I just got back to my pleasantly air conditioned hotel room after sitting in sweltering heat at the Maryvale complex watching the Mariners-Brewers Triple-A game.
It was cooking out there. Aluminum bleachers sitting on concrete, no shade, no breeze, no clouds – I managed to work up a sweat while doing nothing. Yuck. But… does that count as a workout?
The Rainiers lost. I think it was 6-4, but once again there was no scoreboard – although each of the half-innings had three outs, so that was nice. They played the bottom of the ninth inning, even though Nashville (the Brewers Triple-A team) had already won. This was so that Robert Rohrbaugh could get an extra inning of work.
Here was today’s starting line-up – by position; I didn’t write down the exact batting order:
- C – Eliezor Alfonzo
- 1B – Tommy Everidge
- 2B – Leury Bonilla
- SS – Travis Denker
- 3B – Matt Mangini
- LF – Michael Saunders
- CF – Ezequiel Carrera
- RF – Mike Wilson
- DH – Brad Nelson
- P – Chris Seddon
While the outfield might be exactly what we see on April 8, the infield is still in a state of flux. The Mariners still have Matt Tuiasosopo, Chris Woodward, and Josh Wilson in major league camp. Two of those three are likely to be sent to Tacoma before Monday.
Some quick hits from a steamy afternoon:
- Chris Seddon started and allowed three runs in the first inning, and he ended up leaving after five, trailing 5-4. There was some chatter that he has a little extra bite to his slider this season.
- Mike Koplove pitched a scoreless sixth inning. I know he didn’t allow a run in major league camp – it’s possible he’s working on a shutout spring training. He’s going to be a very nice bullpen piece for Tacoma, and he’s a guy who can certainly help the major league team in a pinch.
- Mumba Rivera pitched the seventh, giving up a run. I’m hearing that Rivera has been told he is going to Class-AA West Tennessee to start the season.
- Rohrbaugh pitched two scoreless innings, mixing his deceptive mid-80s fastball with a super-slow change-up and a slider. He’ll open the season in AA but might return to Tacoma during the season.
- Brad Nelson is batting 1.000 this spring when I am watching. He singled when I saw him yesterday, and today I saw him a ground a base hit up the middle, and later he yanked a rocket down the right field line for a double.
- Ryan Feierabend was behind home plate, charting pitches. He’s returning from ‘Tommy John’ surgery on his left elbow, and we’ll see him in Tacoma this year. He’s still building up strength and says that his command has come back quicker than his velocity – which is a bit unusual for pitchers returning from this surgery. He feels great, he crossed the 40-pitch barrier in his last start, and he looks forward to joining the Rainiers soon.
- I chatted briefly with new pitching coach Jaime Navarro – I needed to pronounce his name right. His fellow coaches are using the Americanized version of his first name, ‘Jamie.’ However I remember from his playing days (he won 116 major league games) that his name was pronounced in the Spanish way – ‘Hi-me.’ He said either pronunciation is fine with him, but ESPN always called him ‘Hi-me.’ Since ESPN is The Worldwide Leader In Sports, I’m going with that pronunciation on the air this year. But if you see him at the ballpark, he answers to both. The Navarro’s are from Puerto Rico – Jaime’s father Julio pitched for the Tacoma Giants in 1961 and 1962.
- A dark cloud passed over the field when Natural Born Rainiers Killer Trent Oeltjen came to the plate for Nashville. Nobody did more damage against the Rainiers last year than Oeltjen – he played for Reno, and in 15 games against Tacoma he had 22 hits, 4 triples, 4 homers, and 16 RBI. Manager Daren Brown saw him, crossed himself, looked to the sky and said “thank goodness we only play Nashville four times this season.”
That’s it for today. There will be intersquad games tomorrow, and rumor has it that Felix Hernandez is going to pitch in the Triple-A game. That will be fun – an opportunity to see one of the best players in the world, pitching on what is essentially a well-groomed high school field. And anyone who walks up will be able to watch it, for free, from the closest seats you can possibly imagine.