We all know that spring training games are meaningless in many ways however it is great that the Mariners at least started off in a good way winning 13-3 over the San Diego Padres. They play the Padres once again on Sunday.
The importance of spring training for those who have been around for a while is to get prepared for the regular season. For all the rest of the guys is to see if they can make the ball club. We know that some of the players will be sent down to the minor leagues while others who don’t make the ball club are hoping to show their skills for other ball clubs. Unfortunately there will be for others where spring training will be an end to a career. Those players are usually veterans who are one last effort to extend their careers. The players that are young and invited to major league camp are wanting to make at least an impression that when they go down to triple A or double A that the manager and coaching staff will remember them when and if they are going to be called up. This usually happens when an injury happens however they can be called up if a player is not playing up to expectations.
Nelson Cruz started the spring training season by hitting the first home run with two runners on base to put the Mariners up 3-0. The Padres did tie the score 3-3 in the fourth inning off of Ryan Weber however that was the end of the story for them. Weber is expected to start the season at Tacoma. The Mariner offense scored ten unanswered runs and the pitchers shut out the Padres the rest of the way.
Ariel Miranda started the game giving up no runs in two innings and one hit; a good way to respond after Cruz’s home run. Since the starting rotation is primarily set for the season Miranda will be in the bullpen or sent down to Tacoma. This could depend on how other lefties do during training camp.
The three pitchers who followed Weber in the game Pazos, Cody Martin and Simmons not only did not give up any runs they did not give up a single hit or walk. Pazos could be a lefty in the bullpen if Miranda is sent to Tacoma. Martin on the other hand will likely start in Tacoma adding depth in case the Mariners need a starter brought up. Simmons could be the last man in the bullpen especially if Steve Cishek isn’t ready to go when the season begins. Simmons is competing primarily with Dan Altavilla as the hard throwing right hander late in game. Tony Zych could be another possibility if he is ready to go as well.
Jarrod Dyson who looks like the leadoff batter at least against right handers showed his speed getting on base in the fifth inning and stealing second before coming home on a Shawn O’Malley hit. O’Malley went in for Segura and had two hits in the game. He is expected to be the utility player starting the season for the Mariners though he does have competition.
Daniel Vogelbach got a couple singles in his Mariner spring debut. He is expected to be the first baseman against right handed pitchers at the very least. Former first round pick D.J. Peterson got in a couple hits including a double playing first base taking over for Vogelbach. Peterson is expected to play in Tacoma when the season starts however he hopes to impress the Mariners this spring training. Danny Valencia who the Mariners got from the Oakland A’s is expected to play some first base well as third base and outfield. Playing first base primarily against left handed pitchers; how much will depend on Vogelbach.
Guillermo Heredia who is competing for the fourth outfielder spot on the roster had a really good spring training debut getting three hits in three at bats including two doubles and driving in three runs. Making the roster would be good dividends for the Mariners because he would be a right handed bat off the bench. He came in the game for Leonys Martin to play center field. Heredia is good defensively at all three outfield spots so that makes him valuable to along with his speed.
Another player who did well was Tyler Smith who came in and played third base for Seager. He had a couple hits in three at bats and scored two runs while driving in a run too Smith though is expected to start the season in Tacoma. He most likely will play shortstop at Tacoma depending on who else is sent down. He is the only pure shortstop the Mariners have besides Segura.
Chris Heston who the Mariners signed as a free agent that last pitched for the San Francisco Giants will start on Sunday’s game. The Mariners signed Heston to add depth to the Mariners starting rotation. Depending on how he does likely will start the season in Tacoma. At this point he is considered the seventh starter in a five man rotation. He could be traded to another team during the spring that needs a fifth starter. Though it is unlikely he could be a right handed long reliever coming out of the bullpen. The Mariners don’t have much room in the bullpen either.
The remaining pitchers expected to pitch on Sunday most won’t pitch for the Mariners starting the season and end in Tacoma. Nick Hagadone who is one of the pitchers recently signed to a minor league contract out of Sumner, Washington could be an extra lefty in the bullpen depending on how he works out. He was out all of last season with an injury however he is a veteran pitcher who is comfortable in being a lefty setup specialist. Most likely he will start the season in Tacoma. He could be like Heston where he is traded during training camp, he is doing well and another team needs a lefty specialist.
Sunday’s game the Mariners will see more players making their spring training debut. It will be interesting to see if the offense will continue to do the job once again and where the pitching goes. A reminder the Mariners first television game will take place next Sunday March 5. Go M’s.