Jeremy Bonderman is still hoping to land a rotation spot as a non-roster invitee and the Mariners will likely have to make a call on him soon. Bonderman pitched in a minor league game against Kansas City’s affilitates this afternoon, lasting five innings and giving up a run on five hits. He struck out four of the 24 batters he faced and threw 76 pitches.
At this stage, Bonderman, looks like he could use another month or so in Class AAA to round back into the form he showed before leaving baseball after the 2010 season.
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Unlike his fellow non-roster invite Jon Garland, who looked steady all through camp other than last week’s thrashing by the Netherlands, Bonderman has had to slowly work his way back. The four strikeouts are encourging, though they came against minor leaguers. By comparison, Joe Saunders had eight strikeouts in yesterday’s minor league intrasquad game and he hasn’t been close to the best-looking starter in camp.
The difference between Bonderman and Garland also lies in how interested other teams are. Garland is said to have a few options other than the Mariners and could choose to explore those as a free agent if asked to go to AAA. With Bonderman, there’s little risk of serious outside interest, given how long he’s been away from baseball and prior questions about whether his heart was really still in the game after burnout from a series of injuries.
About the only risk in asking Bonderman to go to AAA is that he’d retire. He’s not going to another club the way Garland might.
In Garland’s case, his start tomorrow against the Cubs should be a big one. If he gets lit up again like he did against The Netherlands, the Mariners might just let him walk. But if he were to revert back to form, you’d have to think there’s a strong chance he opens the season with Seattle.
From a sheer results perspective, Garland has not looked as good as Brandon Maurer, Erasmo Ramirez, nor Blake Beavan. Again, though, this is not about mere spring training results. It’s about the team trying to forecase whose stuff will hold up the longest and give them the consistency they want in the back of their rotation.
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