Thank You Ichiro

Ichiro played in the two exhibition games and the two regular season games in his native Japan. We were unable to see him get a hit either Wednesday or Thursday however he did make a few catches in right field. Whatever we feel it isn’t anything like the people of Japan who idolized him for so many years. He played nine years in Japan before coming to Seattle in 2001. He played in the major leagues for 19 years. I know we will be talking about him for years to come. 

What is next up for Ichiro we don’t know right now but I hope he does some work for the Seattle Mariners. I would like to see him do some scouting for the Mariners if he is living full-time in Japan. I am sure in Japan he will be doing some work with their baseball as well. 

The Seattle Mariners were able to win both games against the A’s. They won the opener 9-7 then on Thursday in extra innings they scored a single run in the 12th inning to win 5-4. 

Japanese lefty Yusei Kikuchi made his major league debut going 4 and 2/3 innings throwing 93 pitches. He looked fantastic for most of the time. When Ichiro came out of the 8th inning after hitting for the 3rd time in the game Kikuchi was quite emotional about it. You could see having tears in his eyes while sitting on the bench. We hope to see success for Kikuchi in a Mariner uniform like Ichiro. It will be hard for him to match it but getting close would be nice.

Thanks Ichiro both Japan and the USA appreciate it very much. 


Mariners Win Season Opener

The game began with Marco Gonzales struggling early than he settled down from the fourth through the six-inning throwing 68 pitches in total. He gave up a solo home run to Stephen Piscotty right fielder and number three in Oakland’s lineup. In the second inning, he gave up another run on an error by Ryon Healy. who was playing on the other side of the diamond from third base.   

The Mariners who went scoreless the first two innings scored five runs including a grand slam home run by left fielder Domingo Santana. The ball was hit to right field. It seems the ball carries well to that side in the Tokyo Dome. A great way for Santana to make his Mariner debut though only hit of the game he had though spectacular. So the Mariners were leading 5-3.

Oakland responded in the bottom of the third when Khris Davis hit a two-run homer making the score 5-4 Seattle. He seems to always have a home run against the Mariners. The Mariners picked up another run in the 4th inning. Ichiro who started in right field had two plate appearances popping up in the 2nd and walking in the 4th. He was removed from the game in the bottom of the 4th. He went out to right field then walked to the dugout with an ovation from the crowd well as hugs by the Mariner players. Also, the Oakland A players applauded as well. He will play Thursday against the A’s as well but no one knows if he will start or not.

Tim Beckham had a great debut with the Mariners. He had a two-run homer in the 5th inning which was one of his three hits in the game. He scored three times as well. The Mariners scored another run to make it 9-4.

In the seventh inning after Gonzales left the game Nick Rumbelow came in however he had a hard time. He went one-third of an inning giving up a three-run home to third baseman Matt Chapman making the score 9-7. Cory Gearrin and Zac Rosscup had a hold. Neither gave up a hit though Rosscup did walk a batter. Hunter Strickland came in the bottom of the 9th to record the save.

Thursday Japanese lefty Yusei Kikuchi makes his major league debut in his home country against the A’s. I am sure he will be nervous however the main thing for him is to stay away from giving up the long ball to the A hitters. It will be nice if the Mariners can come back to Seattle with a 2-0 record.

Mariners Getting Ready for Opening Series

The Seattle Mariners have finished playing two exhibition games in Tokyo against the Yomiuri Giants. They won both games. On Saturday night Seattle time they beat the Giants 6-4.

Mike Leake started the game for the Mariners going five innings giving up three runs on three hits. Cory Gearrin, Zach Rosscup, and Hunter Strickland each went an inning without giving up a run. Roenis Elias pitched the ninth giving up a run on two hits.

The Mariners were behind 3-1 into the seventh inning when Mitch Haniger and Jay Bruce each hit a home run with a runner on base going ahead 5-3. Dee Gordon showed power in the eighth inning by hitting a solo home run. So the Mariners scored five of their six runs by the long ball.

On Monday the Mariners beat the Giants 6-5. Felix Hernandez started and struggled once again giving up five runs on four hits with three walks in four innings. Again the bullpen did their job to keep the Mariners in the game before Mitch Haniger hit his second home run in as many games with one runner base. Catcher David Freitas hit a home run in the eighth inning.

Ichiro started both games in right field and is expected to do so on Wednesday against the Oakland A’s in the season opener in Japan. He made a good throw in the game however didn’t have a hit in either game. Braden Bishop replaced Ichiro in both games as well. He made three plate appearances each in both games. According to manager Scott Servais will start in right field in the opener as well. No one is expecting him to be on the roster when the Mariners return home to Seattle and the roster goes down from 28 to 25. No one knows whether he will announce his retirement or not at the time. He did make a good throw where a runner did not go to third base. He still has a good arm though.

