SHANNON DRAYER

Notebook: Mariners make more pitching moves

Mar 26, 2017, 10:11 AM | Updated: 11:26 am
Mariners...
The Mariners sent pitcher Cody Martin down to start the season in the minors. (AP)
(AP)

PEORIA, Ariz. – The Mariners have made four more roster moves, optioning Chris Heston to Triple-A Tacoma and reassigning Jean Machi, Nick Hagadone and Cody Martin to minor-league camp. Those moves leave the Mariners with 19 pitchers remaining in camp.

The Heston, Martin and Machi moves were expected. Some thought perhaps Hagadone would fill the second lefty role in the bullpen. But as I noted in a post yesterday, Hagadone is coming off elbow injuries and, despite his strong performance this spring, the Mariners would probably want to see him throw back-to-back games before bringing him north.

“He needs to stay healthy,” manager Scott Servais said Sunday morning. “He threw strikes and he did get his breaking ball over. I thought that would be a challenge for him; he did it. He showed very well.”

Hagadone, who threw in the mid-90’s before Tommy John surgery and two elbow fractures has had a fastball velocity of around 90 mph this spring. Servais believes Hagadone has enough velocity now to get by but is optimistic about what they could see with more time and regular work.

“He will have to stay healthy and pitch well in Tacoma to work his way into the mix,” Servais said. “I do think his stuff will eventually come back.”

Heston also had a favorable showing in camp. With five healthy starters, the writing was very much on the wall for him coming out of spring training. That said, Servais feels good about the insurance Heston provides.

“I like Chris Heston a lot,” Servais said. “He’s trying to make a few adjustments to his delivery to get on top of the ball and see a little more depth to his sinker. He likes where he is at, he knows he is in it for the long haul. I think you will see him at some point in Seattle.”

On the Cactus League Report, Heston told us that he has clicked with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr., as he was also a sinkerball pitcher. Both the team and player are encouraged by what they have seen this spring.

The bullpen intrigue remains even after Sunday’s moves. Marc Rzepczynski will be one of the lefties in a pen and only two others remain in camp, with James Pazos and Dean Kiekhefer still on the spring roster. There is a possibility the Mariners could go with three lefties as it looks more and more like the team will break camp with an extra reliever this year.

“We are looking at an eight-man bullpen,” Servais confirmed. “We play Houston seven times; they are a very balanced team with the left-handers they have added. Anaheim tends to be a little more right-handed. We are just trying to get the best guys we can that can serve in multiple roles in the bullpen. No final decisions have been made.”

A late spring pickup is also a possibility. Relievers will become available this week as teams trim their rosters, and the Mariners very well could have their eyes on a number of them.

Lineup vs Reds

Leonys Martin, DH
Mitch Haniger, RF
Kyle Seager, 3B
Danny Valencia, 1B
Taylor Motter, SS
Carlos Ruiz, C
Ben Gamel, LF
Tyler Smith, 2B
Guillermo Heredia, LF

Drew Smyly, LHP

Also scheduled to pitch: Edwin Diaz, Nick Vincent, Marc Rzepczynski, James Pazos and Tony Zych.

Notes:

-Zych makes his Cactus League debut Sunday, and while he has made good progress coming back from biceps-tendon surgery, the Mariners will not rush to get him on the Opening Day roster.

“I am not expecting him to break with us,” Servais said. “There is a program spaced out to make sure he gets the proper number of outings like a normal spring training.”

-Still no Robinson Cano or Nelson Cruz in the lineup as they battle the dreaded spring head cold. Both are on medication but still not ready to go.

“Robbie looks a little better, doesn’t have a headache anymore, but I don’t think he will be on the field today. Cruz, not so good,” Servais said.

– Jarrod Dyson will test his legs Sunday and could get some at-bats in a minor-league game where the Mariners can control his base running.

-From the fun and games department: Servais passed on an “analytical note” courtesy of first-base coach Casey Candaele.

“Casey Candaele is projected to run 864 sprints to first base this year. He has calculated how many times we are in the third-base dugout and he has to run to first over the course of a 162 games. The life of Casey Candaele.”

Next step, timing and statcast data on the Candaele sprints.

No starting pitcher.

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Notebook: Mariners make more pitching moves