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June 14, 2009 at 10:38 AM

Morrow to get another start — in San Diego

The never-ending saga of Brandon Morrow has taken another twist. The Mariners now appear inclined to continue his transition into a starter while having him remain in the majors — and, for now, in the rotation.
Fresh off Morrow’s struggling start Saturday, in which he walked four in three innings (but, in fairness, struck out four and gave up just one run), manager Don Wakamatsu just told us that Morrow will start Thursday’s game in San Diego.
There’s a little more to this. One, they don’t believe Ryan Rowland-Smith is ready yet, so he’ll remain in Tacoma. Garrett Olson will officially start Wednesday in San Diego. Two, Jarrod Washburn’s back “locked up” on him again Saturday, and he’s walking very gingerly. Washburn was the scheduled starter on Thursday, but now he’s pushed back to Friday. They still believe he’ll be OK by then, using Russell Branyan and Mike Sweeney, who had similar back spasms, as a gauge on the time table. And three, this gives them one extra day to make sure Erik Bedard (shoulder inflammation) is good and ready. Bedard is now penciled in to start Saturday.
Some quotes from Wakamatsu:
“It’s a combination of things. We’d like to continue him (Morrow) pitching and getting that starting experience. He came out of yesterday’s game with no problems at 64 pitches. We feel we can put him right back in. This gives Washburn an extra day with his back, gives us more time to make sure everything is OK with Bedard. Pushing everyone back makes sense.”
Here’s what Wakamatsu said about letting Morrow develop in the majors rather than the minors: “We would probably look somewhere between 75 to 80 pitches on Thursday, depending on that outing. We’ll see what happens. I think with his experience up here already, if we can do the same thing he’d accomplish in the minor leagues with some efficiency, I don’t think there’s a need (to go to the minors) right now.”
Asked what were the pros of having Morrow stay up here, he said: “The experience, and doing it where it matters. A lot of times when down in the minors, it’s more physical. I don’t think you can emulate, or substitute, pitching in a major league ballgame. The pitch count wasn’t very good, but the stuff overall I thought is getting better and better.”
Just my two cents, but with the team professing to be in a pennant race, can they really afford to have a guy doing on-the-job training every five days? And it would seem to be to Morrow’s benefit to hone his skills in a less-pressurized situation where he can concentrate on the mechanical adjustments he needs to make while building up his stamina. He was on board with that strategy last week, professing that he was willing to go down for as long as it took to be completely ready to become a starter, rather than rush into it like he did last year. But now that plan has taken a detour.

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