Mariners Notebook: Latest on Dylan Moore, Andrés Muñoz, Evan White
It was a busy day for the Mariners on Thursday in Peoria with a ‘B’ game scheduled early to make up for work lost to Wednesday’s rainout, George Kirby getting the start against the Giants in the main stadium, a couple of returns from the World Baseball Classic, and a bit of worrisome news thrown in as well.
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We will get the potentially bad out of the way first. Utility player Dylan Moore was scheduled to make his first appearance in a spring game and was indeed in the original lineup batting seventh, playing shortstop.
“He’s playing today, that was the goal,” manager Scott Servais said in his morning meeting with the media. “He’s been ramped up, feels good, will play shortstop today.”
Moore, who has been slow-played in camp after an early December core surgery, has made his progression through the different checks to get back into games. He’s been hitting for weeks now, taking at-bats in live batting practice. Running was the final hurdle and it appeared he was ready to go, but it was announced that he had been scratched from the lineup just an hour after the media session.
After the game, a scoreless tie with the Giants (box score), Servais said that Moore felt something in his side swinging in the batting cages and he was scheduled to get an MRI tomorrow.
Moore’s role has been expanded this year to be Kolten Wong’s right-handed platoon partner at second base and fill in at shortstop for J.P. Crawford, who the team intends to get more days off. While no news is no news, this is starting to veer into the concerning department with just two weeks to go until the start of the season. Any setback at this point could put opening day in jeopardy for Moore. We should learn more Friday.
On a better note, Andrés Muñoz made his spring game debut, pitching an inning in the B game against the Padres. Coming off offseason surgery, it was a mixed affair for Muñoz with the fastball sitting 97-98 mph according to scouts on hand, and the two-seamer nasty early on. He did have some struggles however in the 18 pitches he threw and came away from the inning knowing he needed to make some adjustments.
“I was thinking too much about the pitch clock,” Muñoz said. “I started to speed up every time, something I never expected to happen.”
Muñoz was one of the slowest Mariners between pitches last year. The long walks around the mound would give him a chance to calm down his ankle that was surgically repaired in the offseason. It also gave him a chance to gather his energy and focus on the next pitch.
“Right now I just have to figure out what I need to do to be more aggressive on every pitch, even if I have to do it faster,” he said.
While many pitchers commented that the clock was on their minds in their first outings, for most they discovered they had more time than they expected. For Muñoz, it was the opposite. He will need time to adjust, with the good news being he will do so without the pain he was dealing with for the majority of 2022.
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We could see more spring roster cuts on Friday. There have been a few here, a few there, most announced later in the day after media had access to the manager for comments. On Thursday, I doubled back and asked about a couple of recent cuts.
On Evan White, Servais noted that he was up front with the first baseman from the start of spring training that he wouldn’t be making any decisions based on just 15 spring at-bats.
“He needs to just go play,” Servais said. “He knows he’s got to put consistent at-bats together and get it going there.”
The “there” is Triple-A Tacoma, a place Servais believes should provide the pitching that White, who has missed the majority of the past two seasons due to injuries, needs to see.
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“The pitching in April is really good (in Triple-A),” he said. “There are a lot of guys in the bullpen, one or two in the rotation, that are disappointed and ticked off they didn’t make the MLB team. Eventually they will be there in May and June, but in April, it’s pretty good.”
Prelander Berroa was another name of interest. The pitching prospect will start the season at Double-A Arkansas, and while some project him to be a reliever with his high-velocity fastball and wicked slider, he will be kept in the rotation where he can get more work.
“He has a ton of confidence in his slider,” Servais noted. “The consistency, the command of his fastball? He’s a young pitcher.”
Servais acknowledged that if Berroa, who also has a decent changeup, could improve the command of his fastball, he could be a very enticing arm for the Mariners bullpen should a need arise.
• Catcher prospect Harry Ford and reliever Matt Brash were back in the Mariners’ clubhouse Thursday morning after their World Baseball Classic teams (Great Britain for Ford, Canada for Brash) were eliminated Wednesday following pool play in Phoenix. Julio Rodríguez, Teoscar Hernández and Diego Castillo, who were all playing for the Dominican Republic in Miami, are expected back Friday.
• J.P. Crawford DH’d once again Thursday afternoon. He has been receiving treatment on his sore shoulder and playing catch from a long distance. The hope is he can return to the field Sunday or Monday.
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