There was no way Mariners manager Eric Wedge was ever going to declare Jeremy Bonderman out of the race for a starting rotation role without talking to him first. But he went about as far as he possibly could after today’s game to indicate — without actually doing so — that he’d like Bonderman to go to Class AAA and prepare himself to possibly rejoin the Mariners later on in the regular season.
Look, you don’t have to have an advanced degree in pitching to see that Bonderman is not ready to pitch in a regular season game next week. He hit the wall in the fifth inning of this 11-6 loss to the Royals in the first Cactus League outing he’s had to go longer than four frames.
Pitching in minor league games — as Bonderman did last week — is not the same as throwing to major league hitters who can work counts as extend innings like the Royals did today.
“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow and go from there,” Wedge said. “But ultimately, it’s a unique situation. What we’re trying to do is put everybody in the best position to succeed and the best position this year — whether it be right away or at some point in time later.”
That last sentence tells you all you need to know. Wedge says he has a pretty good idea in his mind what the rotation will be and will announce it following some discussions with pitchers and staffers the next day or two.
Barring a trade, though, the rotation will clearly be Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Joe Saunders, Blake Beavan and Brandon Maurer.
Mariners were, quite correctly it turns out, worried that Bonderman’s lack of deep pitch counts this spring might impact him since he hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2010. Bonderman had been breezing along all spring with lower innings totals and in minor league stints until — bam — along came that 30-pitch fifth inning.
He’d been at 47 pitches through four and feeling great. Then, the fifth got extended, his velocity dropped and he struggled to get anybody out.
“He’s still getting to territories where he hasn’t really been yet,” Wedge said. “We’re talking about pitch counts and getting deep into games. It was important for him to come back in, at least go back out there that last inning to push himself along. He’s had a good camp, he’s come a long way from the way he was throwing the ball earlier in camp. What we saw, especially earlier on today, it was a considerable difference.”
That last inning, he had Brett Hayes down 0-2, then saw the at-bat prolonged to eight pitches before giving up a line drive single as you’ll see in the video below. By that point, Bonderman’s fastball was being clocked in the mid-80s.
Bonderman admitted he simply ran out of gas.
“I was definitely tired,’’ Bonderman said. “I definitely had some fatigue. It wasn’t the best stuff I’ve had. It definitely wasn’t what I was hoping for.
“I was rolling along pretty good and then I got smacked in the mouth.’’
Michael Morse caused a stir in the seventh inning when he actually cleared the top of the 40-foot-high batter’s eye in straightaway center field for a home run that cut the Royals’ lead at the time to 7-6. The blast was one of the longest home runs every witnessed at Peoria Stadium and you can see it in the video below.
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