Did a radio segment about an hour ago and was asked which player stood out the most for me today. That one was easy enough: young Carter Capps went into his bullpen session like it was Game 7 of the World Series and nearly took veteran catcher Kelly Shoppach’s hand off a couple of times.
“He got Shoppach’s attention early on,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge quipped.
Have a look at a video of the session up above.
Wedge said he isn’t too worried about Capps throwing so hard, so early.
“Thats who he is,” Wedge said. “He’s a big strong kid who throws hard. You look at effort. Aslong as you don’t see anybody putting themselves into a position to…try to do too much, that’s where you’ve got to pay attention. You’ve got eyes on these young pitchers out there and we have the conversations we need to have with these guys. We make sure they stay where they need to stay.”
Speaking of Shoppach, I asked Wedge about his catchers this year and whether he felt there was a need to further address all the passed balls and wild-pitches that went to the backstop last season. Teams go over pitch blocking every spring — you saw it in the video earlier today — but I asked whether the Mariners planned to focus extra-hard on it this spring.
Wedge said no.
“I think we’ve got a different cast of characters now,” Wedge said. “And I think that when you talk about our catching crew, I look at the five catchers that are in our camp right now…and you’ve got some guys who have some big league time and you’ve got some young catchers who should play in the big leagues for a long time. So, it’s a nice combination.”
Besides Shoppach, who is already mentoring some of the younger catchers on how to prepare for the hitters they’ll be working against, the Mariners have first-round pick Mike Zunino, Jesus Montero, veteran minor leaguer Jesus Sucre and prospect John Hicks working out in camp. Veteran Rony Paulino has yet to arrive because of visa paperwork still being processed after the Mariners signed him late.
Wedge has yet to see much of how Montero’s off-season running and conditioning translates into catching ability. Montero suggested when he arrived in camp that he still had a few pounds to lose and Wedge agreed that he’s not quite in playing shape just yet.
Still, Wedge says he expects big things from Montero this year development-wise.
“He’s still a young player that’s still learning a great deal,” Wedge said. “He learned so much last year. It was a grind for him to get through the entire year, it being his first full year. And really, the way we counted on him in the middle of our lineup really wasn’t fair to him as it really wasn’t fair to some of the other kids that we were forced to use in the middle of our lineup. But I think we’re in a better position with that this year.”
On the subject of Kameron Loe, who I will profile in tomorrow’s paper, Wedge said he’s definitely looking at him as a relief pitcher only. Loe had earlier expressed an interest in one day starting again, but Wedge said the topic has never entered the team’s thought process.
So, shelve that idea for now.
Wedge, however, does like the idea of Loe as a bullpen veteran from the right side in latter innings.
“When a Kameron Loe is still out there, a guy who’s a quality big-league reliever and…you’ve got a chance to get him I think you need to go ahead and do that,’’ Wedge said. “Especially with all the youth in our bullpen.’’
That youth isn’t necessarily an issue yet, but Wedge said it’s something the team needs to prepare for.
“We’ve got a lot of young pitchers who had a lot of success last year,’’ he said. “But this is their next go-around under a different set of circumstances. A lot of those guys broke in during the middle of the season. It’s a little bit different the next year when you come in and you have expectations on you.’’