Mariners notebook: Danny Hultzen among first cuts
PEORIA, Ariz. – The Mariners made first cuts Sunday morning. With pitchers needing more innings and hitters more at-bats, the camp was too big and it was time to send players out. Not an easy day for manager Lloyd McClendon, who had to deliver the tough news to a group of players he clearly liked and paid special attention to the past two weeks.
“They all did in one way or another,” he answered when asked if they left a good impression. “The one thing we try to accomplish is that they leave the camp feeling good about themselves and the experience they had here. I think we did that for the most part. We tried to take a look at all of them and have them leave on a positive note and something they can feel good about.”
Danny Hultzen is one of those players. He has been in my opinion the best story of early camp, coming back from injury, having what could be called a normal spring training and then pitching in a Cactus League game. McClendon liked what he saw but wouldn’t allow himself to be tempted by an arm that could only help him in the spring.
“Listen, from a selfish standpoint I could have kept Danny Hultzen here, but I figured, why torture myself?” he said. “The best thing is to get him out of camp and let him go pitch and compete. This guy is a competitor, he’s a winner, and I know the right thing to do is not have him in this camp to continue to compete and make this club because he wasn’t going to make this club. The best thing to do is get him out and let him go get ready for the season.”
It is all about protecting Hultzen in his first year back from surgery.
“It is something that we have to be right on with,” McClendon said. “Making sure that this young man is healthy throughout the year. If anything we are going to err on the side of caution with him, partly with the number of innings and number of pitches within innings, but at the same time we have to treat him as he is a healthy pitcher.”
The plan going forward is still being formulated but McClendon confirmed that Hultzen will start with a warmer-weather team.
“I’m very pleased at where he is right now,” McClendon said. “Obviously, he has worked hard. The plan is going to be set for us to be able to keep him healthy and pitching throughout the year.”
In addition to Hultzen, Julio Morban and Mike Kickham were also optioned to Triple-A Tacoma. All three are on the the 40-man roster so the option move was required. The following players were re-assigned to minor-league camp: Sam Gaviglio, Stephen Landazuri, Forrest Snow, Steven Baron, Mike Dowd, Tyler Marlette and Jordy Lara.
Austin Jackson, CF
Justin Ruggiano, LF
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nelson Cruz, RF
Rickie Weeks, DH
Logan Morrison, 1B
Mike Zunino, C
D.J. Peterson, 3B
Ketel Marte, SS
Roenis Elias, SP
• Felix Hernandez is scheduled to throw three to four innings in a simulated game on a lower field at 10:30.