(I’ll have a game thread on Geoff Baker’s Mariners’ blog).
Today’s a big day — after the 12:10 p.m. game with the Rockies here in Vegas (where it’s not nearly as cold and windy as last night, thankfully), the Mariners will set their 25-man roster, hop on a plane and go to Minnesota.
No word yet on who will make the squad — the players themselves won’t be told until after the game — but it seems the only pending decisions are who will fill Ichiro’s roster spot, and whether Roy Corcoran or Jesus Delgado gets the final bullpen spot. That’s assuming that Brandon Morrow starts the year on the active roster as the closer, which is one of the questions that will be answered after the game. I’m figuring rookies Shawn Kelley and Chris Jakubauskas will make the team, and Rob Johnson will be the second catcher. But nothing’s official, and cutdown day is often full of surprises. Just ask R.A. Dickey last year, when he was stunned he didn’t make the team, or Charlton Jimerson, who was stunned when he did.
Corcoran really helped himself with two scoreless innings on Friday that lowered his spring ERA from 14.14. to 11.00.
“I think it’s a situation where he put a lot of pressure on himself, especially in Arizona where the ball doesn’t tend to sink,” manager Don Wakamatsu said. “We kept saying, even though he was giving up runs and he didn’t have great outings, that his stuff was getting better. Obviously, he was as sharp as I’ve seen him. It was a valuable two innings for him to build a little confidence going into the season.”
Added Wakamatsu, “I think everyone, when they go down there and get beat around, start to lose a little confidence. Under the lights and this close to Opening Day, it’s going to build some confidence.”
As for Ichiro, the team has been in contact with him through text messages.
“I’ve read the ones he’s sent,” Wakamatsu said. “Everything is going good. He’s increasing his workouts down there. If everything goes as planned, and he keeps progressing, he’ll probably meet us in Oakland.”
The Mariners open a three-game series in Oakland next Friday after four games in Minnesota. They then come home for a three-game series with the Angels, beginning April 14. Ichiro is eligible to be activated for the second game on April 15
“I think if everything goes well, we’re looking at maybe having him do a simulated game down there (in Peoria, Ariz.), get on a plane and meet us in Oakland, be part of the team workout there,” Wakamatsu said.
“When we talked originally, his strong desire was to be with the club, he made it evident. We kind of said, ‘We think it will be a good idea to be with the club prior to Seattle.”
Asked if he was feeling some nerves on the verge of his managerial debut on Monday, Wakamatsu said, “Yeah. To me, when I sit in that dugout in Minnesota, I’ll be able to look at the staff I’ve chosen, because we share everything together. They’ve done a great job this spring. After 6 1/2 weeks, to be able to say, ‘Here we are, boys. Let’s get it started.’
“I feel real strong about the staff. I feel real strong about the work we’ve done in spring, on and off the field. I’ll take my chances.”