By Shannon Drayer
OAKLAND, Calif. – Greetings from the O.co Coliseum, otherwise known as the “Jewel of the American League.” The elevators are working and the sewage is staying where it is supposed to stay, so I guess you could say we are off to a great start here.
Roenis Elias makes his big-league debut tonight, having bypassed Triple-A. I have heard some criticize the Mariners for the move, citing Brandon Maurer’s lack of success making the jump last year. I think it is ridiculous to lump all pitchers together like that. Each is different. Each reacts differently. You never know what will happen the first time under the big lights. It is different. The field is the same, the batter is the same distance away, but the quality of hitter you are facing is obviously better and the stakes are higher. It is an adjustment and how a young pitcher handles it plays into their chances for success.
Along those lines I think Elias will be fine. Manager Lloyd McClendon has pointed out that to live through what Elias has lived through – escaping Cuba and basically hiding out in Mexico for the chance to play baseball – big-league pressure should pale in comparison. Elias has appeared calm and confident the entire spring and has had his eyes wide open. I have seen him asking Felix Hernandez questions and running stairs and warning tracks with Yoervis Medina, who was taken under Oliver Perez’s wing last year.
For him I think the biggest hurdle will be the pitches. Is the curveball as big league as it appeared in spring? Can he keep his command and walks down with hitters that will be more selective? We will get our first look soon.
Abraham Almonte, 8
Brad Miller, 6
Robinson Cano, 4
Justin Smoak, 3
Corey Hart, DH
Kyle Seager, 5
Logan Morrison, 9
Dustin Ackley, 7
Mike Zunino, 2
Logan Morrison is making his first start in right tonight. Ever. Or at least in the big leagues. I talked to him briefly before the game and he said he wasn’t too worried about it. He actually did play left here at O.co in interleague play and said it reminded him of Sun Life Stadium in Miami, also a football stadium. During batting practice he received a little extra work as outfield coach Andy Van Slyke stood at second base and hit balls to him in right for about 15 minutes. Good to see.
• How good has James Paxton been? Well, according to Elias (the stat company, not Roenis), Paxton is only the second pitcher in MLB history to go 4-0 or 5-0 in his first five games, all starts, with an ERA under 1.25. In 1946 Boo Ferriss of the Red Sox won his first five starts while putting up a 0.60 ERA.