Today on the back fields of the Peoria Sports Complex it was Mariners Minor Leaguers vs. Mariners Minor Leaguers, with lots of major league pitchers getting work in the game.
There were actually two of these cannibalistic games going on, one pitting mostly Triple-A and Double-A players against one another, and on another field it was Class-A players squaring off. I watched the advanced-level game, where several Mariners pitchers were taking turns on the mound.
Taijuan Walker started, and he worked the equivalent of three “innings” facing a team made up mostly of Triple-A hitters. Walker looked rusty – he did not have his good command, and he reached a pitch limit before recording three outs in each of the first two innings (they just end the inning and change sides when this happens; it’s called “rolling over.”). Walker did bounce back and pitch a clean 1-2-3 third inning.
Walker threw a total of 48 pitches. My understanding is that the tentative plan is for Walker to make two or three rehabilitation starts for High Desert with the hope that he’ll be ready to join the Mariners in mid-April.
Xavier Avery greeted Walker with a long triple over the head of the center fielder, and Chris Taylor followed with a walk. Walker threw away a pickoff attempt for an error, allowing Avery to score. Walker then struck out Jabari Blash and Jesus Montero, then the first inning was halted.
In Walker’s second inning, Mike Dowd singled and D.J. Peterson walked (a disappointing result to a potentially interesting showdown), then Cole Gillespie hit a broken-bat bloop double down the right field line to drive in a run. Two more runs scored later that inning, one on a wild pitch.
Brandon Maurer started the game for the other team, pitching one scoreless inning. One batter reached against him: outfield prospect Julio Morban, who just returned from a broken leg, hit a long double off Maurer.
Fernando Rodney tossed two scoreless innings, including an out recorded on a grounder to shortstop when first baseman Montero made a terrific grab of an errant throw. I was sitting with Seattle Times writer Ryan Divish at this point, and Divish said Montero looked as nimble as a mongoose. I’m still pondering that analogy.
Then it was Stephen Pryor‘s turn to pitch. He struck out the first two batters he faced, then he allowed three straight hits including a long triple by Jackson third baseman Ramon Morla before the inning was halted. It doesn’t look like Pryor will be ready for the Mariners bullpen by opening day, but it shouldn’t be much longer after that.
I bumped into a few guys around the fields.
Andrew Carraway is in line to be a member of the Rainiers starting rotation. He had a good off-season, tried to streamline his mechanics a little bit, and is ready to go.
Rich Poythress did not play today, but he said his arm is fine after yesterday’s mishap (details in yesterday’s post) and it’s no big deal. I’m sure he – like I – is curious to see how the opening day rosters shake out.
One of my neighbors in this hotel is Brandon Bantz – I ran into him in the hallway; he said he’s having a good spring and hopes to break camp with Tacoma. Bantz chopped a double over the third baseman’s head in today’s game; if I recall correctly that hit came against Hector Noesi.
On the coaching side, I saw Dwight Bernard last night – he’s the Fresno pitching coach this year, and we’ll see him in the opposing dugout later this summer. Dwight’s happy with his new organization.
Scott Steinmann (manager) and Brent Johnson (coach) are going to be leading the Mariners Class-A Clinton affiliate this year.
Daren Brown (baserunning and bunting instructor) is getting acclimated to his first non-managerial job in the organization. He’ll rove around the farm system, and hopes to visit Tacoma this summer.
Rainiers trainers Tom Newberg and BJ Downie are ready to, well, train. Downie spent part of his winter with the Cardinales de Lara in Venezuela, and fortunately he left shortly before the political situation got bad.
I have not seen John Stearns yet. He’s still recovering from hernia surgery, and he’s not supposed to be at the ballpark. Apparently he shows up sometimes anyway; I’m looking for him.
On behalf of the entire Tacoma Rainiers organization, let’s send positive thoughts in the direction of Oklahoma City RedHawks manager Tony DeFrancesco, who was diagnosed with cancer and will not manage the team until he is ready.
Tony D is one of my favorites in the PCL – fans will remember him as the perpetually winning manager of the Sacramento River Cats, and now he’s been with Oklahoma City the last three seasons (he also spent some time as the Houston Astros interim manager). He’s managed in the PCL for ten years.
Get healthy, Tony D.
- Even though there are still 38 players in big league camp, the Mariners roster is just about set. Bob Dutton has the story.
- It was decision day for some veterans in camp today: Endy Chavez agreed to report to Tacoma, so you can ink him on the Rainiers roster. Humberto Quintero is going to explore his options but the Mariners hope he agrees to come to Tacoma. Finally, Randy Wolf declined to renegotiate his contract and elected free agency – and this was after he was told he made the Mariners rotation.
- Long-time prospect expert Jim Callis has a write-up of the Mariners farm system.
- Shannon Drayer has a thorough investigation of how the Mariners ended up with Roenis Elias. Sounds like good scouting to me.
- In Monday’s exhibition game, Blake Beavan had a rough inning and the Mariners lost to the White Sox.
- The Cleveland Indians reassigned former Rainiers first baseman Bryan LaHair to minor league camp. Look for him to destroy the International League this season. Bryan played in Japan last season.
- This is kind of cool: former Rainiers third baseman Greg Dobbs is closing in on 100 career pinch-hits.
- Here is the story from the Daily Oklahoman on Tony DeFrancesco. Tom Lawless will serve as interim manager.
I got a surprise today – Wednesday’s Triple-A game against Texas (Round Rock) was moved from Peoria to Surprise, and bumped up to 11:00 AM. I’m going to it, but I’m not sure if I’ll have time to blog about it until Thursday morning. We’ll see how that goes.