Drayer on Mariners spring training: What we’ll be watching

Feb 15, 2023, 1:11 AM | Updated: 10:18 am
Mariners J.P. Crawford...
Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford warms up during a 2021 spring training game in Peoria, Ariz. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The not-so-offseason officially comes to an end for the Mariners as pitchers and catchers report to Peoria.

Drayer on Mariners: What we know and what will be answered in spring

In truth, a good number of players have been working out at the Mariners’ spring training complex in the last couple of weeks, but camp formally opens Wednesday with physicals to be followed by the first workout Thursday.

I will report to camp with the position players Monday, which will begin extensive coverage by Seattle Sports that will include the broadcast of all games (save for the away halves of two split-squads days) and visits by the full Brock and Salk (Feb. 26-March 3) and Wyman and Bob shows (March 20-24).

My goal as always is to be the eyes and ears in Arizona for the listeners and readers. This Mariners spring training will be different in so many ways – from raised expectations after ending the postseason drought, to losing six returning players for much of camp to the World Baseball Classic – so it’s time to refresh the spring training script.

Here are a few of the things I will have my eyes on.

The usuals

First and foremost, for the first day at least, will be the first clubhouse impression. I love the first day of school, and this is an annual favorite for me. The first walkthrough. The sights – which players are in the lockers of prestige, who is new, who stands out, is there anything new in the clubhouse? The sounds – who is the loud one, is there a ping pong game going on, who controls the music? Most importantly, the feel – is there a buzz, or is it laid back?

There will of course be the checking in on those who had offseason surgeries. Who is full-go, who is on the “slow play” list? As it is well established by now, everyone no doubt will be “in the best shape of their lives,” but it is still worth keeping an eye out for anyone in different shape. Pitchers with new pitches has always been a thing in spring training, with those new pitches often left in spring training. Not anymore. Thanks to performance centers like Driveline Baseball, these days the pitches are well beyond the experimental phase by the time camp opens and very worth watching.

Position battles are a usual, but heading into camp this year it is no secret they will be limited, and those who come up short are oh so very likely to still play significant roles during the season. Shy of absolutely falling on your face in games, I put little to nothing into spring training results. For young players in particular, the test comes in regular season games, but I am very curious to see what Jarred Kelenic and Taylor Trammell are doing after spending the winter with a hitting coach in California (Kelenic) and at Driveline (Trammell).

The not-so-usuals

Did you hear? Of course you did. There are a bevy of new rules being introduced this year and teams will have all of spring training to adjust.

With the shift restrictions and a new middle infielder for Seattle, it will be very interesting to see how shortstop J.P. Crawford and second baseman Kolten Wong (both Gold Glove winners) get on the same page. Throw a healthy amount of Dylan Moore into that mix, as well.

Which hitters or pitchers will most have their routines thrown off by the pitch clock? Will bigger bases and limited pickoff attempts mean more base stealing? Yes. Please.

What will all of this look like and how will it be coached? Will the Mariners find an advantage anywhere? Stay tuned.

Looking ahead

It’s a rare spring where there isn’t someone who ends up on the 26-man roster who shows up well after the reporting day, be it by trade or waiver claim. Will there be a surprise this year? The Mariners have starting pitching depth, and if a need arises elsewhere we could see a trade.

Finally, spring training is where so many prospects have jumped off the page and onto the field, providing that first look of the names we hear so much about down on the farm. We should get our first look at a Harry Ford batting practice, get to stand behind the catcher (and a fence, thank goodness) to see Bryce Miller’s fastball/slider combination, and hopefully get to watch Jonatan Clase fly. These players will be in major league camp to start, but it is well worth the trip down to the lower fields to to watch a game so close you can hear the conversations. That’s a tip!

Join us online or on the air, and if you are fortunate enough to be in Arizona, say hi.

2023 Mariners spring training radio schedule on Seattle Sports

Date Starting Pitcher
Sunday, March 26 @ 1:10 pm

Shannon Drayer

Mariners Andrés Muñoz...
Shannon Drayer

Drayer: Mariners fireballer Andrés Muñoz brings more than just new pitch into ’23

Hard-throwing Mariners reliever Andrés Muñoz is armed with more confidence after a great 2022 season -- plus a ridiculous new pitch.
3 days ago
Mariners Jarred Kelenic Tom Murphy...
Shannon Drayer

Mariners Notebook: Updates on Kelenic, Murphy; lineup to be ‘fluid’

Mariners insider Shannon Drayer has the latest on minor injuries to Jarred Kelenic and Tom Murphy and much more from spring training.
5 days ago
Mariners Logan Gilbert...
Shannon Drayer

Mariners Notebook: Gilbert shines; updates on dings and dents

Logan Gilbert had his best outing of the spring, while the bumps and bruises of Mariners camp are starting to pile up. Shannon Drayer has the details.
7 days ago
Mariners Robbie Ray...
Shannon Drayer

Mariners Notebook: Kelenic catches up to deGrom, Ray impresses again

Shannon Drayer details why the Mariners Radio Network team called an audible Sunday and what they saw from the M's against Jacob deGrom in Surprise.
8 days ago
Mariners George Kirby...
Shannon Drayer

Mariners’ George Kirby bringing confidence, ease into 2nd season

George Kirby was perhaps the best rookie pitcher in the AL last season, and the Mariners starter is working on building off that performance.
8 days ago
Mariners Dylan Moore...
Shannon Drayer

Mariners Notebook: Moore out ‘at least a couple weeks,’ WBC guys return

Mariners insider Shannon Drayer has the latest on Dylan Moore's injury and how long he'll be out as well as much more in her latest notebook.
10 days ago
Drayer on Mariners spring training: What we’ll be watching