Getting the pitchers ready will be a challenge
By Shannon Drayer
Probably everyone involved with baseball at some point has said that spring training is too long. I don’t think we are going to hear that from the Mariners, at least not until they return from Japan.
It is going to be an all-out scramble to get ready for the first two games. Yes, the Mariners and A’s were allowed to start spring training early (the A’s elected not to) but they are still going to play two games that count well before they have in previous years. Last year their opening game came 35 days after the start of Cactus League games. This year it comes just 27 days after the start of spring games.
The Mariners have scheduled three intrasquad games and could add a fourth to help get not just the pitchers necessary work but also the hitters a chance to look at more live hitting. Generally these games are scheduled to get specific players an extra inning or at bat or to give a look to large groups of players who most likely won’t be seen much in Cactus League. This year it sounds like they will be treated more like actual Cactus League games and should be fun to watch.
The priority will be to get Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas ready. In the last two years they have brought Felix along slowly and kept his spring innings to a minimum. They won’t be able to do that this year. It will be different for him but he no doubt will be ready.
As for the others? They better hit the ground running. With 35 pitchers in camp there will be tons of competition and not as many games to make an impression before decisions need to be made. First item of interest today, and don’t read too much into it, but the stretch group on the very end of the field was comprised of Felix, Vargas, Hisashi Iwakuma, Hector Noesi and Blake Beavan. The final three should be happy they are in that group but not take anything for granted. There are plenty of competitors for the rotation.
One day down, 38 to go.