Daniel Vogelbach makes Mariners roster, but will Ichiro be ready?
PEORIA, Ariz. – A whirlwind of Mariners moves on Sunday.
The returning Wade LeBlanc was officially announced as signed and the veteran left-hander was in the clubhouse bright and early.
A number of players were sent out of Major League camp, as well:
Optioned to AAA Tacoma
• LHP Aríel Miranda
Re-assigned to minor league camp
• C Tuffy Gosewisch
• IF Zach Vincej
• RHP Ryan Cook
Staying in camp and heading to Seattle on Tuesday is first baseman Daniel Vogelbach. After a fantastic spring, Vogelbach was told Sunday he had made the club. How long the Mariners are able to keep him on the roster remains to be seen, but for now he takes the roster spot of the fifth starting pitcher that thanks to some off days in the early going will not be needed until April 11. His performance and changes made forced the issue, however, and he will be on the opening day roster.
“Vogey’s going to break (camp) with us,” manager Scott Servais said. “We will go with 12 pitchers out of the chute. I’m really happy for him and the way he has bounced back. He’s had a great spring.”
Servais said that he would look to keep Vogelbach’s bat going by getting him into a game in the first series against Cleveland. After that there could be pinch hitting opportunities, with two games in a National League park in the second series of the season against the Giants.
There is a very good chance that Miranda will be brought back to start the April 11 game in Kansas City. Servais has been very happy with what he has seen from Miranda as he continues to develop his secondary pitches.
“Miranda continues to impress,” Servais said. “I like where he’s at. He’s mixed in a different breaking ball, he has had a good camp.”
As for Cook, he showed well for a player who has been sidelined by injuries for the past two years. It is now a matter of getting him work and continuing to build him up. That will happen in the minor leagues.
“He needs to be in more of a normal bullpen routine,” said Servais, who pointed out that the Mariners took it slow with Cook in camp. “I think he plays a major role for us at some point of the season and helps us out. He’s a former All-Star (in 2012 with Oakland), he’s got good stuff. I really tip my cap to him, it’s been two years of grinding through to get to this point. His goal was to make this club and he almost did, but he understands.”
Vincej had a good run in camp with no clear path to the 25-man roster. He did earn the trust of his manager, however.
“He’s had a nice camp,” Servais said. “Very sure-handed, does a nice job at shortstop. If we need help he’s very capable of coming in and playing middle infield for us.”
• LeBlanc will pitch in a minor league game Monday. The plan for now is that he and Casey Lawrence will fill the multi-inning roles in the bullpen. Servais did allow for the chance that those roles could change, however, if another pitching acquisition is made before the start of the season.
• Ichiro will get at-bats in minor league games on Monday. There is some question if he can be ready for opening day after missing time with a calf injury. Servais will be watching Ichiro’s at-bats on the off day for the big league team and continue to talk with him to assess where he is in his readiness. “I think the biggest thing is you have got to communicate with players,” Servais said. “You have got to trust them and they have got to trust us. I certainly have a ton of trust in Ichiro and him knowing his body and what it is going to take to be ready for opening day, but we will talk later today.”
• Outfielder Ben Gamel (oblique) continues to progress and is ready to take his cage work to the field for batting practice. “He’s coming along quicker than expected,” said Servais, who pointed out that Gamel will need a rehab assignment before joining the Mariners early in the regular season as he has missed most of spring training.
• I would not expect the Mariners to lean too heavily on Guillermo Heredia in the outfield should Ichiro not be ready to go. “Guillermo got a ton of at-bats last year with Jarrod Dyson out,” Servais said. “I think he is best when he’s not running out there every single day, if you can match him up with somebody. But he certainly is capable, he gives you good at-bats. He will be at the bottom of the lineup and hopefully help us out when he is there.” I asked why Servais believed it was best not to play Heredia every day. “Understanding his swing, making adjustments, certain teams will attack him differently,” he said. “It’s not huge power, it’s not a Dee Gordon-type slasher, speed-type guy. He’s a little bit of a tweener. I like the way he plays, the baseball IQ is very high. He knows what he is doing on the field, he knows how to work his way through an at-bat, he brings a lot of positives. I think he could grow into it, he’s just not there right now.”