The Mariners made some tough cuts this morning, sending three experienced players back to Tacoma.
James Paxton, Chris Taylor, and Stefen Romero were optioned to Tacoma on Monday. They join Shawn O’Malley, Joe Wieland, and Casey Coleman who were also sent to Tacoma over the weekend.
The Mariners decided to go with Nathan Karns as their fifth starter – solidifying a rotation of Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Wade Miley, Taijuan Walker, and Karns.
Paxton will effectively be the sixth starter. He’ll work in the Tacoma rotation, build up arm strength and be ready to go back to Seattle when needed.
Wieland will join Paxton in the Rainiers rotation.
By sending both Taylor and O’Malley to Tacoma, the Mariners have decided on Luis Sardinas as the utility infielder. He had a great camp, but O’Malley really pressured him with a strong showing of his own.
Look for a combination of O’Malley, Taylor, and Tyler Smith to be playing the up-the-middle infield positions for Tacoma. Benji Gonzalez is another player who could enter the mix.
The most surprising move today from my perspective was the optioning of Romero, who I thought might at least hang around for a few more days and possibly make the Mariners for the opening series (a postulate formed by Bob Dutton in the links down below). The move all but assures that Dae-Ho Lee has made the Mariners opening day roster.
Romero will see action at both first base and in the outfield for Tacoma. More importantly, he’ll hit in the middle of the Rainiers lineup: Romero has played in 245 career Triple-A games, with a slash line of .296/.340/.503.
Today’s moves left the Mariners with 33 players in camp. While they do still have 17 position players, the biggest real battle left is in the bullpen.
The team has three catchers still in camp – they have to make a decision between Steve Clevenger and Rob Brantly to back-up Chris Iannetta.
Both Jesus Montero and Efren Navarro are still listed as being in major league camp, but there are lots of rumors out there that the Mariners have put Montero on waivers.
They still have six outfielders in big league camp, with Daniel Robertson apparently being the odd man out despite his terrific spring.
As for the pitching, with the rotation now set it’s easy to see that the club has 11 relievers still fighting for the seven bullpen spots. But two of them are injured (Charlie Furbush and Evan Scribner), so really it’s nine players who are in the picture: Joaquin Benoit, Steve Cishek, Mayckol Guaipe, Mike Montgomery, Vidal Nuno, Blake Parker, Joel Peralta, Donn Roach, and Tony Zych.
The rosters are about set. Mariners open in a week, Rainiers in ten days.
- Robinson Cano hit three home runs on Sunday. Could he be ready for a big year?
- Ketel Marte hit an inside-the-park home run on Saturday – video in this link. I happened to be listening on the radio while driving around town when it happened, and Rick Rizzs nailed the call.
- Ryan Divish has more on the Jesus Montero situation in this post. Montero reminded Dave Cameron about how difficult it is to project which minor leaguers will become excellent hitters.
- John McGrath is happy for Dae-Ho Lee.
- In his Mariners Notebook from Sunday, Bob Dutton suggests a way in which a player – he presents Stefen Romero as an example – could be on the opening day roster of both the Mariners and the Rainiers.
- Bob Condotta caught up with Shawn O’Malley, who seems to have the right attitude about his current situation.
- Felix Hernandez pitched six shutout innings on Friday, and he appears ready for opening day.
- On the other hand, it appears that Charlie Furbush won’t be ready for opening day. Don’t be surprised if the Mariners grab some relief pitching on the end of spring training waiver wire.
- In his Monday notebook, Dutton gives the names of some Padres relievers whom the Mariners are reportedly looking at.
- Sunday’s game was delayed by bees. Seems like a good reason to me.
- Buster Olney writes that the Mariners have the toughest early season schedule in baseball.
- Outfielder Ramon Flores – who played brilliantly for Tacoma for two weeks last season, then broke his leg in an outfield accident – has made the Milwaukee Brewers opening day roster.
- The top MLB draft prospect in the state has never eaten a hot dog or hamburger.
- Elsewhere in the PCL, Ron Kantowski caught up with Las Vegas manager Wally Backman at Mets spring training, and learned about their new pitcher named Smoker.
We’re getting close!