SHANNON DRAYER

Mariners Notebook: Plenty of intrigue with lineup, George Kirby vs D-backs

Mar 21, 2022, 10:54 AM | Updated: 11:21 am
Mariners Scott Servais Jarred Kelenic...
Jarred Kelenic and manager Scott Servais talk before a Mariners game against the Angels on Oct. 1. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

As the Mariners get set to hit the road for the first time this spring, an odd sight in the Peoria clubhouse Monday morning: the vast majority of veteran players had grey pants hanging in their lockers.

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It’s rare that you see the No. 1’s in an early road game – vets prefer not to travel in the spring – but when you have only 18 games to get ready, the unwritten rules go out the window. As such, with the pitching that was already scheduled for the game against the Diamondbacks, this game will have a ton to keep an eye on.

Lineup!

J.P. Crawford, SS
Ty France, 1B
Jesse Winker, LF
Mitch Haniger, DH
Adam Frazier, 2B
Abraham Toro, 3B
Jarred Kelenic, RF
Julio Rodríguez, CF
Luis Torrens, C

George Kirby, RHP

Game: Mariners at Diamondbacks, 1:10 p.m. (radio broadcast live on Mariners.com, tape delayed 7 p.m. on Seattle Sports 710 AM)

Lots still to learn about Abraham Toro at third (his natural position), Luis Torrens behind the plate (yes, it appears he could play there a decent amount this year), and Julio Rodríguez in center with Jarred Kelenic in right (eye emojis)? Good stuff.

The headliner remains George Kirby, however, making his first start against big leaguers with Matt Brash following. How will Kirby, the Mariners’ top pitching prospect, respond?

Manager Scott Servais has pointed out multiple times this spring it is a complete unknown anytime a young pitcher pitches in his first game against big leaguers. Just three short years ago, Logan Gilbert was surprised by a big case of the nerves facing big league hitters for the first time and failed to get out of his inning of relief against Cleveland. Two days ago, however, Levi Stoudt – who could battle for the fifth spot in the rotation – was unfazed by the situation even when Dodgers hitters tried to jump on him, swinging early and often out of the gates.

“I’d love to see him confident,” Servais said of Kirby. “We will just see how it plays out today. You kind of have to let them go a little bit, let them find their way.”

If it goes poorly, it’s a freebie, a learning experience. If it goes well, it could be a lot of fun.

Mariners notes

• Kirby is scheduled to get three innings, pitch count permitting, and Brash two innings. Evan White, who missed most of last season with a hip injury, is also expected to get into this game to see his first action of the spring as a substitute at DH.

• Paul Sewald is scheduled to make his spring debut in this game, pitching one inning. The compressed schedule will make getting relievers fully ready a challenge with Servais admitting Monday morning that many would likely not get the opportunity to go back to back in spring outings this year.

• On that note, Servais is hoping to hear in the next week whether or not teams will be allowed to carry an extra pitcher or two to start the season.

• There was a new face in the clubhouse as veteran outfielder Billy Hamilton was seen saying hellos before settling into his locker Monday morning. Hamilton has been signed to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. If the 13 pitchers, 13 position players roster rule is not put into effect this season, there would not appear to be an easy fit for Hamilton, but if it is and the Mariners are forced to go with a four-man bench, the speedster could be an interesting addition.

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Mariners Notebook: Plenty of intrigue with lineup, George Kirby vs D-backs