SHANNON DRAYER

Mariners notebook: Possible opening day lineup in play; Mike Ford returned to NYY

Mar 24, 2018, 3:26 PM | Updated: 3:49 pm
Robinson Cano and Jean Segura are playing in a potential preview of the opening day lineup. (AP)...
Robinson Cano and Jean Segura are playing in a potential preview of the opening day lineup. (AP)
(AP)

PEORIA, Ariz. – The big league clubhouse at the Mariners’ spring training complex is now down two more players. Chasen Bradford, who was battling for a spot in the bullpen, has been optioned to Triple-A Tacoma, and Rule 5 pick Mike Ford has been returned to the Yankees.

LeBlanc returns to M’s as bullpen help and perhaps more

While the Mariners liked what they saw in Ford, as a Rule 5 pick they would have had to keep him on the 25-man roster all season long to retain his rights. With the decision to go with eight in the pen and the emergence of Daniel Vogelbach, it was obvious there was no room on the big league roster for him. He cleared waivers and was offered back to the Yankees, who optioned him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

With the moves the Mariners now have 34 players remaining in camp.

Lineup! vs. Cubs
6:40 p.m. on 710 ESPN Seattle

Dee Gordon, CF
Jean Segura, SS
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nelson Cruz, DH
Kyle Seager, 3B
Ryon Healy, 1B
Mitch Haniger, RF
Mike Zunino, C
Guillermo Heredia, LF

Felix Hernandez, RHP

Also scheduled to pitch: Marc Rzepczynski, Ariel Miranda, Ryan Cook, Dan Altavilla.

There is a very good chance this is the opening day lineup, give or take an Ichiro Suzuki. While the batting order’s 1-5 and 9 seem to be all but set, nothing is set in stone as of yet with 6-7-8.

“You can do a lot of things 6-7-8, all righties,” manager Scott Servais said. “Z (Zunino) has been very hot this spring, been very productive. Healy has been swinging the bat very well. Haniger hasn’t been as hot or swinging as well. It will fluctuate back and forth with those guys depending on how they are going. It will probably be very fluid throughout the season.”

Notes

• There was some thought to putting Ichiro in the lineup a day after he was hit in the back of the helmet and neck in a minor league game, but the decision was to give him a day off before returning to games. The hope is he can take batting practice on the field Saturday afternoon.

• Felix will be on a pitch count of 60-65 against the Cubs. “Four innings, up to 65 pitches is the goal. I would feel pretty good about that,” Servais said.

• Servais was wearing a Mariners t-shirt with the #4Mom logo on it. If you have somehow managed to miss the story, 4MOM is the charity (and movement in baseball at all levels) to support Alzheimer’s disease research that Mariners outfield prospect Braden Bishop founded. Bishop’s mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s in 2015. The players in the big league clubhouse will be given the t-shirts today in their daily meeting and Servais will ask each of them to make a donation. “He’s played really well in camp,” Servais said of Bishop. “He’s a great kid, got a lot going on in his life. We are here to support him.”

Work in minors games proving valuable for Cano, Cruz, Healy

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Mariners notebook: Possible opening day lineup in play; Mike Ford returned to NYY