Mariners notebook: Murphy helping Sheffield get the most out of his fastball

Feb 17, 2020, 1:34 PM
Mariners LHP Justus Sheffield...
Mariners LHP Justus Sheffield is looking to add more sink to his fastball. (AP)

Mariners pitching prospect Logan Gilbert threw his second bullpen of spring training Monday morning in Peoria, and while that was the attention-getter heading into the session, catcher Tom Murphy working with left-hander Justus Sheffield ended up drawing a bit more interest for some.

Previous Mariners notebook: Prospects Gilbert and Kelenic impress early

Murphy, who this time last year was in Rockies camp, has fully embraced the No. 1 role behind the plate. He is well studied on all of his pitchers and not shy about giving feedback, be it encouragements or suggesting adjustments. Sheffield was the beneficiary of the extra help Monday, something he was happy to have.

“I’m sure a lot of people out there could hear Murph screaming,” Sheffield said with a smile. “I love that guy back there because he keeps me locked in even in bullpens.”

Sheffield was working mostly on his fastball, a pitch that Mariners catchers learned last year necessitates them being ready to move behind the plate.

“It can move a lot, it can have a ton of run and be tough on catchers,” Sheffield said.

In addition to the run on the pitch, Sheffield is working to add more sink. Murphy encouraged him to throw it to both sides of the plate Monday, attempting to show him how it would look to the hitters.

“My fastball can change, it can go from sinking, it can have some ride,” Sheffield said. “I am really working on being one complete fastball pitcher, just having one fastball. Right now it feels good.”

As for the rest of his pitches, Sheffield has worked on his changeup this offseason, a pitch he will need if he is to ultimately remain a starter.

“I’m more excited about that (changeup) than my slider,” he said. “I always know I have my slider in my back pocket. It’s been really cool to see it play out there and I am ready to see some hitters.”

Mariners’ Graveman getting ‘back on the map’

New Mariners pitcher Kendall Graveman, who has thrown all of six innings since Tommy John surgery ended his 2018 season, threw his second bullpen of the spring and all went well. Manager Scott Servais has liked what he has seen both on and off the field from the former Oakland Athletics starter.

“He’s really determined to get back on the map,” Servais said. “He’s been a great fit for us so far in the clubhouse, in our culture. He’s not afraid to speak up, he does have a little experience. He’s coming from a different place. Sometimes the new the fresh voice, people will listen to that. It is a big year for him. I’ve been really impressed with what we have seen from him, we just have to keep him healthy.”


• Position players were due to report Monday afternoon for physicals. Carlos González arrived in camp and is expected to be signed once he passes his physical. Most position players have been seen in camp the past few days with the exceptions of José Marmolejos, Alen Hanson and Dee Gordon, who is expected to be a late arrival as he is awaiting the birth of his first child.

• The full Mariners team is expected to take the field for its first full squad workout at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

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