March 19, 2013 at 10:16 PM
Now playing: a Mariners and ROOT Sports co-production of The Fantastic Four
ADDITIONAL NOTE 11:15 p.m.: The Mariners made some expected roster moves tonight, sending catcher Mike Zunino and right-handed pitcher Logan Bawcom to minor league camp. They also optioned outfielder Eric Thames to Class AAA.
Well, some of you may know that Brandon Maurer pitched five innings of one-run ball tonight, allowing just three hits in what became a 6-3 win for the Mariners over the San Francisco Giants in front of a huge crowd of 11,188 at Peoria Stadium. Maurer said his fastball command wasn’t what it’s been nights prior today, so he was using his sinker a lot. He said all the right things about not being too nervous this late in camp, how he’s enjoying the ride, etc., etc. Kendrys Morales hit another homer and a sac fly to support the cause, Nick Franklin had some hits as well and — other than some struggles by Tom Wilhelmsen — it was a pretty good night all around.
But now, that we’re done with that, let’s get on to more fun stuff. Angie Mentink of ROOT Sports was in the clubhouse and had a few things she wanted to ask Maurer when it comes to nicknames. We’ve all heard the Big 3 stuff about Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton in the Mariners system. You can read my story in Wednesday’s paper about Walker and his mom and her battle with breast cancer.
But Mentink, for one, feels the Big 3 isn’t quite enough and should be expanded. She wanted to test a new nickname out on Maurer: The Fantastic Four.
Little did she know, he’s up on his comic books. Here’s the portion of the segment.
Mentink: You know, Brandon, so much focus has been on the Big Three, but Jack Z. and anybody else would say…it’s the Fantasic Four. So, they’ve been re-assigned, you’re still here. Are they still talking to you, and if so, what are they saying?
Maurer: I live with two, and we’re real good friends and then Hultzen’s also in there, so, we all support each other. I want to be The Torch if anyone asks.
(Blank stare from Mentink)
Maurer: Fantastic Four? You know?
Mentink: Oh, yeah, gotcha. Yeah, yeah. I gotcha, I gotcha. I’m picking up what you’re putting down. And if you had to say what the other three are? Go ahead and throw them out there.
Maurer: Probably, Hultzen would be the Jessica Alba, Taijuan as the stretchy guy and then The Thing could be Pax. Yeah, we’ll go with that.”
Going to be fun times for Hultzen in the clubhouse the next few days.
Anyhow, yeah, yeah, I know some of you want to know about the game and Maurer’s chances of making the rotation.
We caught up with manager Eric Wedge on the field post-game and here’s what he had to say.
“I thought he threw the ball very good,” Wedge said. “He had to right himself a couple of times but he did that. Again, he was efficient, to the point where we had to send him down to the bullpen (to throw extra pitches) because we had to get these other (reliever) guys into the game. But the guy’s had a good camp.”
I asked Wedge how he’d rate Maurer compared to some of the other pitchers he’s up against wen it comes to his ability to get big league outs. In other words, right now, this instant (as opposed to six months, or two years down the road) where does Maurer rate next to Blake Beavan, Erasmo Ramirez, Jon Garland and Jeremy Bonderman?
“He has major league stuff,” Wedge said. “We feel strongly he’s going to be able to gets major league outs. It’s just a matter, as we prep everything out,the decisions that we have to make, you have to take everything into consideration. The experience level, what the other guys have done. And you match that up to what he’s done. We don’t have to make any decisions yet. We still have some time. But I think we’ve done a good job of getting the most out of this camp in regards to utilizing all the time that we’ve had.”