ADDITIONAL NOTE 2:09 p.m.: Good news on Jesus Montero. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik just sent word that the bump on his head is just “a nasty knock” and not a concussion. So, that should leave things a bit more normal the final week of camp.
How big was that egg just laid by Blake Beavan? Well, if you’re planning to use it in any Easter hunts next Sunday, you might want to haul Mount Rainier over to your backyard to provide some cover.
Beavan just gave up nine runs — eight earned, though the unearned run was because of Beavan’s own wild-pitch — on 16 hits over 5 1/3 innings. Yeah, that’s right. He gave up 16 hits. A few were flares, sure, but a few were bombs, so it all evens out if we’re talking fireworks. Don’t really know where to start, so I won’t. Left-handers destroyed him when it mattered and pretty much everybody was using him for batting practice by the end.
Seattle trails 9-6 in the sixth inning.
In all seriousness, I do think the injury to catcher Jesus Montero threw Beavan off a bit, but I don’t want to really lay this at the feet of Montero’s minor league replacement, Michael Dowd. Yeah, I’m sure the game plan was altered somewhat, but if you’re a pitcher, you have to overcome that. Beavan had his worst outing of the spring at about the worst possible time.
No sugarcoating this one. Does it open the door somewhat for Brandon Maurer? You’d have to think so. It didn’t help Beavan’s cause, that’s for sure. Beavan did throw 100 pitches, so he built his arm up. But the quality of pitches was hit-and-miss. The selection was also somewhat iffy.
Again, it’s one spring training outing and the decision won’t be based off this day alone. Beavan’s curveball also showed promise and really fooled some hitters. But today, he looked like a work-in-progress. No idea what the Mariners will do with the rotation now. If Beavan had any type of an edge heading into today, you’d have to think this narrows it somewhat. I’m thinking the team hopes Jeremy Bonderman really looks good his next time out. Again, though, bad as it looked, it’s only one Cactus League game. We’ll see what Eric Wedge has to say later.
2:16 p.m.: The third inning did not go well at all for Blake Beavan, who served up consecutive homers to left-handed batting Cord Phelps and Jason Giambi and now trails 3-2. A leadoff single by Mike Aviles was followed by Phelps cranking a first-pitch slider over the wall in right-center for a two-run shot. Beavan then continued to pound Giambi inside with fastballs as he did the final two pitches his last time up. But after taking a first-pitch ball this time, Giambi saw his fourth straight inside fastball from Beavan (over two ABs) and didn’t miss it, putting it over the same wall in right-center for a Cleveland lead. You have to be careful with veteran hitters. When you keep showing them the same pitch over and over again, they’ll eventually time their swing to catch up — even at age 42.
12:48 p.m.: Well, we saw Blake Beavan give up two more singles that inning before again pitching out of it with help from shortstop Robert Andino snaring a line drive. But the big story unfolding here in a game the Mariners lead 2-0 in the second inning is that Jesus Montero had to leave in the top of the frame with a nasty looking welt on the right side of his forehead after being caught on the backswing by the bat of Francisco Lindor. Montero crumpled to the dirt in obvious pain and lay there for several long moments as a bevy of trainers and Mariner manager Eric Wedge tended to him.
Montero finally sat up, woozily, and later was carted off towards the clubhouse.
This is potentially a big deal because Montero has had concussion issues before. He’ll obviously get tested and all that and if he does have a concussion, he won’t be able to break camp with the team. The only other catcher still in major league camp after Kelly Shoppach is Jesus Sucre and he’s not on the roster. If Sucre needs to be added to the roster, then that could impact other players the Mariners are looking to carry north with them.
For one thing, you have Kameron Loe with an opt-out clause that could be triggered as early as Monday. Would the Mariners be willing to guarantee Loe that roster spot, knowing that they might need to use one on a second catcher? Remember, they also have Jeremy Bonderman being looked at as a non-roster starting pitcher.
Clearly, the first concern is Montero’s health, then the catching situation and then the other roster rammifications. But that ugly forehead lump now has the potential to be felt by quite a few players other than Montero. We’ll pass the word along when we get it, but this might take a while, given all the stuff that needs to be looked at medical-wise.
For those wondering about Mike Zunino, like Sucre, he’d also have to be added to the roster and a player taken off. That is an option for the team, but it’s doubtful that move is made. Sucre is the one still here in camp catching and there’s a reson for it. If there are no roster benefits to taking Zunino over Sucre, I doubt the club starts his service clock time early.
1:32 p.m.: Blake Beavan gave up two singles to a pair of left-handed hitters (though the first was a broken-bat job) to put runners at the corners with one out. But then, in the key at-bat of the inning against Jason Giambi, Beavan did a good job of showing him some sliders and then busting him inside with a pair of well-located fastballs. The second of those was popped up by Giambi for the second out of the inning. Brad Miller, starting at third today, made a nice play on a hard grounder by Matt Carson going to his left after that and got the force out at second to end the inning.
Beavan did throw one curveball that inning with the count 0-1 to Carson and it completely froze the hitter. It landed right on the bottom part of the zone, but was called a ball. I liked the pitch. Let’s see if he throws a few more. Beavan calls it his “out” pitch so he clearly likes it a lot.
1:11 p.m.: For some pitchers — Joe Saunders being one example — there isn’t a bunch of emphasis placed on spring training starts. But when you’re a younger guy like Beavan, trying to overhaul your delivery from one season to the next, the team is going to be anxious about whether he can pull it off in games. And so, yes, this start has plenty of meaning for Beavan. I can tell you he’s looking at it that way. Competition brings out a lot in guys. We saw how Felix Hernandez rose to the occasion last night when the Padres got a couple of hits off him. The best can do that.
Other guys? They can sometimes fold under the pressure. And that’s also part of making decisions in spring training, because there is pressure in every regular season game. You want the guys you know can perform when the heat is on. So, that makes this afternoon’s contest just a little more interesting.
The Indians have stacked their lineup with lefties and switch-hitters in six of the nine spots, so Beavan will have his work cut out for him.
Beavan will face Scott Kazmir — yes, him — who is attempting a comeback after two years away from the majors.
Casper Wells is back in center field today, speaking of the heat being on. He’s gotten a monster challenge from Jason Bay this spring.