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

March 19, 2013 at 2:48 PM

Catching up on Mike Carp, Chone Figgins and other ex-Mariners

Mike Carp rounds the bases after homering on March 11. Photo by Associated Press

Mike Carp rounds the bases after homering on March 11. Photo by Associated Press

Since I was curious myself, I thought others might be wondering how some of the ex-Mariners from last season are doing — and there are a lot of them at various major- (and minor-) league outposts.

  • Mike Carp, Red Sox (designated for assignment when Mariners signed Joe Saunders, traded to Boston for player to be named or cash considerations on Feb. 20 — word out of Boston is that the deal will be cash only).

Carp is hitting .214 (6-for-28) with one homer and three RBIs. He’s struck out 11 times and walked just twice, not good for a guy whose OBP is seen as a strength. He’s battling with Daniel Nava, Lyle Overbay and Ryan Sweeney for a backup role at first base (to Mike Napoli) and in the outfield. Carp is out of options. Here’s a quote from manager John Farrell in today’s Boston Globe: “On a given day, it’s a two-horse race or a four-horse race. Some separation at times but then good at-bats by Overbay and Sweeney. The defensive versatility is important, but we’re going to measure this probably on the at-bats, which will be the overriding issue here.”

Two factors that could come into play: One, David Ortiz continues to battle injuries and may not be ready for Opening Day. That would help Carp’s chances of sticking. And two, rookie Jackie Bradley has been tearing it up in spring games and is making a strong bid to crack the roster. That would not help Carp’s chances of sticking.

Photo by Associated Press

Photo by Associated Press

  • Chone Figgins, Marlins (released by Mariner on Feb. 20, signed to a minor-league contract, with spring training invitation, by Marlins on Feb. 8.

Figgins is hitting .308 (8-for-26) with a .367 on-base percentage, and is thought to have¬† a good shot at a utility job — but not a lock. He’s battling Nick Green, Matt Downs and Chris Valaika for the spot. I’m told he’s looked a little shaky defensively but that none of the other candidates have overwhelmed the Marlins, and they like Figgins’ versatility. He started off with just two hits in his first 14 at-bats but jolted his average with a 4-for-4 game against the Braves on March 10.

A week ago, Marlins manager Mike Redmond (a Gonzaga alum, BTW) said of the utility battle: “Sitting here now, would I love to have somebody really step up in front of that utility position role? Of course, but nobody has really stepped out in front of that. That’s going to be one of those battles that might come down to the last couple of days of spring.”

P.S.: Figgins’ old Angels and Mariners buddy Casey Kotchman is making a strong bid for an Opening Day roster spot with a .455 average (15-for-33).

Photo by Associated Press

Photo by Associated Press

  • Shawn Kelley, David Aardsma, Ichiro, Yankees (Kelley was traded to the Yankees on Feb. 13 after the Mariners designated him for assignment after signing catcher Kelly Shoppach. They received minor-league outfielder Abraham Almonte. The Yankees signed Aardsma to a two-year contract in February of 2012 despite the knowledge he would miss all season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Ichiro, of course, was traded to the Yankees on July 23, 2012 for right-handed pitchers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar.

Kelley and Aardsma are bidding to be reunited in the Yankees’ bullpen as setup men for Mariano Rivera. Their chances improve if the Yankees opt to keep just one left-hander (Boone Logan). Kelley has appeared in seven games, giving up four earned runs in 6 2/3 innings for a 5.40 ERA with seven hits allowed, six strikeouts and two walks. He has options remaining, which may work against him. Aardsma has appeared in five games, allowing three hits and two earned runs for a 3.60 ERA. He’s struck out five, walked one and has limited opponents to a .176 average.

Ichiro, meanwhile, has followed up his strong Yankees stint after the trade (.322, five homers, 27 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 67 games) with a strong spring (.382 average, .447 on-base percentage). He’ll hold down right field and may be at leadoff on Opening Day if Derek Jeter’s balky ankle knocks him out of the lineup.

  • Brandon League, Dodgers (traded to LA on July 30 for outfielder Leon Landry and pitcher Logan Bawcom).

