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. 

Spring Training Games Begin Tomorrow

The Seattle Mariners have their first spring training game on Thursday against the Oakland A’s. I am sure the players are ready to go after throwing in the bullpen or hitting in the cage. Nothing like real baseball. 

On Tuesday the announcement Marco Gonzales would start the game and throw two innings followed by newcomer Justus Sheffield.  Have no idea who Sheffield is he is one of the pitchers the Mariners received from the New York Yankees in the trade for James Paxton. He is ranked now as the Mariners number one prospect. We will see whether he starts the season in Tacoma or as the fifth starter in Seattle. Whatever happens, he will pitch in Seattle at some point during the season.

Not sure what relievers will follow Gonzales and Sheffield however they will likely be going with four of them. The bullpen has a number of candidates to make the opening day roster. They will probably begin with eight relievers beginning of the season and then go down to seven depending on how the team is doing and how much they are pitching. 

The opening game of spring training hasn’t been announced yet who the positions players will be starting however it will probably be the starters. The three positions that may have a question who starts is first base will it be Ryon Healy or Jay Bruce or for that matter Daniel Vogelbach. Also will they start Tim Beckham or JP Crawford at shortstop? 

The third position is centerfield where Mallex Smith is expected to be the starter on the season he has an injured shoulder so he won’t be playing. In fact, there is a question of whether he will be ready to go when they go to Japan in a month. Yes, the season begins exactly a month from today February 20.  He may not be available until they get to Seattle to face the Red Sox on March 28. 

It could be former Washington Husky Braden Bishop who is third on the depth chart. By the way, Mitch Haniger is second on the depth chart but he is likely will be in right field. The Mariners could start Kyle Lewis or one of the other prospects in center.  Whoever starts in center I am sure we will see both of them in the first game. 

One of the first storylines coming out in spring training is about Kyle Seager and his off-season training and diet. Instead of building muscles he worked on flexibility. He does look trimmer as well. I know some gave the excuse he had a poor season last year because he had a broken toe last June. It may have been part of the problem but he sucked before then. The broken toe may have not allowed him to get better in the second half of the season but he was having a bad season before then. Bygones be bygones this is a new season so we will forget Kyle’s season of last year especially if he plays well this year.  I hope he gets off to a good start instead of waiting until June to perform. Anyway, I am rooting for him to bounce back.

 I am hoping for a good season out of these players this year despite the fact many believe they will have a losing record. Going into a season you never really know how a team will do even though things look like they will have a poor record. All I hope for is more of an exciting team than the one we saw after the all-star break. Whatever the record turns out I am looking for a team like the one in the first half of the season. Without Edwin Diaz they could lose some of the one-run games they won last year but every year never really know how the bullpen will do. They are unpredictable to say the least. Anyway let’s go M’s. 

Spring Training Has Begun

The Seattle Mariners spring training began with the physical on Monday for the pitchers and catchers. The position players will have the same on Friday. 

Today the pitchers will be throwing in the bullpens. They will probably be split up in three or four groups. The Mariners will have several catchers on hand who will play in the minor leagues as well. 

The two big names for fans and media alike to see in the bullpens will be newcomer Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi and Felix Hernandez. Kikuchi has already thrown a couple sessions on Saturday and Sunday. Also, he has already met with the media.

I am sure Kikuchi will get a lot of looks by the Japanese media as well as other media.  I am sure fans will want to see who this guy is as well.

Another pitcher I am sure fans will want to see pitch is the recent free agent Hunter Strickland because he is expected to be the closer this season. Until spring training games happen to see him throwing the ball and what he looks like is all everyone will see. 

I am sure fans will want to see how Felix Hernandez is looking this spring. At this point where he fits in the starting rotation is anyone’s guess including general manager Jerry Dipoto and manager Scott Servais. 

One thing for sure we are hoping Felix will look more like the 2016 version of himself instead of 2018. I don’t add 2017 in there because he was injured a good share of the time and only pitched in 16 games.

We all know Felix fastball is no longer what we used to see however it doesn’t mean he can’t be successful. He has had a good curveball along with slider and changeup. The fastball can be good if his changeup will work as well. I know everyone is wishing Felix well this year. 

