Zunino To Tacoma and Other Notes From Arizona

It was intrasquad day today on the back fields of Mariners spring training camp, with a pair of 10:00 AM games pitting Mariners against Mariners, with little regard for the rules of baseball.

Three outs in an inning? Not usually. A nine-man lineup? Nope. Batting out of turn? Encouraged!

Here are some of my notes from the game – a game which was still going when I left, as the teams seemed to be playing an unlimited number of innings.

  • Early today during a live radio interview with Mitch on KJR 950 AM, Mariners manager Eric Wedge said that catcher Mike Zunino will open the season in Tacoma. This will be fun!
  • Erasmo Ramirez started and was on a strict pitch count. He did not look sharp, and it appeared he was limited to 15-to-20 pitches per “inning” – once  he hit the number, the inning was declared over no matter how many outs there were. After the game, Ramirez was optioned to Tacoma.
  • Ramirez did not help himself in the first inning, fielding a comebacker and throwing the ball into center field on a potential double play.
  • The game was essentially a Triple-A versus Double-A match-up, except Ramirez started for the AA team, and Jackson starter Trevor Miller started for the AAA group. This way, the pitchers faced a more appropriate level of hitter.
  • Vinnie Catricala had an eventful day, starting in left field. He dropped a routine fly ball with two outs, allowing runs to score. He missed a cutoff man. He also launched a three-run homer off Hector Noesi. In the end, I think he drove in more runs than he allowed.
  • Speaking of Noesi, he had a very, very, very rough outing. The good news is there was no scoreboard, so we don’t know exactly how rough of an outing it was.
  • Potential Tacoma first baseman Rich Poythress continued to swing the bat, lining an opposite-field single off Ramirez.
  • Rainiers lefty Brian Moran doesn’t just excel at pitching. He also has tremendous bat boy skills, which he displayed at Field 6.
  • Scott Savastano saw a lot of time, making a nice play at third base charging a bunt, and contributing a hard RBI single which picked up speedy Eric Farris from second base.
  • Left-handed reliever Nick Hill stood on a mound and threw baseballs to hitters in a live game. This is notable, because he was once somewhat of a prospect before injuries wiped out the last two complete seasons. If he’s healthy we could see him in Tacoma at some point.
  • Infielder Nick Franklin has not played the last two days – I heard that he is nursing some sort of minor injury, perhaps a sprained ankle.
  • I wandered over to the Class-A game for an inning, wanting a glimpse of rising prospect Gabriel Guerrero. He was instantly identifiable: even from 300 feet away when he is standing in right field, he looks just like his uncle Vladimir.
  • Top prospect Victor Sanchez was pitching in the Class-A game. I’m not sure if he’s going to be the next CC Sabathia or the next Jumbo Diaz (photo). My point is that he is absolutely massive and not all in a good way.
  • I promised Rainiers manager Daren Brown that I would repeat his joke, so here goes: when he saw how un-tan I am, he asked if I spent the off-season working in a paste factory. I don’t write the jokes, guys, I just repeat them.
  • When I got to the big league press box, the Mariners announced their starting rotation: Felix, Iwakuma, Saunders, Maurer, and Beavan. Erasmo to Tacoma, and Jeremy Bonderman assigned to minor league camp. The media people are unsure if Bonderman is willing to accept an assignment to Tacoma.

Tomorrow, I’ll watch Tacoma take on the Tucson Padres in my final taste of spring training baseball.

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4 Responses to Zunino To Tacoma and Other Notes From Arizona

  1. Mac says:

    Any more thoughts on the Tacoma rotation now that the dust is somewhat settled? Let’s assume Bonderman accepts the assignment.

    • Mike Curto says:

      Too tough to call. More than five guys fit the Triple-A profile: Bonderman, Erasmo, Hultzen, Carraway, Paxton, Mitchell, Noesi… how they sort this out is going to be interesting.

  2. George says:

    Mike, what radio station will be carrying the games? I can’t find that info at the official Rainiers website. And Google doesn’t seem to have any up to date info regarding that.

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