League signed a three-year, $22.5-million contract over the winter and will start the year as the Dodgers closer. He earned that job in September, after Kenley Jensen was unable to pitch because of an irregular heartbeat, when League went 6-for-6 in save situations with two wins, one run and eight hits allowed over his final 22 innings. The Dodgers have plenty of fallback candidates if League falters, including Jensen (now healthy again), Javy Guerra and Ronald Belisario.

League has a 16.20 ERA in four outings (nine hits, six earned runs in 3.1 innings pitched), but much of that is due to a horrible outing last Saturday (on his 30th birthday), when he gave up four hits (including a homer by David Murphy), two walks and a wild pitch, while retiring only one batter.

Trayvon Robinson of the Orioles during a game with the Twins on March 13. Photo by Associated Press

Trayvon Robinson of the Orioles during a game with the Twins on March 13. Photo by Associated Press

  • Trayvon Robinson, Orioles (traded to Baltimore for infielder Robert Andino, Nov. 20).

Robinson’s spring got off to a rough spot when he was designated for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster. But the Orioles wound up re-assigning him to a minor-league contract and inviting him to camp. He’s had a decent spring, but that non-roster status is going to hurt Robinson’s chances of making the team out of spring training. He’s hitting .297 (11-for-37) with two homers and three steals in four attempts. But while manager Buck Showalter has been positive in his assessments of Robinson, he may be looking for someone who can play first base as well as outfield for the final bench job. Conor Jackson, Steve Pearce, Russ Canzler and Ryan Flaherty are all in the mix.

Photo by Associated Press

Photo by Associated Press

  • Jason Vargas, Angels (traded to LA for Kendrys Morales, Dec. 19).

Vargas is one of three new starters for the Angels (along with Tommy Hanson andJoe Blanton) to replace departed Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana while slotting behind Jeff Weaver and C.J. Wilson. Vargas has made three spring appearances, putting up a 4.66 ERA in 9 2/3 innings, with six strikeouts and two walks. But he’s not fighting for a job. Vargas is set in the Angels’ rotation.

John Jaso of the A's bats during a game against Arizona. Photo by Associated Press.

John Jaso of the A’s bats during a game against Arizona. Photo by Associated Press.

  • John Jaso, A’s (traded to Oakland for Michael Morse, Jan. 16).

Jaso is hitting .217 (5-for-23) with a double, triple and no home runs, but he does have five walks to bring his on-base percentage to .345. The left-handed hitting Jaso will split time at catcher with righty Derek Norris, but manager Bob Melvin has said it’s not a strict platoon. Norris could get some starts against right-handers so he doesn’t languish on the bench. Melvin has indicated he’ll go with the hot hand. Jaso could also get some time at DH.

  • Steve Delabar, Blue Jays (traded to Toronto for OF Eric Thames, July 30).

Delabar is a lock to make the Blue Jays and will work out of the bullpen in a seventh and eighth inning role. He struck out 46 in 29.1 innings with Toronto last year after the trade, putting up a 3.38 ERA.  He has 4.26 ERA in 6.1 innings so far this spring.

Oh, in case you were wondering what happened to Munenori Kawasaki, the Jays have signed him to a minor-league contract. He’s slated for Triple-A Buffalo.

Miguel Olivo of the Reds walks to the dugout before a recent spring game against the Giants. Photo by Associated Press.

Miguel Olivo of the Reds walks to the dugout before a recent spring game against the Giants. Photo by Associated Press.

  • Miguel Olivo, Reds (signed to a minor-league contract by Cincinnati on Feb. 1 after the Mariners declined to pick up his 2013 option).

It doesn’t look good for Olivo. For one thing, he’s hitting just .138 (4-for-29) with 12 strikeouts and no walks. And for another, Devin Mesoraco, his competition for the backup job to Ryan Hanigan, is hitting .435 (10-for-23) with three doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs this spring. Unless Dusty Baker’s preference for a veteran wins the day, it could be the end of the line for the 34-year-old Olivo.

  • George Sherrill, Royals (signed with KC as a free agent on Dec. 11).

You don’t remember Sherrill’s stint with the Mariners last year? It lasted all of two games before the lefty hurt his elbow and was sidelined for the season. Sherrill, 35, eventually had Tommy John surgery in May, which means he’s still in the recovery phase. The Royals have him on a throwing program, but he’s not expected to see any game action before late April, or more likely May.

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