Brandon Brennan, Nick Rumbelow, Dan Altavilla, Matt Festa, and Chasen Bradford all went an inning without giving up a run. Rumbelow was the only one to give up a hit while Altavilla was the only one to walk a batter. Most likely one of those five relievers will not be on the 25-man roster when returning to Seattle.  

Outside of Hunter Strickland beginning as the closer and Zac Rosscup as the lefty specialist everyone else’s roles are not defined at this time in the bullpen. I am sure it will take a few weeks before that will happen.

There is talk right now that Kyle Seager could be out until June. Ryon Healy will start out the season starting at third base, however, we will probably see utility player Dylan Moore playing their some too. This will mean Edwin Encarnacion, Jay Bruce, Daniel Vogelbach will share first base and designated hitter. If Mallex Smith is able to start in center field when the Mariners return home than Jay Bruce will be the fourth outfielder as well; we should know his status in a few days.

Daniel Vogelbach at first base and dh we will see whether he is able to hit on a regular basis. We do know he will get his home runs but whether he will hit around .200 or higher we will see. He likely will start against right handers only. I am sure Servais will see how he handles lefties as well on occasion.

With Felix Hernandez still struggling on the mound it will be interesting to see how long the Mariners will go with him in the starting rotation. If he does continue on the same path will they send him to the bullpen, put him on the injured list, or release him. Another question we will see possibly soon. I think to it may depend on how the rest of the starting rotation does as well?

Mariners On the Way to Japan

Spring training is now over for the Seattle Mariners as they head to Japan. They have 30 players going to Japan although only 28 will be active for the two games against the Oakland A’s. The team will have to trim down to 25 players when they face the Boston Red Sox in the home opener on March 28.

The Mariners are taking three catchers, six infielders, five outfielders, five starting pitchers, and eleven relievers. The 28 active players will probably take off two of the relievers or possibly a reliever and the extra catcher.

Mallex Smith isn’t taking the trip to Japan, however, the Mariners are hoping he will be available when they get back to Seattle.  So the 25-man roster should be made up of two catchers, six infielders, four outfielders, five starters, and eight relievers. Depending on how things go in Japan the Mariners could go with five outfielders and seven relievers instead. 

Ichiro Suzuki and Braden Bishop are the two extra outfielders. Ichiro likely will be the dh in Japan. Mallex Smith isn’t ready when the Mariners return to the active roster when the team gets to Seattle the Mariners will have to decide on keeping either Ichiro or Brandon Bishop. I really do hope it is Bishop though I am sure some diehard fans want to keep Ichiro around.

Dylan Moore has made the team as the utility player. He hasn’t ever played in the major leagues. The Mariners signed him as a free agent during the off-season. He played for the Colorado Rockies triple-A team last season. With Kyle Seager out he will play some third base in place of Ryon Healy who will get the bulk of playing time. Moore can play outfield as well so may play some in left field on occasion. Manager Scott Servais has a lot of confidence in him.

The Mariners took three lefty relievers in Roenis Alias, Zac Rosscup, and Tommy Milone. I expect when trimmed to 25-man roster Milone will be sent down to Tacoma since he signed a minor league contract and isn’t on the 40-man roster.

So how the right-handed relievers turn out will be interesting as they will keep either five or six. Right now they have eight going to Japan.

We will see what happens next. 

Under A Week Remaining in Arizona

I am not sure exactly the day the Mariners leave for Japan, however, the last spring training game in Arizona for the Mariners will be March 13. They will likely leave on Thursday March 14 since they have exhibition game on Saturday March 16 in Tokyo.

Right now the Mariners have 57 players in camp. They will likely take 30 players with them to Tokyo though there will be 28 roster spots available when they play against the Oakland A’s on March 20 and 21. I would have to think the Mariners will trim down this weekend.

The roster will likely look this way going to Japan. Position players we see the Mariners going with Omar Narvaez and David Freitas. Non-roster invitee Jose Lobaton will go along just in case of an injury.

At first base will likely be Edwin Encarnacion and Daniel Vogelbach. This means Ryon Healy will probably start in Tacoma unless Encarnacion is traded. Jay Bruce listed as an outfielder will play some first base as well. One of the guys will be at dh when the season begins in Seattle against Boston. Vogelbach is out of options and I am sure having a good spring training the Mariners want to see how he does. Dylan Moore or Kristopher Negron who is the utility player will likely come in to play first base late in games. Moore advantage of Negron is he can play shortstop.

Second base will be Dee Gordon with Kyle Seager at third base. Shortstop the season will start with Tim Beckham however he could end up being a super utility player if J.P. Crawford the long term shortstop starts out well in Tacoma. 

The outfield Mallex Smith was expected to be the Mariners starting centerfield however he has been slowed by strained right elbow so he hasn’t played in any games as of yet. He will go with the team to Japan however he probably won’t play in the two games. If he isn’t able to begin the season when the Mariners get back to Tacoma he will likely go on the disabled list.  This becomes the case Mitch Haniger will start the season in center field with Domingo Santana in left and Jay Bruce in right. Rookie Braden Bishop out of University Washington will become the fourth outfielder. He can play all three outfield positions but will probably enter the game late as a defensive replacement. He could play the role that Guillermo Heredia had last year when the season began. 

