On Wednesday, the Seattle Mariners pitchers and catchers officially report to spring training camp in Peoria, Arizona.
The Mariners have really loaded up the invite list for major league spring training this year, and the competition for spots on both the Mariners and the Rainiers roster is going to be fierce.
The Mariners have officially invited 31 healthy pitchers to spring training. That’s a lot.
Figure that the M’s are going to carry 11 or 12 pitchers on opening day. Then the Rainiers are going to have 12 pitchers on opening day. That means that about seven pitchers are going to be invited to major league spring training – and then won’t even make the Triple-A roster.
In Peoria, the biggest battles will be for the Mariners #5 starter role, and the long men in the major league bullpen.
Candidates for the Mariners fifth starter include Doug Fister, Luke French, Garrett Olson, Yusmeiro Petit, Jason Vargas, and Nick Hill.
Unless injuries hit during camp, there is only going to be one winner in that battle. The remainder will fight for a major league bullpen job, or else head to Tacoma and be in the Rainiers rotation.
There is additional competition to make the Rainiers rotation. Chris Seddon is back and in camp. Triple-A veteran David Pauley was signed to a minor league contract. Ryan Feierabend is progressing in his return from elbow surgery, and he is still only 24 years old. Danny Cortes is a hard thrower who might be ready for a promotion from Double-A.
And then there is Steven Shell. Some of you may remember the scary moment when he was hit in the cheek by a line drive late last season. Well, Steven healed up, and he spent the winter pitching in the highly competitive Venezuelan League. Shell was used as a starter there, and the Mariners re-signed him and brought him to camp.
As for the catchers, well… let’s save that or Wednesday.