It would be sad if the Mariners had to release him in spring training or sometime during the season because he wasn’t performing well. On the other hand, he pitches something like they hope for the Mariners can send him in a trade for some prospects. I am sure they would have to pay a part of his salary as well. 

Look forward to more news happening during spring training and the first spring game happens next week on February 21. Go M’s. 

Spring Training Begins On Monday February 11

Spring training begins for the Mariners this coming Monday when the pitchers and catchers report. They take their physicals on Monday and begin throwing on Tuesday. The positions players will report the following Friday.

For all who are thinking of going to spring training to see these new players wouldn’t be a bad idea with the snow, we have right now and it is expected for the rest of next week.

Of course, everyone will be familiar with Felix Hernandez who is in the last year of his contract and there is the third baseman Kyle Seager as well. Depending on their success this coming season this could be the last we see both of them. Felix Hernandez could be gone by the all-star break if he isn’t performing well and Seager could be if he is. Hernandez could be released by then while Seager would be traded. This certainly leaves us with less familiar faces but I am sure we know more of the newer faces by then.

Felix Hernandez is released to add another pitcher on the roster who is doing well in the minor leagues or they have picked up during the season. It would primarily deal with his performance.

Kyle Seager being traded would not be his performance only but that of the team. If the Mariners are doing better than expected they could hold onto him otherwise send him to another team that is vying for a playoff spot at the trading deadline. At that point who would be playing third base?

The Mariners could trade DH Edwin Encarnacion this coming week well as during spring training or the season. Veteran outfielder-first baseman Jay Bruce could go through the same thing though likely later on but with Jerry Dipoto would not surprise us.

Bruce being traded might depend on how the other outfielders are doing during training camp as well as first baseman/dh Dan Vogelbach. Speaking of Vogelbach he is out of options so the Mariners have to keep, trade, or release him. I am sure the Mariners will give him every chance to succeed.

There will be other interesting things happening during spring training as well. I will keep you up to date. The first spring game will happen on February 21 against the Oakland A’s. Sort of interesting I say because the Mariners have started the spring against the San Diego Padres for years.

The Mariners regular season starts one month later on March 20 in Tokyo, Japan against the Oakland A’s in a two-game series. They play a couple of exhibition games beforehand on March 16 and 18. We will likely see Ichiro on the roster as well. The Mariners are allowed to expand the roster to 28 players while in Japan. I am sure we won’t see Ichiro on the roster when they return to Seattle to play the Boston Red Sox on March 28.

I am sure left-handed pitcher Yusei Kikuchi the Mariners signed out of Japan on January 2 will appear in at least one game over in Japan. It will be interesting to see how he does through spring training as well as Felix Hernandez. Go M’s.

Oh yes for those in Western Washington stay warm OK.

February 11 Spring Training Begins!

Mariner’s spring training begins in one week when the pitchers report for their physicals on Monday February 11. During the off-season, general manager Jerry Dipoto made multiple trades along with signings. So manager Scott Servais will have to begin by introductions of these new players.

The majority of the players returning from last year on the 40 man roster are pitchers. Far as the position players go we have backup catcher David Freitas, first baseman Ryon Healy, and Daniel Vogelbach. At second base Dee Gordon and Kyle Seager at third both return. Kristopher Negron at utility player. Not familiar with him he came up in September from Tacoma. He was acquired from Arizona Diamondbacks in August. 

When it comes to the outfield we have the face of the franchise now Mitch Haniger. Braden Bishop played half the season at double-A Arkansas before getting hurt. 

The most notable returning pitchers are Felix Hernandez, Marco Gonzales, Mike Leake, and Wade LeBlanc. All vying for the starting rotation. In the bullpen are Dan Altavilla (spent much of last season on the disabled list), Chasen Bradford, Roenis Elias, and Sam Tuivailala (acquired from the St.Louis Cardinals before the trading line) will start the season on the disabled list. Shawn Armstrong, Matt Festa, and Nick Rumbelow came up in September. Those three will get a chance to make the opening day roster. 

This week Jerry Dipoto could acquire or sign additional players before training camp starts. There are still free agents still out in the market. Likely the Mariners won’t sign any big-time names. Look forward to getting to know the new players coming in.