By Shannon Drayer
PEORIA, Ariz. – After his last bullpen session, Taijuan Walker said he hoped that he would be allowed to throw to hitters his next time out. He thought there was a possibility that the Mariners would ask him to throw another bullpen but was hoping that he would get to throw a live BP session or simulated game instead. He gets his wish, sort of. He will throw to hitters, but in a minor league game.
Lloyd McClendon announced that Walker will throw in a minor league game at the Mariners complex Saturday. He most likely will be allowed to throw only two innings, but this is a significant step in his return. Walker won’t be the only Mariners pitcher making his minor league spring debut – Stephen Pryor will get to throw in a game as well on Saturday. While not set in stone, it appears that Walker will throw in the Triple-A game and Pryor in the Double-A game. I will be sure to catch at least Walker if not both before heading to the major league game at either Oakland or Colorado. I have a choice to make there as Scott Baker will throw against the A’s in Phoenix and Roenis Elias will throw against the Rockies in Scottsdale. For those of you who think that the Mariners aren’t seriously considering Elias, who hasn’t pitched above Double-A, I would think again. McClendon will be watching his game and not the game in Phoenix.
A little different look to the lineup. Miller back in at 2, Morrison at 4 and playing first base. McClendon said there were times we could possibly see Seager at 4 as well. Corey Hart gets the day off after nine at-bats followed by a game. McClendon said that Hart would have at least one more minor league game day where leads off each inning this spring. Last but not least, we have our first DJ Peterson sighting in the extra players since he was hospitalized with stomach issues March 8.
The Mariners have added a quality control coach. It is a position that McClendon and Jack Zduriencik first discussed last fall, and today they announced that Chris Prieto, who managed Pulaski last year, will get the job. Prieto will serve as a liaison between the Mariners advance scouting staff and statistics department and McClendon and the big league coaches.
“Chris will give us another tool in our bag as we take the information we receive from our video advance scouting group and apply it to our day-to-day needs on the field,” McClendon said.
His job will basically be to get the right information to the right coaches and weed out what is not needed. He will also set the defenses series to series. He will not be on the bench during games but he will travel with the team and throw batting practice as well.
With the addition of the quality control coach, the Mariners now have two additional coaches on staff they didn’t have last year, with infield coach being the second.
• Mariners atop spring leaderboards: Dustin Ackley leads baseball in hitting at .457 and has hit in 15 of 16 games. Brad Miller is leading baseball in SLG 1.000 and OPS 1.512.
• I can’t believe I am typing this as news, but Hisashi Iwakuma threw a tennis ball today. Carry on.