SHANNON DRAYER

Drayer’s Mariners Notebook: Expectations for demoted players, more

Mar 23, 2024, 5:41 PM

Seattle Mariners Emerson Hancock...

Emerson Hancock of the Seattle Mariners pitches on Aug. 20, 2023. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

(Bob Levey/Getty Images)

When you enter the Seattle Mariners’ complex from the players and staff parking lot, the first long hallway you pass is the one that leads to the minor league side of the facility.

Drayer: A look around the diamond as Seattle Mariners near opening day

On Saturday morning, Emerson Hancock popped out of one of the doorways and went down that hall, which this time of spring can only mean one thing – roster moves.

Hancock and others have had good springs, but that is only part of the equation that lands a young player on the final 26-man roster. There has to be an opening and this spring, there were few.

“There are some guys who are not going to make our team that have had the type of spring they would normally make your team. So there will be some tougher conversations here in the next couple of days where some guys are very deserving of making our team but our team is set,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais earlier this week.

For Hancock, coming into the spring there was not an available spot. Barring injury, there was not an available spot on the position player side of things either, and it appears the final 13 will be what is expected.

That is very good for the Mariners when it comes to depth both in what they will bring back to Seattle and have available when the need arises. For some players who don’t make the team out of spring training, it can be a tough pill to swallow regardless of the situation. For them, the conversation Servais has with them to give them the news can be critical in sending them out on the right note and with the right focus.

“I think it’s really important to be as honest as you possibly can be, and it’s a different conversation than if I’m talking to (top prospects like) Harry Ford or Cole Young,” he said. “Obviously the guys at the end have got more experience, they’ve been sent down out of camps before. Maybe they’re in a different situation than they have been in the past based on where they are in our depth chart. So I lay it out there. ‘This is where you’re at, we fully expect to see you back here to help.'”

What the Mariners don’t want to see is players getting caught up in the situation, focusing too much on potential opportunities on the big league team or perhaps even looking for others to struggle.

“Then you’re losing focus on what you need to do,”Servais pointed out. “It’s about making sure you’re in a good spot, that you’re contributing wherever you’re playing and that when the opportunity comes, I can take it and run with it because I’m playing at a very high level. I’ve seen a lot of players who have great springs go down and get off to horrific starts and it takes them a month of getting out of their own way and getting their focus back where it needs to be. But it’s a month they wasted of the season. Now we got an injury and now we don’t call this guy (up), he’s one for his last 21, he’s made four errors in the last week, he’s not in a good spot. We’re not going to get that guy at the major league level with how we’re built right now. It’s about what’s going to help us to win that night.”

Along with Hancock, Samad Taylor was also optioned to Triple-A Tacoma and Michael Papierski, the last catcher not named Cal Raleigh or Seby Zavala, was re-assigned to minor league camp, bringing the major league camp roster to 34. They, along with others, have had good camps or opened eyes. What’s next for them has been laid out in detailed player plans, and the conversations with Servais.

“You just try to be honest,” he said “Here’s where you’re at. Here’s the guys that are in front of you. Here’s the things you need to continue to work on and give them a good layout. You’re going to play these different positions. You’re going to play this much. These guys will be back to help us, there’s no question.”

More Seattle Mariners Notes

• The Mariners leave for San Diego where they will play two exhibition games against the Padres after a game against the Cubs in Peoria on Sunday at 1:05.

A note to those in Peoria: The final morning of spring training is always a scramble. The Mariners will “show and go” for the game, with no scheduled batting practice or drills on the complex fields beforehand.

• The young Mariners finally got their day with the Spring Breakout game against the Padres’ future stars. The Mariners lost the game 13-10, but their were plenty of highlights both on the field, and it turns out off the field as well when 2023 first-round pick Colt Emerson joined the broadcast.

Afterward, Emerson explained, “Baseball gets me excited.” We certainly could tell.

You might notice the vintage Mariners turtleneck Emerson is flashing. He saw the mental skills coach in A-ball wearing one and decided he too had to have one.

“I was like man, that’s so awesome because I wore one in high school half the time and I was like that’s such a great look that nobody wears anymore. So I went on eBay and I found a large. I don’t wear a large, I wear an XL. But I found a large, cut the sleeves off of it and now I am rocking it. It’s an amazing look that more guys should wear. It’s amazing. eBay’s the spot if you want to find the ’90s turtleneck and look like Ichiro.”

Drayer: Where Seattle Mariners stand as they enter final days of spring

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