Let’s clarify exactly what’s gone on here this morning, because there have been some moves on the pitching front. Both Chris Reitsma and Arthur Rhodes have yet to be officially cut, but were told by the team this morning that they will not be on the opening day roster. The M’s want them to continue with their throwing program in the minors and not try to rush back in time for some March 31 deadline.
We told you this about Rhodes earlier in the week. There was no way the team was going to risk re-injuring him by rushing him back in his comeback attempt. Reitsma is also apparently not as far along as Mark Lowe, who has already thrown in back-to-back games and now looks likely to head north. Rhodes and Reitsma can both refuse assignments to the minors and become free-agents. (correction — 12:27 p.m.: Actually, they can’t refuse. They are both on Class AAA contracts. So, they either play there, or retire. They can also ask team for release, but M’s don’t have to give it.) Rhodes is apparently sticking with the team’s program and will head to San Francisco and Las Vegas with the club and try to throw on consecutive days before resuming his throwing program.
Reitsma, for now, has gone home and will think about his future.
“They are both throwing the ball well,” Mariners manager John McLaren said. “We want to make sure they stick to their throwing programs.”
Infielder Tug Hulett and Roy Corcoran have also been told they will soon be cut, but are staying with the team for now. That’s not really a surprise to anyone.
But today’s bullpen moves make clearer what will happen before opening day.
McLaren said it has yet to be decided whether the team will carry 11 or 12 pitchers. But given the shaky health status of the middle relievers and setup men, that would seem a given. The team needs a second lefthander and Ryan Rowland-Smith appears to be the best choice for now. Down the road, towards the end of April or early May, Rhodes could be ready to join the club.
McLaren said he likes the idea of Rhodes and Reitsma, perhaps, waiting in the wings to help the team out after the start of the season. Both pitchers, he said, bring: “A veteran presence, guys who have been there and done that. We could have used that last year, especially when we were going through some bad streaks.”
He added that Rhodes this spring looks “as good as I’ve ever seen him. We don’t want to set him back because of a March 31 deadline.”
That said, no guarantees of joining the club by a certain date have been made to either pitcher. On Brandon Morrow and his sore shoulder, McLaren wants to see him show better control but does not envision having to put him on the disabled list.
So, in my book, the team, still goes with 12 pitchers.
You would see a bullpen of:
I still think the team will go with Dickey over Baek. But that’s a tough call. Baek has pitched very well down here. But I’ve never been convinced the team is sold on Baek, for whatever reason. And that goes back beyond this year. The possibility of Dickey’s rubber arm looks good with a bullpen this uncertain health-wise.
But we’ve been wrong before. Let’s see how this plays out. McLaren wants to have it settled by tomorrow, but isn’t sure it will be. Interesting in any event.