Mariners notebook: Gordon back in action, Smith and Moore making debuts
With five intrasquad games remaining until the team leaves for Houston the Mariners have shifted their intrasquad games to 6:10 starts to help get the players on a regular season sleep schedule. In addition to the start time shift, we will also start to get a better look at what is expected to be the team with most every day regulars on one team and taxi squad players on the other.
To further maximize what they have to work with with go time just around the corner. if Saturday’s teams are any indication we should see the starters facing the 30-man team.
Long Jr., 2B
Also included in the lineup, three very welcome returns.
Dee Gordon is back after missing a couple of days and Mallex Smith and Dylan Moore will both make their summer debuts after taking some time to clear testing. With the Mariners needing to play staff members in left field last week, the question now is can the new arrivals, particularly Mallex Smith, get up to speed in time for Opening Day?
“Mallex, he’s going to be ready by Friday, I feel pretty confident in that,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais before indicating that there are different levels of readiness. “These guys are going to play only four to five games. If we get into Friday, they might not be in the Opening Day lineup. They may not run out there and play seven, eight, 10 days in a row. We are just going to have to work them in. It’s unfortunate they didn’t have the whole summer camp to prepare, but that’s the cards they were dealt and we will just have to try to make the best of it and get them up to speed as quick as we can.”
Smith will be on the team but Moore falls into one of the two categories where there is competition for spots.
“There are some tough decisions to be made here,” said Servais. “You start looking at utility spots, certainly the guys who can go in the infield and outfield are pretty valuable for where we are at.”
The bullpen is the other spot where a few positions remain up for grabs. Versatility will be key here as well with Servais looking for pitchers who can go multiple innings. Look for a number relievers to be stretched out this week as the starters with the short build up period will be limited in their first couple of outings. The Mariners are hoping to get 50 pitches, 3 or 4 innings from Gonzales, who is making his final intrasquad start before Opening Day.
• About that rotation … Servais confirmed Saturday that the rotation order would most likely be what we have seen the past two weeks, Gonzales, Taijuan Walker, Yusei Kikuchi, Kendall Graveman, Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn.
• We’ve got games on the radio coming up. The full radio/TV/YouTube schedule for the final week of intrasquad games is available here:
No intrasquad game today… 😭
…but we’re playing nine innings tomorrow! 😃
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) July 17, 2020
• The update on Julio Rodriguez, who received further testing on his left wrist after suffering a hairline fracture diving for a ball Wednesday, is that no surgery will be required. The wrist will be placed in protective gear and he will not take part in any baseball activity for four to six weeks after which he will be re-evaluated. The hope is he will be able to pick up some at bats on his home team in the Dominican Republic in Winter Ball this fall.
• Last year, some of Justus Sheffield’s struggles in Triple-A were attributed to getting to fired up on the hill. Servais had an interesting answer when asked what he has seen in that regard this year.
“Shef’s one of the guys – and we have a handful of them here in camp – that might benefit from not having fans in the stands,” he said. “It just calms everything down a little bit and the hype meter doesn’t get risen as quickly in the game.
“He’s maturing. Young pitchers, they all have hurdles to get over, one of which for Shef is when it starts going fast how do you slow it down? It’s not so much how you do it mentally but what pitches do you go to? The catchers have a better idea now that they have dealt with him and worked with him more and know what to do to get him back in sync.”
Overall, the Mariners have been very pleased with what they have seen from Sheffield.
“I’ve been very impressed with Shef really from the first day of spring training in Peoria he’s had a different aura about him, much more confident and he’s got weapons to get him out of trouble,” Servais said.