with a home run, two RBIs and a run scored as he continued his strong start to the spring. Ackley’s two-run bolt to center field off Trevor Bauer in the fourth staked Seattle to a 3-1 lead. He’s hitting .571 (4-for-7) with two doubles and a home run in three Cactus League games.

Stat of the Game: Randy Wolf threw two scoreless innings, keeping the Mariners starters streak intact. Four different starters  – Erasmo Ramirez, James Paxton, Scott Baker and Wolf – have combined to throw eight shutout innings so far this spring.

Storyline: Two notable developments came out of this one. Wolf looked solid in his first start since Sept. 22, 2012 as he returns from the second Tommy John surgery of his career. Just as with Scott Baker a day earlier, the Mariners would love to see Wolf come back with a strong spring and add a veteran option to a rotation in need of help now with Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker hurting. The other positive was a double ripped by DH Corey Hart, who is coming back from his own year-long absence with a pair of microfracture knee surgeries and will be a key figure in the middle of the lineup if he stays healthy.

Worth noting: Tom Wilhelmsen gave up three runs (two earned) on two hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning in the fifth, but don’t be fooled by the numbers. Wilhelmsen got a double-play grounder that didn’t get turned when Gabriel Noriega’s throw to first was wide. Then Noriega booted a routine grounder that led to another run.

Quote of the Day: “It was a good game for awhile. One of the things we preached all spring is to go nine innings and 27 outs. Unfortunately we gave them more than 27 outs today and when you do that, you’re going to lose.” — McClendon on the defensive mistakes midgame that led to his team’s first loss this spring.

Next: The Mariners have their first split-squad games of the spring on Monday, with Blake Beavan facing the Rockies in Peoria and Erasmo Ramirez opening on the mound against the Reds in Goodyear. Both games start at 12:05 p.m. PT. A few of the Mariners regulars will be at Goodyear, including catcher Mike Zunino and DH Logan Morrison, but most of the starting position players – including second baseman Robinson Cano —  will stay home in Peoria. Beavan and Ramirez will both be making their second appearances of the spring as the two young right-handers compete for rotation berths.

Here’s today’s boxscore.

Here’s a feature on Logan Morrison, who has racked up two hits in each of his first two games.

And here’s all the news from camp in today’s notebook, including a couple injury updates.

Here’s Sunday’s lineup

Here’s today’s lineup for the Mariners first “away” game of the spring against the Indians at Goodyear:

Abraham Almonte CF
Nick Franklin SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Corey Hart DH
Michael Saunders RF
Dustin Ackley LF
Nate Tenbrink 1B
John Buck C
Willie Bloomquist 3B

Randy Wolf LHP

Just as with Scott Baker yesterday, the Mariners want to get an early read on where Wolf is as he also is coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2012. Wolf hasn’t pitched since then, so this will be a big outing for the veteran lefty.

With the injury situations to Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker, both those guys have legitimate chances to make the season-opening rotation if they pitch well this spring.

Saturday’s Game 3 recap: Mariners 5, Angels 3

Smoak, JustinPlayer of the Game: First baseman Justin Smoak went 2-for-2 with a double and a walk while also scoring a run as he continued looking confident at the plate in the early going. Smoak launched a deep drive midway up the batter’s eye in center field while hitting right-handed off tough Angels lefty C.J. Wilson in the second inning, then added a single in the fifth. He’s now 3-for-4 with two doubles and has reached base in four of his five plate appearances in two games.

Stat of the Game: The Mariners racked up 10 hits before the game was called by rain in the bottom of the seventh, giving them 38 hits and a .328 batting average in their first three Cactus League contests.

Storyline: This was an important outing for Scott Baker and the veteran right-hander threw a pair of scoreless innings with one hit, one walk and one strikeout in his first start. The former Twins starter is coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2012 and could be a big plus for the Mariners if he proves healthy this spring as they look to bolster a rotation that has already lost Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker for at least the first few weeks of the season.

Worth noting: The Mariners started the Cactus League season 3-0 for just the sixth time in franchise history and first time since 1994.

Quote of the Day: “We’re not going to get carried away. Obviously Spring Training ball is Spring Training ball. Most of the time that means your Triple-A guys are playing better than their Triple-A guys. You’ve got to be realistic in what you’re trying to accomplish. But there are certain things you’re looking for and a certain effort and our guys are doing a nice job with that.” — McClendon on winning the first three games.

Next: Veteran lefty Randy Wolf makes his debut Sunday as the Mariners face the Indians at 12:05 p.m. PT in Goodyear. It will be Wolf’s first action since Tommy John surgery in October, 2012. The 14-year Major League veteran is trying to catch on with Seattle as a non-roster invitee. Also scheduled to pitch are Andrew Carraway, Danny Farquhar, Logan Kensing, Tom Wilhelmsen, Lucas Luetge and Logan Bawcom.

Here’s today’s boxscore.

Here’s my story on McClendon talking about Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker not likely being ready for the start of the season.

And here’s my notebook with all the day’s news, including Corey Hart talking about his return after a year’s absence and Jack Zduriencik discussing the rotation options.

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