Lots of news from the weekend, so let’s jump right in:
The Mariners made their first series of spring training roster moves over the weekend, thinning out big league camp a bit.
Here’s our annual clarification on the terminology: when a player is “re-assigned to minor league camp” he is on a minor league contract and can be assigned to any affiliate, which will be determined right before the season starts. When a player is “optioned to Tacoma” (or Jackson, or any other specific club), that player is on the Mariners 40-man roster and one of his three option years was just used.
So, the moves:
Optioned to Double-A Jackson:
- outfielder Guillermo Heredia.
The Cuban outfielder hasn’t played in nearly two years, so the M’s are sending him to Double-A to get at-bats and see how it goes from there.
Re-assigned to minor league camp:
- pitchers Paul Fry, Brad Mills and Danny Hultzen
- catchers Marcus Littlewood and Steven Lerud
- infielders Benji Gonzalez and Tyler Smith
- outfielders Mike Baxter and Dario Pizzano
Mills and Hultzen are both battling injury issues. Fry, Lerud, Smith, and Baxter are likely Rainiers players – and possibly Pizzano and Gonzalez, too.
- first baseman Gaby Sanchez
There just wasn’t room in the majors or Triple-A for Sanchez, especially after the signing of Efren Navarro.
Claimed on waivers:
- catcher Rob Brantly
Brantly has MLB time with the Miami Marlins and Chicago White Sox. He’ll compete with Steve Clevenger to make the big league club.
Of course, there were exhibition games all weekend. Here are some notes on how possible Rainiers players did:
Friday: Mariners 5, Giants 4
Efren Navarro had his first hit of the spring, a triple… Chris Taylor doubled off Giants prospect Clayton Blackburn, driving in a run in his lone at-bat… likely Rainiers starting pitcher Donn Roach delivered two scoreless innings.
Saturday: Dodgers 8, Mariners 4 (split squad)
With two games on Saturday, the M’s sent most of the starting lineup to play the Dodgers but some Rainiers did get in there… infielder Tyler Smith went 1-for-2 with a double… Daniel Robertson batted twice and walked twice.
Saturday: Mariners 5, Reds 2 (split squad)
Stefen Romero went 0-for-3, and his Cactus League batting average slipped under the .500 mark all the way down to .450, the poor guy… Efren Navarro went 1-for-2 with a double and a walk… catcher Steve Baron hit a double… Shawn O’Malley went 2-for-2 with a triple.
Sunday: Reds 5, Mariners 3
Boog Powell drove in a pair of runs with a single… Shawn O’Malley doubled and scored… Joe Wieland pitched three innings and struck out four, but he allowed two runs… Mayckol Guaipe and Blake Parker each tossed a scoreless inning in relief.
The Pride of Port Orchard has retired. Willie Bloomquist hung up his spikes after an impressively long 14-year career spent mostly as a utility infielder.
Bloomquist played for Tacoma in 2000, 2002, and a couple of rehabilitation games in 2004.
Here’s a brief Bloomquist memory from Cheney Stadium:
The Mariners drafted Bloomquist in 1999, after his junior year at Arizona State. He was home for the summer in Port Orchard, and a few days after the draft (but before signing his contract) he attended a Rainiers game.
We had a public relations intern named Jeff Evans, who would go on to spend many years on the Mariners PR staff. Jeff had previously interned at Arizona State and knew Bloomquist. Jeff saw Willie, went down in the stands and brought him up to the trailer on top of the roof where we used to broadcast the games from. I interviewed him during the game – he was about to sign his contract and head to Everett to start his pro career. To this date, it’s the only time I’ve ever had a Mariners draft pick on the air before signing his contract. It’s probably the only time that will ever happen.
Congratulations to Willie for the long career. Fourteen years in the big leagues!
- John Sickels posted his Mariners Top-20 Prospects list.
- It’s Mariners preview day on Baseball Prospectus’s “Effectively Wild” podcast, and I’m one of the guests.
- Bob Dutton has an update on the position battles to make the Mariners opening day roster.
- First baseman Gaby Sanchez was released – there just wasn’t room for him, Ryan Divish writes.
- With left-handed reliever Charlie Furbush battling some injury issues, the M’s are moving Mike Montgomery to the bullpen. This greatly increases Montgomery’s chances of making the team.
- Insightful stuff here from Larry Stone, who has ten observations after spending ten days at Mariners camp.
- Some recaps with major league notes from the weekend’s games: a “listless” loss to the Reds on Sunday… on Saturday the M’s split up the squad and played two games, splitting them, making it a true split squad day – James Paxton‘s strong four-inning start was a highlight… and on Friday, Hisashi Iwakuma tossed three scoreless innings in a 5-4 win over the Giants.
- Felix Hernandez makes his spring debut today.
- Jeff Sullivan took a look at the career of Willie Bloomquist.
- We’ll finish up with an Associated Press story on Ichiro‘s pursuit of 3,000 MLB hits. He’s 65 hits away, and playing time will be the hardest thing for him to get.