Ichiro Suzuki will go with the Mariners to Japan. He likely will be the dh while in Japan but will probably designate him for assignment when the Mariners return to Seattle unless Mallex Smith isn’t ready to go. 

Starting pitching rotation  looks like what we thought when spring training began with Marco Gonzales, Yusei Kikuchi, Mike Leake, Felix Hernandez and Wade LeBlanc.  Top prospect Justus Sheffield the Mariners received in the trade for James Paxton may enter the rotation in May or sooner depending how the other five guys are going. If he gets off to a great start Sheffield could be in the starting rotation and the Mariners could put Wade LeBlanc in the long relief role in the bullpen.  Things could work to if one of the starters gets hurt as well.

The bullpen looks like it is coming down to right-handers Hunter Strickland (begin as the closer), Shawn Armstrong, Dan Altavilla (we hope can have the kind of season the Mariners have hoped for the last couple years), Cory Gearrin, Gerson Bautista, and Brandon Brennan (a rule 5 pickup). The Mariners will have one or two available like Chasen Bradford starting in Tacoma. Lefties will be Zac Rosscup and Roenis Elias. 

When the season comes to Seattle hard to know whether the Mariners will go with seven or eight relievers. 

Two Weeks Until Mariners Head to Japan

The Seattle Mariners major league camp is the half-way mark of spring training. The pitchers and catchers reported on February 11 while the position did on February 15.  The Mariners will have their first game an exhibition against Yomiuri Giants on  March 16 evening time in Seattle and then early morning on March 18. The two regular games against the Oakland A’s will take place on March 20 and 21 at 2:35 am Seattle time. The Mariners will fly to Seattle to take on the Boston Red Sox on March 28. 

Scott Servais hasn’t named his opening starting as of yet however, it likely will be left-hander Marco Gonzales. He will probably be followed by right-hander Mike Leake then Japanese lefty Yusei Kikuchi. Felix Hernandez and Wade LeBlanc. Marco Gonzales does start the opener in Japan he likely will again in the opening in Seattle as well. Wade LeBlanc will probably start in the bullpen then make his opening start against the Los Angels Angels on Monday, April 1 at T-Mobile Park. 

Kikuchi and Felix Hernandez might start the two exhibition games in Tokyo. Gonzales will make his third start if he does pitch both openers on April 2. The Mariners have  April 3 and 5th as days off. They have their first road trip to Chicago to face the White Sox.  They face Chicago on April 4 on their home opener followed on Saturday, April 6 and Sunday the 7th. The Mariners will face the Kansas City Royals in four games before returning home on April 12 against the Houston Astros. It will be interesting to see how the starting rotation works out.

Shed Long who the Mariners picked up from the New York Yankees via Cincinnati will be starting today against the Cleveland Indians in a spring training game in Good Year Arizona. He has had an outstanding spring so far. He likely will start the season triple-A Tacoma though. Whoever begins the season as the Mariners utility player they will have to do a good job to be sure he doesn’t replace them. The main utility candidates outside of Long are Dylan Moore who is starting at third base today and Kristopher Negron. Both have an edge on Long because of experience and both can play shortstop. A utility player who can play shortstop defensively is what Dipoto and Service are looking for. 

Ichiro will be playing in his familiar spot of right field today. Outside of playing in Japan, the odds are against Ichiro being on the opening roster when the Mariners return to Seattle to face the Boston Red Sox. His best shot would be if Mallex Smith isn’t ready to go however he is expected to throw this week along with taking batting practice. Veteran Jay Bruce is expected to be the extra outfielder plus playing some first base and designated hitter.

We will see in the next couple of weeks what moves the Mariners make. This will be true for the bullpen, backup catcher and Edwin Encarnacion whether he will stick to be the primary dh or traded to another team.   

First Spring Game Happens

Friday afternoon the Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland A’s in the first spring training game  8-1. It was supposed to be the second game however the opening was canceled after an inning and a half because of rain. 

Mitch Haniger hit a homer with Dee Gordon on base because of all things a walk to put the Mariners up 2-0. Ichiro drove in the next two runs on a single to right field. I wouldn’t make a big deal of it because his swing looked like one for a home run but the ball actually dropped over the head of the second baseman. Actually, Ichiro had another single before leaving the game. 

Most of the players who started in the game left after the third inning and allowed minor league players to show their stuff for the remaining of the game. Mike Leach pitched well in his first outing of the spring and the bullpen did a fine job as well.

The Mariners now take on the San Diego Padres in a Saturday afternoon game. Felix Hernandez will be taking the mound against the Padres. It will be interesting to see how he looks in his first outing of the spring. We hope for better things instead of digressing further. I am sure Felix will only pitch an inning or two depending on how many pitches he throws.