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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

February 10, 2010 at 4:36 PM

The wild and crazy world of spring training non-roster invitees

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Oops, as some of you have pointed out, Dustin Ackley is on the Mariners’ 40-man roster and is not a spring invitee. My mistake.

If you have an overwhelming need to know where Vinnie Chulk ended up (Pirates), or whatever happened to Travis Blackley (he’s with the Mets), or whether Russ Ortiz finally hung it up (miraculously, he didn’t; he’ll be in Dodger camp), then this is the post for you.

One of the parts of spring training I like best, because I’m an oddity, is poring over the list of non-roster invitees. It’s a treasure-trove of intrigue — hot prospects making their first foray into major-league camp (think Jason Heyward, Braves’ outfielder, considered a superstar in the making)) intertwined with veterans trying desperately to hang on (thinkBrian Giles, or any number of others, as you’ll soon see).

Just about every one of these guys is a great human-interest story. For instance, Adam Loewen will be an invitee in the Toronto Blue Jays camp – the same Adam Loewen who was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2002 draft by the Orioles, the highest selection ever for a Canadian. He was touted as a future ace in Baltimore’s rotation, but elbow problems wiped out his pitching career. So now Loewen is trying to re-invent himself – as an outfielder or first baseman, a la Rick Ankiel.

Blue Jays’ camp will also feature minor-league invitee Jeremy Reed, who is illustrative of another fun February parlor game: Find the ex-Mariners invited to spring training camps. Would you believe that John Halama , pictured above, is still kicking, invited to Brewers’ camp? Halama, soon to be 38, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2006. Now that’s what spring training is all about.

Ex-Mariners from Chris Shelton (Astros) to Wilson Valdez (Phillies) have been invited to camps throughout the major leagues. Oswaldo Navarro, we’re watching you.

With help from this website, and surfing the net to find a few guys that fell through the cracks, I compiled this list of non-roster players to watch this spring.

Hanging on for dear life: RHP Daniel Cabrera (White Sox), RHP Jamey Wright (Indians), IF Mark Grudzielanek (Indians), OF Austin Kearns (Indians), LHP Bruce Chen (Royals), OF Jacque Jones (Twins), 3B Dallas McPherson (A’s), C Toby Hall (Rangers), IF Chad Tracy (Cubs), Of Joey Gathright (Jays), RHP Rodrigo Lopez (Diamondbacks), IF Kevin Millar (Cubs), RHP Seth McClung (Marlins), RHP Derrick Turnbow (Marlins), LHP Mike Maroth (Twins), LHP Rich Hill (Cardinals), LHP Kei Igawa (Yankees), OF Marcus Thames (Yankees), OF Laynce Nix (Reds), C Paul Lo Duca (Rockies), OF Jay Payton (Rockies), LHP Gustavo Chacin (Astros), RHP Russ Ortiz (Dodgers), INF Doug Mientkiewicz (Dodgers), OF Brian Giles (Dodgers), OF Jim Edmonds (Brewers), OF Frank Catalanotto (Mets), OF Dewayne Wise (Phillies), OF Matt Stairs (Padres), RHP Chad Cordero (Mariners), OF Corey Patterson (Mariners).

Prospects to watch: 1B Lars Anderson (Red Sox), OF Jason Heyward (Braves), OF Michael Stanton (Marlins), RHP Kyle Drabek (Jays), Jordan Danks, OF (White Sox), OF Mike Moustakas (Royals), INF Jemille Weeks (A’s), RHP Tanner Scheppers (Rangers), 3B Josh Vitters (Cubs).

Ex-Mariners: RHP Jorge Campillo (Royals), LHP John Parrish (Royals), OF Jeremy Reed (Jays), 1B/OF Bryan LaHair (Cubs), RHP Justin Lehr (Reds), LHP Bobby Livingston (Mets), LHP Travis Blackley (Mets), RHP R.A. Dickey (Mets), RHP Phillippe Aumont (Phillies), OF Tyson Gillies (Phillies), C Corky Miller (Reds), INF Miguel Cairo (Reds), RHP Roy Corcoran (Astros), INF Chris Shelton (Astros), INF Oswaldo Navarro (Astros), RHP Jeff Weaver (Dodgers), OF Prentice Redman (Dodgers), LHP John Halama (Brewers), INF Wilson Valdez (Phillies), LHP Justin Thomas (Pirates), RHP Miguel Batista (Nationals), LHP Eddie Guardado (Nationals), C Jamie Burke (Nationals), OF Jerry Owens (Nationals)

Favorite invitee name: C Tuffy Gosewisch (Phillies).

(Seattle Times file photo)

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