Mariners lefties past and future take center stage
By Shannon Drayer
I lost track of the number of people I saw who picked up the game notes Monday, scanned the upcoming pitching matchups and asked, “Travis Blackley?”
Yep. Travis Blackley. Former Mariners pitching prospect. At one time ranked behind Felix Hernandez and Clint Nageotte as the organization’s best pitching prospect. A former Baseball America top 100 prospect. Australian lefty, someone many thought would be around for years with a low-90s fastball and a terrific changeup.
Blackley was called up in July of 2004. He won his first start then got shelled in his next three and was sent back down after a month in the bigs. We thought he would work some things out and we would see him again sometime. It never happened.
He tore his labrum and sat out the next season. He spent 2006 in the minors and put up decent numbers. At the end of spring training the following year he was traded to the Giants for Jason Ellison. He pitched 8 2/3 innings for San Fransisco and did not throw another inning in the big leagues until this year.
I saw Blackley from time to time in spring training as he caught on with other teams the next few years. He spent 2011 pitching in Korea. He started this year with the Giants, who placed him on waivers late last month. He had spent 2010 in the A’s organization and played for Bob Melvin in Seattle. They picked him up and he has pitched well for them both out of the bullpen and as a starter.
It’s been a long road back for Blackley, who I caught up with for a couple of minutes in the visitor’s clubhouse. He was still listening to the same music he listened to back then, turned all the way up on his iPod. He still was a great talker. He showed me a picture of his 7-year-old son and talked about his brother in Australia. Same Travis. He did say he would look different on the mound. He no longer throws the changeup much. A long road back but great to see him in the big leagues after so long.
As for the other lefties it looks like will meet in Tacoma on Thursday, we received unofficial word mid-game in the broadcast booth Monday night that Jamie Moyer had signed with the Blue Jays and would be assigned to the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s. We also heard that his first start would most likely be Thursday. Who are the 51s playing Thursday? Tacoma, of course. Who is scheduled to start for the Rainiers? Danny Hultzen.
The Jays have officially announced the signing but not when Moyer will pitch, so keep your eyes open for this.
Mariners past meeting Mariners future in Tacoma? I am not sure I would say that is priceless but definitely worth the price of admission at Cheney Stadium.