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Well, that wraps up another year of spring training at Peoria Stadium, with the Mariners winning their Cactus League home finale 10-7 over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Michael Morse hit his eighth homer this spring, tying Mike Wilson’s franchise mark set back in 2009. Mariners manager Eric Wedge didn’t bother sticking around until the end, getting tossed from the game in the sixth by home plate umpire Seth Buckminster after he came out of the dugout to jaw with the ump. Buckminster had been chirping back and forth with Felix Hernandez and Wedge wasn’t about to let that continue, taking his first ever spring training ejection.
We caught up with Wedge in the clubhouse just before the game ended. Wedge confirmed the entire roster is set, other than the battle for the fifth outfield spot between Jason Bay and Casper Wells. My take? Well, I’d say it’s already been decided in Bay’s favor.
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What I think is going on here is that the Mariners have put Wells on waivers and are just waiting to find out whether or not he’s cleared. If the Mariners were really going to make a late trade — say, for Chris Capuano of the Dodgers, which I was told yesterday was highly unlikely — then they would not have named their remaining starting pitchers today.
A trade of either Wells or Bay these final days of camp would also have to bring back only a minor league depth guy, since the major league roster will be full once Bay or Wells is jettisoned. Just not feeling it, but you never know.
Given all the positive things Wedge had to say about his veteran players still in camp, I’d be stunned if he let Bay go now.
As for the rest of the team, Wedge has yet to officially confirm it, but did indicate that he’s carrying three left-handed relievers in the bullpen to start, so that means Lucas Luetge will indeed be on the team and right-hander Danny Farquhar won’t. The team has already spoken with some non-roster guys like Farquhar and younger players like Brad Miller and indicated that some will be taken to Salt Lake City to be used as depth in Saturday’s game there. But it’s not like they’re making the major league squad. Wedge told me Miller will likely begin the season in Class AA because of the infield depth the organization has in AAA. In other words, Miller needs to play. But Wedge made clear he views Miller as a pure shortstop, meaning — my words — he is now the team’s “shortstop of the future” and not Nick Franklin. But the Mariners will still play Miller at second and thrid base for versatility reasons.
For those wondering, Franklin Gutierrez was supposed to play only a limited number of innings. He’d been skedded for two at-bats, but asked for a third and was allowed to stay on for it.
Wedge spoke with praise about Brandon Maurer and why he was selected for the starting rotation.
“He came in here and he took it,” Wedge said. “He had a great camp. You’re talking about a young man that has multiple plus-pitches. And the way it worked out, he faced a lot of big league lineups. In regard to how it played out, with the different teams that he pitched against, he handled them well. In different types of situations he had to handle, he handled them well. He showed great stuff, had great poise and had some presence out there. So, he came in and took it.”
Wedge said he slotted Maurer fourth to make him as comfortable as possible heading into his big league debut Thursday in Oakland. Remember, no Mariners pitcher has made as big an Opening Day jump from the minors to the majors as this since Mike Hampton and John Cummings vaulted out of High Class A ball in 1993.
“I feel like it’s a good spot for him,” Wedge said. “It’s the final day in Oakland, it’s a day game. So, I feel like it’s a good spot for him in regard to that it’s someplace he’s been settled in for a few days and he can get up and come to the ballpark.”
Don’t forget, Maurer will be flying on the team jet for the first time, getting used to big league hotels, the feel of a big league ballpark, restaurants, and all that stuff that comes with life in the majors. It can be quite overwhelming for young players.
That’s not the case with Blake Beavan, who has already tasted the bigs in parts of three seasons.
“It’s not just about this camp,” Wedge said of how starters are chosen. “It’s about their path to get here, what they’ve already accomplished, their professional background, the intangibles that I keep talking about. So, all of that comes into consideration. One thing about Blake is, he’s never satisfied. He’s always working to get better. And he finds a way to win ballgames. He’s already gained some great experience in his young career. So, that, on top of…some adjustments he’s made and continues to make, that’s why he’s on this ballclub.”
As for Erasmo Ramirez, Wedge just wants to see him build up his arm in AAA. Same with Bonderman, who I mentioned before.
“We really want him to keep going,” Wedge said. “That’s what we feel like he needs to do. He’s been very impressive in this camp. But he, too, is still building himself up and working his way back. But you’ve seen the progression from whether it be the first bullpen or the first game, to where he was the other day. But he just needs to keep pitching. We really feel like if he goes down and he pitches like we hope he does, that he’s going to pitch for us in the big leagues this year.”
Felix Hernandez struggled with some command issues at times during his 97-pitch outing that saw him allow three runs over six innings. He struck out three and walked one batter. But really, for him, it’s all about getting the heck out of Arizona at this point.
“It’s been a long spring training,” he said. “I just want to get out of here. Just go out for Opening Day.”
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