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Mariners notebook: Intrasquad games near plus reason for earlier start times

Mariners OF Jake Fraley was checked out Tuesday after being hit by a pitch. (Getty)

With four days of Summer Camp under the Mariners’ belts, manager Scott Servais and his staff held a meeting to review where they were at and make adjustments as needed with their new routines at T-Mobile Park and CenturyLink Field.

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The view from the press box would indicate that the drills have been running smoothly, but with so little time to get ready for the 60-game season that begins July 24, Servais wants to make sure the Mariners get everything out of the time that they have.

“The No. 1 goal of this camp is keeping everyone healthy as best we can. It’s really the focus right now more so than anything else,” Servais said. “We’ve never done this before. I think the players are getting their work in, I know from the feedback we are getting that they like the workouts – that they are in and they are out. We will start breaking up the staff and moving those guys around too just so we stay diligent with the safety protocols.”

Starting Friday, the routines will change as intrasquad play will begin and continue every day until the Mariners leave for the season opener in Houston. While the team has been broken into morning and afternoon workout groups, with most of the veterans or regulars in the morning session and they younger players in the afternoon, when the games start it will be those who are not scheduled to play reporting in the a.m. and the game squad arriving later in the day.

Servais has decided to take advantage of the scheduling flexibility he has with no opponent and will eventually hold the intrasquad games in the late afternoon or early evening so the players can start to get on more of a regular season sleep schedule, which can help with recovery.

“We are probably going to switch into that mode earlier than what I was originally thinking about. We may even start to see some of that early next week,” he said.

The intrasquad games will be set up to accommodate innings needs for the pitchers and at-bats for the hitters. While we could see some longer games as the season approaches, games will be just five or six innings early on. These games will obviously be different from what they would normally get in spring training, but if the back-and-forth Servais heard in the clubhouse Tuesday morning before live batting practice sessions was any indication, he believes they can be competitive.

“There’s a few guys that Taijuan Walker wants a piece of today and some of those guys are ready to go,” Servais said. “The competitiveness starts to come out, which is great. Without outside competition, it is a way to increase the intensity a little bit.”

Reason for earlier home starts

If the home start times in the Mariners’ 2020 schedule (which was released Monday) left you scratching your head a bit, here’s some explanation.

First, the easy part. Home Saturday games will start at 6:10 p.m. and home Sunday games 1:10 p.m. The one exception will be the final game of the year when all teams start at the same time. The rest of the start times would appear to have little rhyme or reason but hang with me here – there actually is.

For the most part the Mariners were looking to build their schedule off of 6:40 p.m. start times from Monday to Friday, a half hour earlier than the 7:10 p.m. first pitch we have seen at home in years past. The exception: games against the Texas teams. In an effort to keep road games for the Rangers and Astros in prime time in their home markets, the league has mandated that their division road games start at 6:10 pm. Conversely, the Astros and Rangers will start weekday home games against division foes at 8:05 or 8:10 pm Central, which will ensure the West Coast teams better viewing times.

There is one 7:10 home start this season and that comes Aug. 4 in a game vs. the Angels that will be televised on ESPN. A few other exceptions are made to accommodate travel for visiting teams. All games will be broadcast on 710 ESPN Seattle but it might be a good idea to keep a schedule handy if you don’t want to miss first pitch.

Mariners notes

• The Mariners will have one off day during Summer Camp which is tentatively scheduled for July 17.

• Catcher Tom Murphy fouled a ball off his foot Sunday and was limited in his activities Monday. X-rays came back negative and he was able to catch Walker’s live batting practice session and take BP Tuesday.

• A bit of a bigger scare as outfielder Jake Fraley was hit in the head Tuesday while facing Gerson Bautista in live BP. Fraley attempted to duck out of the way and was able to stay on his field as the pitch knocked his helmet off. After being looked at by a trainer for a couple of minutes, he was taken into the clubhouse. On the way to the steps he showed Servais where on the helmet he was hit. It did not appear to hit him square.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Shannon Drayer on Twitter.

Full details: Mariners’ 60-game schedule released