M’s Move Forward On Tragic Weekend

The Mariners had an eventful weekend, to say the least. There was bad news on Friday, a tragedy on Saturday, and then a move toward the future on Sunday.

First, the tragedy.

The Tacoma Rainiers offer their condolences to the family and friends of Mariners pitching prospect Victor Sanchez, who passed away on Saturday.

Sanchez spent roughly six weeks in a coma after being struck by the propeller of a boat while swimming off the coast of his native Venezuela in early February. The 20-year-old was an excellent pitching prospect, but the outpouring of messages via social media indicate that he was a great teammate and good friend of many.

Sanchez never played for Tacoma, but several Rainiers players from last year had previously been teammates with him. There is more on Sanchez in the links below.

On Friday, Major League Baseball gave Mariners reliever David Rollins an 80-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs.

Rollins appeared to be the favorite to win the last spot in the Mariners bullpen – the second left-hander, replacing the since-departed Joe Beimel from last year’s squad.

There is further confusion because Rollins was a Rule 5 Draft selection from the Houston Astros. The Mariners were required to keep him in the majors all season, or else return him to Houston. The is new territory – MLB will have to make a ruling on what the Mariners and Astros are going to do about this.

On Sunday the Mariners had a big round of roster moves, nearly setting their opening day roster.

The moves settled two of the position battles in Mariners camp: Taijuan Walker made the starting rotation over Roenis Elias, and Jesus Sucre hung on to the backup catcher slot over challenger John Baker.

Here is the complete list of roster moves:

Optioned to AAA Tacoma (2):

Left-Handed Pitcher (1):    Roenis Elias

Right-Handed Pitcher (1):  Carson Smith

Re-Assigned to Minor League Camp (8):

Right-handed Pitchers (3): Mark Lowe, Jordan Pries, Kevin Correia

Left-Handed Pitchers (1):  Joe Saunders

Infielders (2):                    Shawn O’Malley, Carlos Rivero

Catcher (1):                      John Baker

Outfielder (1):                   Endy Chavez

Everyone listed above will open the season with Tacoma if they are still in the organization on April 9. Major League veterans like Endy Chavez, Baker, Kevin Correia, and Joe Saunders may have contractual language that allows them to become free agents before opening day. This information is rarely released to the public, so all we can do is wait and see what happens.

The organization currently has too many Triple-A caliber players, so there are going to be some cuts (do they want both Endy Chavez and Franklin Gutierrez in the Tacoma outfield along with Stefen Romero and James Jones?) or trades (sorry no speculation from me) or surprising Double-A assignments (D.J. Peterson? Patrick Kivlehan?) prior to next Friday.

Links:

Tacoma Rainiers single game tickets are available now for the entire season. Make your plans early to get the best seats!

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