Mariners notebook: M’s prepared for first split-squad games of spring

Mar 12, 2016, 4:30 PM | Updated: 4:45 pm
Steve Clevenger, Efren Navarro and Stefen Romero will all see action in Mariners games Saturday. (A...
Steve Clevenger, Efren Navarro and Stefen Romero will all see action in Mariners games Saturday. (AP)
(AP)

The Mariners have their first split-squad action of the spring Saturday with one group staying in Peoria to take on the Dodgers and the other heading to Goodyear to face the Reds. Scott Servais will stay with the team in Peoria and bench coach Tim Bogar will manage the group in Goodyear.

Home Lineup!

Nori Aoki, LF

Ketel Marte, SS

Robinson Cano, 2B

Nelson Cruz, DH

Adam Lind, 1B

Kyle Seager, 3B

Franklin Gutierrez, RF

Steve Clevenger, C

Boog Powell, CF

James Paxton, P

Paxton is scheduled to go four innings. Servais would like to see more of his breaking ball in this outing. Remember, Paxton was not allowed to throw the breaking ball in fall ball as he allowed his fingernail to heal completely. Justin De Fratus and Jonathon Aro are also scheduled to get innings. Of note, while De Fratus’ numbers last year would indicate that he was best in shorter outings, Servais has said that he needs De Fratus to be able to go multiple innings. That is the role he is competing for. I asked De Fratus about his use in Philadelphia and he said that he didn’t feel it was the innings that was the problem and he wasn’t going to use that as an excuse for his performance, but rather he was struggling with mechanics.

Of note in the lineup, Servais is keeping the regular infield together, as he has all spring. Franklin Gutierrez is making his first start in right field and we should see the Cactus League debut of Guillermo Heredia, who is on the board as the substitute in center. On a disappointing note, the game against the Dodgers will not feature a Seager vs. Seager matchup as Kyle Seager’s younger brother, Dodgers shortstop Corey, tweaked his knee Friday and will not make the trip. As I type this the LA beat writers are tweeting that he will get an MRI.
This game can be heard on 710 ESPN Seattle.

Road Lineup!

Leonys Martin, CF

Luis Sardinas, 2B

Seth Smith, RF

Stefen Romero, 1B

Efren Navarro, LF

Jesus Montero, DH

Mike Zunino, C

Chris Taylor, SS

Shawn O’Malley, 3B

Mike Montgomery, P

Of huge interest in this game is the spring debut of Mike Montgomery, who missed time following surgery to remove a cyst from his neck. Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. was impressed with what he saw from Montgomery in his live BP, particularly his breaking ball. Montgomery is out of minor league options, and if everyone stays healthy it would be tough to get him on the roster. If he has a good spring, however, he might net them something useful, perhaps a right-handed reliever, in trade. Also scheduled to pitch in this game is Vidal Nuno, with a number of minor leaguers to follow.

New kid in town

The Mariners have claimed catcher Rob Brantly off waivers from the White Sox. Brantly, who has hit .225/.286/.317 in parts of three big league seasons with the White Sox and Marlins, arrived in camp at 1:30 p.m. and could get an at-bat in the game against the Dodgers.

“I got to see him play a few years ago when he was in Triple-A,” said Servais. “He has a very good track record offensively in the minor leagues.”

Brantly, a left-handed hitter, is out of options and could challenge Steve Clevenger for the second catcher spot.

“It creates a little bit more depth for us there and we will see what plays out,” said Servais. “Everyone here is competing for a job. We will throw him in the mix and see what happens.”

To make room for Brantly on the 40-man roster, Ryan Cook has been placed on the 60-day DL. Cook is dealing with a significant lat issue.

Notes

• The Mariners appear to be taking it day-to-day with Charlie Furbush, as his next live BP has yet to be scheduled. “Physically he is fine, he is just not bouncing back as quick,” said Servais. “Maybe a little tight the day after he throws, he’s not jumping out playing catch right away. It’s just taking him a little bit longer to get ready to go.” Furbush threw his last live BP session Monday and has been playing catch – no bullpens – since. He will need another live throwing session before he can get into games and we are nearing the half-way point. “I am still anticipating him being on our club Opening Day, but obviously he has got to pitch in games,” said Servais. The words are optimistic but it appears the skipper is inching closer to concern.

• We could see first cuts as soon as Sunday. Servais indicated that they did have a meeting Saturday to discuss players.

• Neat note. I was talking with Nelson Cruz in the clubhouse Saturday afternoon for a piece that I am doing, and afterward I asked him about the trip he made to Cuba this winter as part of an MLB goodwill tour. I had heard he and the others had a great experience and I was curious as to what the highlight was for him. “Esquina Caliente,” he said. Excuse me? “Esquina Caliente, a giant park where people go to talk baseball,” he answered. Esquina Caliente, or “Hot Corner,” is just that. The corner of a large park in Havana where people go to discuss and debate, sometimes hotly, all things baseball. An offline, in-person, real-life baseball chat, no computer needed. “Exactly,” said Cruz. “Me and a guy come up with a a discussion about who would have a better team, Cuba or the DR.” And was he recognized? “Oh yes,” said Cruz. “First they were shocked. ‘Is that Nelson? Is that Puig? What?’ After a while we started talking and the discussions started going. That was crazy. You do that in the Domincan, but it was a huge, huge crowd. You could barely walk.” No doubt an incredible scene.

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