Notes From Media Day

The Mariners held their annual pre-spring training media day at Safeco Field on Thursday, and I was there to get some news. Most of the focus is on the major league squad, but the Mariners make sure to always have the farm director and usually at least one Triple-A level player available.

We’ll leave the major league news for the major league writers – check the links down below. As for the Triple-A tidbits that impact the Rainiers, let’s do it bullet-points style.

  • Stefen Romero is one of four Mariners players who attended, and the only one who I think might play for Tacoma in 2014. Romero played in 93 games for Tacoma during an injury-riddled 2013 season, batting .277 with 11 homers and 74 RBI. Many of the questions Romero was asked concerned his defense and what position he would play – Romero said he sees himself as a multi-position player, and that he has worked mostly on his outfield play during the off-season. Romero also made it clear that he understands that his bat is key for reaching the major leagues.
  • Jack Z also talked about Romero, noting that the fact he is right-handed plays to his favor. Currently, the Mariners lineup is extremely left-handed.
  • Zduriencik was asked about Nick Franklin and what position he would play. Jack said he has spoken to Nick, and told him that he wanted to see Franklin come to spring training and compete for the shortstop job. This is a story that will be followed throughout spring training.
  • Mariners (and former Rainiers) trainer Rob Nodine gave the health report, and he included an update on Rainiers pitcher Danny Hultzen and his recovery from shoulder surgery. Nodine said Hultzen “is progressing, and is on the verge of starting an interval throwing program in Arizona.” That sounds good, but keep in mind he is not expected to pitch in 2014.
  • Manager Lloyd McClendon was asked an interesting question about Taijuan Walker: if in his past he had ever seen a young pitcher come up to the big leagues in September, and then have expectations placed on him the following April. He said he saw a comparable situation in Detroit, with Justin Verlander. We can only hope it works out that well for Taijuan! Bob Dutton wrote about this – the link is down below.
  • The team announced that veteran outfielder Endy Chavez has been re-signed to a minor league contract. Chavez opened the 2013 season with Tacoma and was quickly promoted to the big leagues – a scenario that does not seem far-fetched for a repeat this year.
  • I asked Director of Player Development Chris Gwynn about going outside the organization to hire Rainiers manager Rich Donnelly, and he said that Donnelly’s “resume speaks for itself.” He also noted that Lloyd McClendon is comfortable with Donnelly, and in terms of bringing in a new face he “just felt it was time.” Gwynn also added that Tacoma “should have a pretty good team, let’s see if they can put it together.”
  • I think the most important part of Gwynn’s response was Donnelly’s familiarity with McClendon. The Mariners new manager didn’t get to hire many of his own major league coaches, but he did get someone he knows and trusts in Triple-A.
  • Chatting with Gwynn at lunch, he seemed unsure about how the Rainiers roster will break down, considering the number of players in the mix. He said they’ll use the seven weeks of spring training to sort it out.
  • Gwynn did, however, indicate that the Rainiers should have a very impressive bullpen. There will be some power arms in the ‘pen.

Overall, it was another successful event run by the Mariners PR Department. This always gets me thinking about the new season.

Links:

  • The Seattle Times has a notebook from yesterday’s event.
  • On August 9, the Mariners will induct Lou Piniella into their team hall of fame.
  • As part of the event yesterday, the Mariners announced their promotional giveaway schedule. Beard Hat Night is back, thank goodness.
  • There is word from the Seattle Times that the Mariners have decided on a new team president.
  • John McGrath wrote about Lloyd McClendon and Pete Carroll.
  • Bob Dutton has a piece on Taijuan Walker‘s reaction to being named in off-season trade rumors. Good story.
  • Dutton also has a blog post on Walker and prospect rankings.
  • Fun blog post on a college player at Whitman who, while researching a paper, found a 1960 Tacoma Giants promotional roster. Pictures are here. I love the wording “Palatial Ben Cheney Stadium.”
  • I was hired to write the Mariners essay (important distinction: the Mariners essay only – I did not write the player comments) for the Baseball Prospectus annual book. Here is a preview of the book.
  • The pride of Central Kitsap High School and longtime Fresno Grizzlies outfielder Todd Linden has retired as a player – and the Giants immediately made him hitting coach for their Class-A team in Augusta, Georgia.
  • The New Orleans Zephyrs new manager is Andy Haines. Haines has coached and managed in the Marlins system for seven years, but he’ll be a rarity in the PCL: a manager who did not play professional baseball.
  • Matt Eddy reported on Twitter that the Dodgers signed former Rainiers outfielder Trayvon Robinson to a minor league contract. We could see a lot of him this year if he makes the Albuquerque roster.
  • Bay Area sports wiseass pundit Ray Ratto writes that Greg Maddux should go into the Hall of Fame as a Las Vegas 51.
  • Got an extra $750,000 in your pocket? You can buy Babe Ruth‘s 1923 World Series watch. It’s pretty awesome.
  • Red Sox star Jon Lester will be a free agent after the season, and he said he’s willing to take a hometown discount. Lester is from Tacoma, so… Jon Lester, Tacoma Rainiers ace in 2015! Wait, you mean Boston is the hometown now? Oh.

Have a good weekend – next week we’ll start the Rainiers position-by-position previews.

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