Mariners Notebook: What to expect in games; updates on France, relievers
Ready or not, here they come. After just three days devoted to full squad workouts, games begin Friday with Robbie Ray scheduled to take the hill for the Mariners’ Cactus League lid lifter.
A look at Mariners’ rotation that should be top 5 in MLB
The first week to 10 days should look like anything but a normal start to spring games with new rules being tested and players leaving to play for their countries in the World Baseball Classic.
Pitch clocks will be watched, allowable shifts explored (remember, this is not a ban of shifts altogether, rather restrictions put on how teams can shift), running games controlled, and base stealing and timing tested. Could we see the Mariners try a two-man outfield that some teams have been said to be ready to utilize? Sure, but I wouldn’t get too used to it.
“I probably kicked around the idea early on more to the point where I do take it to our analysts and look at risk versus reward,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “What’s the upside? Because we have some versatile guys.”
With utility players Sam Haggerty or Dylan Moore in left field, it would be easy for Seattle to shift them into the position in shallow right field that we have seen second baseman play in recent years for the big, extreme-pull left-handers. We will certainly hear the news out of camps, see the pictures and whatnot, but ultimately Servais does not see what is for now a legal outfielder shift taking over for what we saw with the infield shift.
“I don’t think you have to get over the top and try to reinvent the wheel here,” he said. “That’s just me. At the end of the day, is it really going to pay off over the long haul? But teams will try it. Players will try it. I’m curious how it plays out.”
As for the personnel on the field, with the exception of those leaving for the WBC, don’t expect to see the regulars in games for long or even at all. This is a long spring and ramp-ups for many will be timed accordingly. This will present a unique opportunity to see more of the younger players in camp than in a normal year.
“You’re always curious about how young players handle opportunities,” Servais said. “They’re going to let you know. We’ve got some interesting arms. I’m curious to see (catcher and top M’s prospect) Harry Ford, see how that plays out.”
Of course it is always tough to let players go and leave the controlled environment of camp. This year there is another downside as the WBC will not employ MLB’s new rules, so Julio Rodríguez, Eugenio Suárez, Teoscar Hernández, Diego Castillo, Matt Brash and Matt Festa will not have as much game time to adapt. Their returns, however, should intensify the final week to 10 days, giving the longer slate of Cactus League games the potential to be more interesting than most years.
• A record-sized Mariners camp (there are portable lockers in the main clubhouse right now) is about to get bigger. Veteran outfielder Kole Calhoun is set to join the club on a minor league deal, pending a physical. The Mariners have been looking for additional outfield depth with Taylor Trammell suffering a broken bone in his hand, and president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto sees Calhoun as a good fit with those in the clubhouse.
• A bit of a scary sight Thursday morning when Ty France emerged from the equipment manager’s office with what looked like a new cast on his hand and wrist. Turns out it was a mold for a wrist guard that the team has asked France to wear this year. France was hit by a pitch 21 times in 2022, fifth in MLB, and tied for the most in baseball in 2021 with 27. He noted Wednesday that wrist and elbow injuries hampered him in the second half last season.
Wednesday’s M’s notebook: Ty France refreshed after injuries hurt his hitting
• With the exception of Trammell, so far so good on the health front in camp (*knock knock knock*). Servais did report Thursday morning that they will continue to go slow with relievers Casey Sadler and Andrés Muñoz both coming off of surgery, but they are happy in particular with the status of Muñoz, who had an offseason procedure on his foot.
“Muñoz is actually ahead of schedule,” Servais said. “I am very happy with what I’ve seen there, and he feels good about where he’s at. There were some concerns. How many outings could he get down here before we open up, what kind of volume could he take on early in the season? We don’t know quite how that’s going to work out but I feel better about it now than I did probably two weeks ago.”
• The first Mariners Cactus League game is set for 12:10 p.m. Friday against the San Diego Padres at the Peoria Sports Complex shared by the two teams. San Diego will be designated as the home team. Full live coverage will be carried on Seattle Sports 710 AM and streaming on SeattleSports.com and the Seattle Sports app for listeners in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, British Columbia and Alaska, beginning with a 10-minute pregame show at noon. Seattle Sports will also broadcast Saturday’s home game against the Angels (12:10 p.m.) and Sunday’s road game with the Royals (12:05 p.m.) live.
For the full schedule of Mariners spring training broadcasts on Seattle Sports, click the link below.
2023 Mariners spring training radio schedule on Seattle Sports