Follow us:

Mariners blog

Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

March 14, 2011 at 9:13 AM

Mariners head into final two weeks looking for answers

mari02262011 038.JPG
Good to be back in Peoria, Ariz. as the Mariners head into their final two weeks down here prior to the start of the season. Thanks to Bob Condotta for the great job he did filling in the past nine days. Two weeks from tomorrow, the M’s play their final exhibition game here before flying off to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers. By that point, the team should know who is going to play where.
This week should fly by fairly quick, since the M’s have a day off tomorrow, followed by a pair of night games.
But questions remain in the outfield, where Milton Bradley has made a strong case for himself to be the everyday left fielder. It’s still early, but Michael Saunders already overhauling his batting stance probably isn’t the best sign for him about where he’s fairing in that competition. The Mariners’ coaching staff wanted to use spring training to get to know Saunders a little better and you can assume that — hitting-wise — they weren’t too crazy about what they were seeing. Remember, M’s GM Jack Zduriencik has already stated that he won’t hesitate to start some of his younger guys in Class AAA if there are better options available at the major league level.
That would appear to open some doors for guys like Ryan Langerhans and Gabe Gross. If Saunders were to begin the year in AAA, it’s very plausible to think that one or even both of Langerhans and Gross make the team.
It will all depend on what the M’s want to do with their infield. Everyone assumes that Adam Kennedy has the primary backup job nailed. But then, if the team was to go with an extra infielder rather than a fifth outfielder, Matt Tuiasosopo would still have a shot to make it if he beats out Josh Wilson. You’d think that, with hitting being a consideration for a corner infielder/left fielder, Tuiasosopo would have the edge there.

And then, there’s the bullpen situation. Brandon League, as expected, will earn the closer job by default, since Chris Ray hasn’t been healthy enough to seriously contend for the job and Manny Delcarmen has needed time to get his feet underneath him here.
But the rest of the bullpen is still wide open. You could envision Delcarmen making it if he is to continue steadily along. Denny Bautista has also picked things up after a rough beginning and you just know that — push come to shove — the Mariners would likely prefer some veteran guys in there.
But Josh Lueke has been impressive in camp as well. Don’t rule him out just yet.
Finally, a guy who will pitch in a “B” game this morning against San Diego, Aaron Laffey, also looks to have a solid chance of making it. The Mariners traded for him for a reason and if he can continue to produce quality outings here, he will make the decision easy for them.
We’ll get back to our regular lineup of blog features fairly soon. Like I said, it’s a bit of a wacky schedule the next few days.
Caught up briefly with catcher Steven Baron , who was still buzzing over getting to catch knuckleballer Charlie Haeger the other day.
“You can’t train for that,” he said.
Baron has made a bit of an impression with his bat here so far. He hit a home run in a Cactus League game about two weeks ago, then launched two doubles off Felix Hernandez in an intrasquad game over the weekend.
Yes, it did indeed help Baron’s confidence. He struggled offensively last season in his first full year as a pro after being drafted out of high school as an 18-year-old in 2009.
“I felt like it helped a lot because if I could hold my own with a guy like that, I could hold my own in this game,” he said.
Baron admits he’s struggled to adjust to the pro game. He says there were days when he’d go 0-for-4 and would be unable to pull out of the slide after that.
“I wasn’t able to deal with the failure yet,” he said. “I think last year, I learned to deal with the adversity.”
We’ll see how some of his success this spring translates to his upcoming season.
Oh yeah, Edgar Martinez walked into the clubhouse about a half hour ago, said hello and continued on to go talk to manager Eric Wedge. He’ll be here a few days to offer advice to players and work with them.
Here is the lineup for this morning’s 10 a.m. “B” game:
2B Dustin Ackley
3B Chris Gimenez
DH Michael Saunders
1B Matt Tuiasosopo
LF Mike Carp
SS Luis Rodriguez
RF Michael Wilson
CF Greg Halman
C Steven Baron
LHP Aaron Laffey
Amd here is the lineup for the regular game against the Chicago Cubs:
RF Ichiro
3B Chone Figgins
CF Franklin Gutierrez
DH Jack Cust
1B Justin Smoak
LF Adam Kennedy
2B Brendan Ryan
SS Jack Wilson
C Adam Moore
RHP Doug Fister

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Chone Figgins


No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.

The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.

The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►