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Mariners notebook: Rain providing obstacles for Servais, pitching staff

Mariners manager Scott Servais' job has become more difficult due to weather. (AP)

PEORIA, Ariz. – Once again, weather has foiled the Mariners’ plans.

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Minutes before a torrential downpour came down at the Mariners’ spring training complex on Tuesday, it was announced that their Cactus League game against the White Sox down the road in Glendale had been canceled. In a spring shortened already by the upcoming trip to Japan, every game is precious. The Mariners have also had two games rained out as well as lost a couple of workout days earlier in the spring.

To make up for the canceled game, the Mariners will play an intrasquad game at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

“It’s not ideal, but we will adjust,” said manager Scott Servais, who was not pleased that for a second straight day his starting pitcher could not get his work in.

Yusei Kikuchi, who was scheduled to start against the White Sox, and Wade LeBlanc, who had been scheduled to start an intrasquad game beforehand, will get the starts in Wednesday’s intrasquad game. LeBlanc originally had been slated to start Monday night against the Royals but was scratched because of the threat of rain. The hope was that the relievers who had been scheduled to throw against Kansas City could get their work in before the rain came in the early innings, and LeBlanc could get his innings Tuesday. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate.

The pitching has not been the only challenge this week in Peoria. While the Mariners’ roster does not have to be set until right before Game 1 in Tokyo against the A’s on March 20, obviously decisions have to be made sooner because of the travel.

“We’re getting really close,” Servais said when asked about getting the roster from 44 to 30 for the trip. “The rain, the schedules this spring – the last five days have been crazy.

“Conversations with guys, trying to get it all lined up. We just have to make decisions earlier. We have a smaller sample size but you are not really going too much off of what you see in spring training. Spring training is more for the younger guys and they certainly left a very, very strong impression on us.”


• The Mariners did make a few roster moves Tuesday afternoon. Orlando Calixte, Tim Lopes and Tito Polo were re-assigned to minor league camp, and Dustin Ackley was released.

Reliever Gerson Bautista has been diagnosed with a grade 1 strain in his pectoral muscle. “He’s going to be down for a little while,” Servais said. “How long, I don’t know. Grade 1 is the least severe; he needs to rest a bit. He feels fine but the pictures and MRIs show a little bit of a strain in there.”

• Another problem the rain has caused: Servais would like to pitch a number of his relievers in back-to-back games before the start of the season. Shawn Armstrong, who took the loss Monday night, was scheduled to pitch Tuesday and now will have to wait until Wednesday. So far Cory Gearrin is the only reliever who has yet to throw on consecutive days.

• Relievers Hunter Strickland (back) and Anthony Swarzak (shoulder) threw bullpens Monday, and Servais was pleased with what he saw. “There was no hesitation with either of them. They were letting it go,” he said. “We need them. We need both of those guys healthy.”

• CF Mallex Smith (arm) has progressed to taking batting practice on the field, a big step toward returning to games. Servais confirmed Smith will not travel to Japan with the team. “It’s too important to get him progressing along and some sort of spring training for him,” Servais said. The Mariners have three Cactus League games scheduled in Arizona that Smith could play in while the team is in Japan. Playing in minor league games while the team is away would also be an option.

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