Mariners Notebook: Leadoff spot in focus; several bullpen updates
PEORIA, Ariz. – Game 3 of 18 this spring will feature our first look at Chris Flexen on the hill as the Mariners host the Angels at 1:10 p.m. on Seattle Sports 710 AM.
Mariners assistant GM: Jesse Winker was “most special bat available”
Like Marco Gonzales on Friday, Flexen is scheduled for three innings, pitch count permitting. He will face what looks like a split squad lineup from the traveling Angels, with notables such as Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout, David Fletcher and Anthony Rendon not making the trip. As for the lineup behind Flexen?
J.P. Crawford, SS
Jesse Winker, LF
Ty France, 1B
Mitch Haniger, RF
Adam Frazier, 2B
Eugenio Suárez, 3B
Jarred Kelenic, CF
Tom Murphy, C
Cal Raleigh, DH
Chris Flexen, SP
If you are tempted to read much into the lineup, don’t. That’s what Scott Servais said this morning, relaying that it is one of many lineups we will see this spring and throughout the 2022 season.
It is, however, worth speculating who we could see in specific spots in the order. The leadoff spot, for example, where there is some intrigue. By the slash lines from last season, Adam Frazier has the edge (.318/.377/.448, .825 OPS) over J.P. Crawford (.281/.345/.390, .735) in similar plate appearances, but Servais will look at more than slash lines to determine who fits where best.
“I thought J.P. did a nice job last year (hitting leadoff),” he said. “It’s about creating opportunities and getting on base. I thought J.P.’s swing decisions (were good). J.P. is super competitive. He seems to find a way to get on base when you need it certainly late in games, the big at-bat. Things like that he enjoys. Adam Frazier has done it, Hanny (Mitch Haniger) has done it. We’ve got options.”
• The Mariners were hit with their first piece of bad news of the spring Sunday morning as Servais revealed that right-handed reliever Casey Sadler is dealing with more than soreness in his throwing shoulder and is seeking treatment options.
“Not great. He’s going to be down for some time,” Servais said. “We will have to wait and see what the ultimate decision is there. You won’t see him for some time.”
Sadler was depended on to get critical, mid-game outs as a bridge to Drew Steckenrider and Paul Sewald in the second half last season and proved very effective. The Mariners have depth in the high-leverage reliever department, but nonetheless, Sadler is a significant loss.
Update: Sadler shared a video on his Twitter account Sunday afternoon indicating that he will miss the 2022 season.
• On a brighter note, Ken Giles was up to 95 mph in his live session Saturday. A veteran closer who the Mariners signed prior to the 2021 season knowing he was out until 2022 due to Tommy John surgery, Giles has not thrown in a game since September 2020 and the Mariners are, as you might expect, taking it slow with him. He likely will throw two more live sessions before getting into a game.
• More reliever news. The Mariners have added veteran left-handed reliever Ryan Buchter on a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. The 35-year-old Buchter has pitched for six MLB teams over seven seasons. He appeared in 18 games with Arizona in 2021, posting a 7.16 ERA with 16 strikeouts to 13 walks over 16 1/3 innings. He had back-to-back seasons of at least 54 appearances and a sub-3.00 ERA for Oakland in 2018-19.
• No word yet as to when we could see outfielder Kyle Lewis in a game. Lewis, coming off season-ending knee surgery, has had an on the field/off the field day-to-day schedule since the start of camp, and while he has hit in the cages, he has yet to participate fully in fielding drills. The last hurdle he must clear before entering games will be running the bases at full speed and making cuts. No word yet on when we could see that but Servais said the Mariners are happy with his progression so far.
• Speaking of cuts, we could see some as soon as Monday. With 65 players (38 on the 40-man roster, 27 non-roster invites) in camp, Servais anticipates 10 to 12 cuts over the next couple of days.
Saturday’s Notebook: A look at Rodríguez in CF fresh off electric spring debut