Mariners notebook: Lee and Cruz to make spring debuts
By Shannon Drayer
Two highly anticipated debuts on the schedule Saturday as Nelson Cruz is set to make his spring training debut DH’ing for the Mariners in their game against the Angels, and Dae-Ho Lee should make his Cactus League debut as a replacement later in the game.
Cruz has been held out of the early action with knee soreness. While he has said that it hasn’t bothered him for some time now the Mariners will be very cautious with him. As for Lee, he missed a day this week tending to his work visa. He is back in camp, his visa situation said to be in order, and should be a replacement either at first base or DH at some point today.
Scott Servais is interested to get his first look at Lee in game action.
“We have seen him in the workouts and a few at bats he’s had just to get the timing going. I’m sure he’s anxious as well,” he said.
Lee has taken extra work at first base nearly every day this spring and from all observations, that extra work has been needed. Defense will play into who wins the platoon position but that of course will not be determined by what we have on the back fields.
“He looks okay in the drills,” said Servais. “You have to see the ball off the bat. That tells a lot. How he reacts, making all the plays, being able to start the 3-6-3 double play, the bunts. All that stuff.”
One of the challenges in evaluating Lee –and the others competing for the position– will be that you don’t see a ton of left-handed pitching in spring training. There won’t be a lot of opportunities to show that he can do the job he was acquired to do or compete for. At bats against southpaws will be very important.
We have the regular infield with a mix of outfielders. Gutierrez gets his first game in the field. Marte makes his second start at one or two which is worth noting as most of the talk this off season had him batting low in the order. Miley is making his first start and scheduled to go 2 innings, with Nuno, Peralta, Aro, Rollins and Zych to follow.
–The Angels who are not bringing most of their regulars to Peoria today have also scratched scheduled starter Andrew Heaney due to illness.
-We saw the new 2nd base rule called yesterday when Jonathan Villar slid wide into second and the automatic double play was called. There is still a lot of learning and teaching going on with the new rules and Servais was interested to hear exactly what the umpire said when he called the outs. Luis Sardinas was at short and told his skipper the call was made immediately.
“Your out. You went after him, you went out of the line,” is what Servais said he was told. “What it’s got to be a direct path.”
Servais pointed out that we would probably see this called quite a bit as it is top of mind for the umpires.
“With the new rule the umpires are way tuned into it,” he said. “They are going to call it immediately, especially in spring training and early in the season. There’s no doubt they are going to be looking for it.”
-Danny Hultzen who should make his spring debut early next week is scheduled to throw a live BP today.