Scott Baker, who is trying to make the Mariners as a non-roster invite, allowed one run on three hits over three innings and 32 pitches. He’s coming back from Tommy John surgery in ’12, and pitched three games for the Cubs in 2013. Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said Baker didn’t have any problems bouncing back from his first outing, which is often a key step for pitchers on the mend from Tommy John surgery.” He threw the ball well,” said McClendon. “I was very pleased. I didn’t see any setbacks of any kind.” Source: Scott Merkin at MLB.com
How to address the projected offensive deficit vs. left-handed pitching? Kendrys Morales, Scott Van Slyke and Mike Zunino are explored by Jim P. (Spectator) at Mariner Brainstorm in a series of interesting appraisals entitled Three More Possible Solutions to the “Left-Handed Tilt”
The Mariners don’t need another designated hitter with minimal versatility. They need athletes, guys who can run from first to third in a blur and chase down liners in the outfield. [After acquiring Morse and Ibanez)] the 2013 Mariners scored only five more runs than the 2012 Mariners. Meanwhile, the 2013 Mariners allowed 754 runs — 103 more than they gave up in 2012. The back end of the starting rotation struggled, as did the back end of the bullpen, but the real problem was a dearth of athletic fielders.
Zduriencik is allowing manager Lloyd McClendon to use spring training as a test lab for some intriguing experiments.
Abraham Almonte in center field, for instance. Almonte might never develop into anything more than a fourth outfielder, but he’s got the speed to both cover the gaps on defense and create spontaneous combustion on offense. When Almonte and Brad Miller batted at the top of the order for the Rainiers last season, it was sheer excitement. As for the cleanup hitter who’ll bat behind Cano, Zduriencik already signed him: Corey Hart. He missed 2013 while recuperating from knee surgery — actually, knee surgeries, microfracture procedures on both of them — but during the three seasons prior to his medical leave, he averaged 29 home runs.
Hart turns 32 on March 24. If his knees aren’t an issue (and the Mariners, with a $6 million investment at stake, obviously trust they won’t be) there’s a lot to like about a 6-foot-6 cleanup man athletic enough to have hit 33 triples over a nine-year career. (Ken Griffey Jr., the most majestic baseball player ever born, hit 38 triples during his 22-year career.)
Hart won’t make anybody forget the masterful work of such former Mariners right fielders as Jay Buhner and Ichiro Suzuki, but he can play the position, he can bat fourth and he hits from the right side. Source: Bob Dutton at Tacoma News Tribune (Edited for brevity.)
[James] Jones isn’t ranked among the Mariners top prospects on most lists, most likely because he’s older than the majority of the “upside” kids who fall in those categories. But the 6-foot-4, 200-pounder has caught manager Lloyd McClendon’s eye this spring, and has come a long way from his days at Long Island University, where he was a pitcher and outfielder before being drafted by Seattle in the fourth round in 2009. “He’s a pretty interesting young man. He’s very talented and I really like what I’ve seen,” McClendon said. “I don’t think he’s going to knock on the door, I think he’s going to knock the door down when he’s ready to get there.”
Jones hit .275 with 14 doubles, 10 triples, six homers and 28 stolen bases in 101 games for Double-A Jackson last season, despite a month on the disabled list with a strained triceps. He’ll likely start this season in Tacoma, where he went 5-for-15 with two doubles in his four-game callup in the final days of 2013, but the Mariners have him on their 40-man roster, and he’s certainly on McClendon’s radar now. “I think he needs the reps and continue to get better,” said the new skipper. “I think he’s going to come on very, very quick.” Source: Greg Johns at MLB
Don’t undersell [David] Phelps‘ makeup. The Yankees really do have a knack for identifying rawhide-tough pitchers … or is it the home crowd and the media clowns that have a way of weeding the cowards out? I’ll guarantee you that Zduriencik is seeing a Jason Vargas-like makeup here, and that’s what has him wavering. – Source: jemanji at Seattle Sports Insider
(Read the original reasoning at David Phelps SP RP)
[Fernando] Rodney, 37, said he likes to begin a little later than most pitchers, particularly after overworking himself prior to last season with the Rays and then getting off to a rough beginning. “Last year, I threw a lot,” he said. “I threw in the Dominican. I threw in the Caribbean Series, I threw in the [World Baseball Classic] and I threw in Spring Training. I felt a little tired early in the season. But I recovered and came back, and this year is going to be different. I’m more fresh now.”
Rodney, a 2012 All-Star with the Rays when he posted a 0.60 ERA with 48 saves, started out with a 5.40 ERA in his first 29 outings last season before finishing with 1.88 ERA over his final 39 appearances. He finished with 37 saves and 3.38 ERA before signing a two-year, $14 million deal with Seattle. Source: Greg Johns at MLB
So they said
“Hitting is timing. Pitching is upsetting timing.” Ted Williams
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
Sources: Free-agent RHP Ervin Santana considering a change of agents. Currently represented by Bean Stringfellow of Proformance. Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports (Does he think a new agent can make him worth more?)
Source: Ervin Santana has fired Bean Stringfellow as his agent. Santana has no plans to hire a new agent. Could negotiate his own contract. From: Dionisio Soldevila (Sounds like somebody is feeling left out.)
Baseball Best Practice
[James] Jones is one of several youngsters benefitting greatly from the teachings of new outfield coach Andy Van Slyke, who has challenged his group from Day 1 of camp with a series of aggressive drills that require tracking ball after ball up against the wall or over the head or with a coach flipping flash cards in front of them that require looking down and then back up to find the ball again.
“He’s a really good outfield coach,” Jones said. “I like what he says about practicing hard so in the game, it slows up for you. He’s definitely doing that. I feel more comfortable in center field with all the drills he’s been doing, running back on the ball, taking my eye off of it. I’m just taking everything in with him. I’m listening.” Source: Greg Johns at MLB
[Fernando] Rodney said he began tilting his hat several years ago, about the time he started having more success. And he’s not about to change now. “That is something to confuse the hitter,” he said. “They want to look at your eyes. They think I’m not looking at them. If they can’t see your face, they don’t know what you’re going to throw. And the runner at first thinks I’m looking at them and sometimes they stop.”
Anything for an edge, in other words. “That’s baseball,” he said. “Every time you try to do something to improve. Every day you come to this game, you don’t know what is going to happen. So that is what I do now and everything is working right. If they try to discover me, then maybe I’ll try to do something different.”
By The Numbers
The pitcher with the most wins in the NL since 2006 is Bronson Arroyo with 105. From: The Bill Chuck Files
Joe Torre is the only player in Major League history to log 300+ games at another position after catching his 900th game. Source Jason Stark at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]