Despite his disastrous outing last night, and his 16.20 ERA after two starts, Brandon Maurer is remaining in the Mariners’ rotation. He will start Sunday against the Texas Rangers. Manager Eric Wedge said it was a done deal once he found out that Maurer was OK after being hit in the right thigh by a line drive last night. I asked him if there was any discussion of pulling Maurer out of the rotation, and he said, “No, no discussion of that at all. Just his health.”
Wedge said he still believes in Maurer, and that he will ultimately be stronger because of his struggles.
“It’s going to end up being part of his DNA. He’s a guy who went out and took it in spring training, took a spot on the team. He has great stuff. He’s going to be a good major-league pitcher. He’ll just have to go through some things early on, like most of them do. And you register it, you learn from it, and you’re better for it. You’re a little bit wiser, a little bit tougher, for what you went through. It will be a part of who he is, just like any of us.”
Maurer, who was understandably downcast when he met the media last night, was more upbeat today.
“I kind of took last night to think about it, and let it go,” he said. “Just flush that one down, go out there and do it again next time.”
With what he hopes will be different results, of course.
“I actually felt pretty good last night,” Maurer said. “I left a few balls up. They hit a few good pitches in the there. I think I threw a few good pitches in there that found a hole. It seemed to be the case the whole day yesterday.”
Maurer met today with pitching coach Carl Willis to discuss what went wrong, and how he can fix it.
“In reviewing the video, a lot of pitches were in the center of the plate,” Willis said. “I think we saw in spring training a little better command. I don’t think it’s anything mechanical as much as I think it’s his first couple major league starts, him being maybe a little more intense. He’s an intense young man, maybe a little more intense than normal.
“We still have a lot of belief in him. Spring training is spring training; everyone knows that it is different. But, at the same time, it’s Arizona spring and doing what he did, particularly late in camp against lineups that at that point were clubs that had six, sometimes seven of their regulars in the lineup. You can’t discard that. I don’t think anything that abnormal is going on. We still have confidence in him and I’m sure for his peace of mind, a good outing would be good.”
One solution, Willis said, might be to simplify things for Maurer.
“Maybe a little less information, a little less gameplanning,” he said. “Just have him go out and pitch solely his ballgame, his strengths. That may help his confidence a little bit. That may eliminate some of the thinking.”
Meanwhile, reliever Bobby LaFromboise arrived from Sacramento wearing the familiar, but always heartwarming, look of someone in his first day in the major leagues, and thrilled to be there. He got a call in his hotel room last night just after midnight from Tacoma manager Daren Brown, telling LaFromboise to come up to his room.
“The Mariner game had just finished, and I don’t really put anything together ever,” he said. “I kind of worry about what I’m doing where I’m at. So when he told me, I was blown away. I was just hanging out with a couple of roommates and friends. It was a big shock to me.
“I went back down to my room and called my dad. I made one phone call; it was just to my dad. I couldn’t get through it. Teared up. And then I had to talk to my mom, and that was worse. Because it’s Mom. It was just a great feeling to be able to make that phone call to them, and say, hey, I made it.”
I asked LaFromboise if his father, Joe, a tire salesman in Covina, Calif., coached him in youth baseball. That prompted an answer I wasn’t expecting.
“Actually, when I was in high school, I yelled at him, from the mound, because he would yell at me. I kind of got fed up with it. Ever since then, he’s been my biggest fan, by far. I kind of just said, ‘Hey, Dad, shut up.’ He’s never said a word since. He can’t sit in a seat when I’m pitching. He’s wandering around with his camera somewhere.”
Why was his dad yelling at him? “I wasn’t throwing strikes, probably. I don’t know.”
LaFromboise had never set foot in Safeco Field until he arrived today.
“Walking up those steps, stepping on that field, I was in awe,” he said. “For my first time to be on the team was a big shock to me, but I’m on cloud nine right now.”
LaFromboise might well find himself in tonight’s game, considering the Mariners’ bullpen situation. Wedge said LaFromboise impressed the staff in spring training.,
“It was nothing, really, in regards to Lucas (Luetge),” Wedge said of the transaction. “It was just he had options, and he threw three innings last night, and we needed another arm. When you have a night like last night, it’s not just about the next day, but it could potentially even go longer than that.”