Mariners notebook: Guillermo Heredia optioned to Double-A, trim down to 50 in camp
The Mariners have started to trim down at spring training, optioning Guillermo Heredia to Double-A Jackson and reassigning six others to minor league camp Sunday.
They also announced the release of first baseman Gaby Sanchez on Sunday afternoon, somewhat clearing up the picture in the battle to be the right-handed half in a platoon with Adam Lind.
Heredia, a 25-year-old outfielder from Cuba the Mariners signed last month, was a defensive replacement in center and saw his first at-bat in Cactus League play in Saturday’s split-squad loss to the Dodgers. He bunted runners over in his plate appearance.
Mariners manager Scott Servais told members of the media Sunday that sending Heredia to Double-A will give Heredia a chance to get comfortable in his new country.
“The culture change is going to be the biggest hurdle to overcome. I’ve been around Cuban players that come over – it took (fellow Cuban and Mariners outfielder) Leonys Martin a while – just to get comfortable with the language and the food and kinda communicate,” Servais said. “It’s just about getting him off to a good start and putting him in an environment he’s comfortable with, and we’ve got somebody there that can help along the way … He’s a really smart kid. It’s clear he’s already starting to pick up the language a little bit and his answers to questions are very good. I’m excited to see how it plays out for him.”
Servais added that the Mariners want to get a good look at how Heredia handles the bat in the minors.
“There’s enough skills in the outfield, baserunning,” he said. “You gotta see how the bat’s gonna play out. That’ll be the determining factor for him.”
Going to minor league camp are lefty reliever Paul Fry, catchers Marcus Littlewood and Steve Lerud, infielders Benji Gonzalez and Tyler Smith, and outfielder Dario Pizzano.
Fry, 23, could end up finding his way into the Mariners bullpen at some point this season, but an illness coming out of the winter put him a little behind in spring training.
“He was sick at the end of the offseason so he had lost a bunch of weight,” Servais said. “Probably didn’t see the best of Paul Fry. He admitted that.”
Sanchez, 32, is a seven-year MLB veteran who spent 2015 hitting .226 in Japan.
The Mariners, who also reassigned outfielder Mike Baxter and left-handed pitchers Danny Hultzen and Brad Mills to minor league camp Saturday, are down to 50 players in their major league camp.
Nori Aoki, LF
Boog Powell, CF
Seth Smith, DH
Nelson Cruz, RF
Chris Iannetta, C
Luis Sardinas, SS
Jesus Montero, 1B
Chris Taylor, 2B
Ed Lucas, 3B
Nathan Karns, P
The Mariners will have the full squad available Sunday in Peoria against the Reds less than a day after sending a split squad to Goodyear to play the same Cincinnati team. With the regular infield getting action against the Dodgers in Saturday night’s other game, Seattle will have a much different look around the horn. Ed Lucas (third base), Chris Taylor (second base) and Luis Sardinas (shortstop) will look to show off their utility potential, while Jesus Montero has an opportunity to get some momentum in the battle for the right-handed platoon spot at first base. Nelson Cruz will be back out in the field as Seth Smith is penciled in at DH.
• A big day on the pitching front is upcoming Monday. Not only will Felix Hernandez make his 2016 Cactus League debut in a split-squad game against Colorado, but Taijuan Walker will be matched up against Arizona’s formidable lineup and the D-backs’ new ace, Zach Greinke, in the other game. Both contests are set for 1:10 p.m. starts. The Colorado game will air live on 710 ESPN Seattle.
• Cody Martin will get the start against the Brewers on Tuesday. Wade Miley will pitch in a minor league game that day rather than face the division-rival Angels for the second time this spring.
710Sports.com Mariners insider Shannon Drayer contributed to this report.