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March 14, 2013 at 9:16 AM

Early baseball on-tap for Mariners today as cutdowns loom

royalsWe’re getting an early start on some baseball action today in Goodyear, Ariz. as the Mariners play the Indians in a “B” game featuring Taijuan Walker and James Paxton on the mound. Later, the Reds come to Peoria, Ariz. to take on the Mariners, who also play a pair of games tomorrow — one of them at night against The Netherlands in Peoria — ahead of what should be the first big series of roster cutdowns.

Nothing like four games in about 36 hours to show the team what it really needs to see before the cuts. Frankly, they’ve probably seen enough right about now, but need the extra bodies to get through the four games.

The season starts in just over two weeks’ time and we’re going to see some interesting decisions when it comes to the outfield, the rotation and the bullpen. The most interesting decision should be between Jason Bay and Casper Wells in the outfield because, believe me, the Mariners are not about to carry six outfielders. With Bay, who is having a strong spring, there are leadership intangibles to consider as well. I know many of you don’t like that aspect of baseball, but coaches and players will tell you it’s very real.

Check out this interview done with stats-inclined pitcher Brandon McCarthy of the Diamondbacks the other day. Pay close attention to what he says about the A’s team he played for last year and what might have happened without two veteran leaders on that club.

The other roster battles involve the rotation, where I’d say Jon Garland has an inside track to one of the vacant spots, while Blake Beavan, Erasmo Ramirez and minor leaguer Brandon Maurer will fight it out for the other. If I had to handicap it, I’d say Beavan has the edge based on the team’s familiarity with him, some improvements he’s made on the side here in camp as well as the likelihood of him delivering the type of quality innings needed by the team. You won’t get more than 150 innings from Maurer if he makes the club, simply because he’s never thrown in the bigs before. Beavan has and that matters when it comes to arm endurance.

Then again, you’ve also got the possibility the team will designate a long guy for the bullpen. If that happens, one of the three guys could be kept for a relief role. We’ll see which route the team wants to go in. Much of it depends on how comfortable the Mariners are with their bullpen situation, especially from the right side. I’d say Stephen Pryor helped himself out big time by striking out the side yesterday in the eighth inning.

But the bullpen is far from sorted out. There are plenty of spots still to be won and lost from both the right and the left side. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, with the bullpen looking short on right side depth, the likelihood the team will carry three left-handers continues to shrink by the day. And that means a guy like Lucas Luetge, with Class AAA options left, could be vulnerable.

March 14, 2013 – Goodyear Indians Complex (10:00 am)

Seattle Mariners


Cleveland Indians


Player Pos.  


Player Pos.


Dustin Ackley (L) 1B


Juan Diaz (S) SS


Nick Franklin (S) SS


Roberto Perez C


Brad Miller (L) 3B


Chris McGuiness (L) RF


Ronny Paulino C


Chris McDade (S) 1B


Vinnie Catricala LF

Anthony Gallas LF


John Hicks DH

Kyle Bellows 3B


Julio Morban (L) RF

Jeremie Tice DH


Francisco Martinez CF

Matt Lawson 2B


Timmy Lopes* 2B

Jordan Henry (L) CF

Starting Pitcher

Starting Pitcher


James Paxton LHP


Corey Kluber RHP



Comments | More in Cactus League | Topics: james paxton; taijuan walker; brandon mccarthy; blake beavan


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