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Mariners notebook: Justin Dunn getting his chance to show if he’s ready

Justin Dunn made four appearances for the Mariners last September. (Getty)

The Mariners hit the road for a second straight day, traveling to Goodyear, Ariz., to take on the Reds on Wednesday afternoon. We will get our first look at Justin Dunn, who is looking to find his way into the Mariners rotation. It’s not an easy fit to start the season as all five spots appear to be filled.

M’s Preview: Lydia Cruz breaks down every player in projected lineup

It’s time to see what Justus Sheffield can do at the big league level. Kendall Graveman and Taijuan Walker are coming off Tommy John surgeries but are expected to be ready for the start of the season. And with Marco Gonzales and Yusei Kikuchi returning, no spots are currently open, but Dunn no doubt would like to force the issue. While he did get four starts last September for the Mariners, there is more the team would like to see from him before he is given a spot in the rotation.

“He had a couple of mechanical adjustments to make,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “When I saw him in January I thought it looked a little bit better; it looks way better now. Just trying to be more consistent on line, he’s kind of always fighting mechanically to get the ball to the glove side consistently. So far it’s looked pretty good this spring. I like where he’s at right now, the ball’s coming out really good he’s got a lot of confidence, he’s carrying himself really well around here. I’m curious to see what it looks like today.”

As Servais noted, Dunn has checked off all of the boxes off the field. He’s displayed the same confidence and presence we saw from him when he was in Double-A – both in Seattle last September and in the big league clubhouse this spring. He learned that things are a little different in a major league game in a big league stadium, and hopefully the first game jitters and challenges he faced managing his adrenaline last September are behind him.

Now it is a matter of answering the final questions on the field and getting him to a good place to start his big league career.

Lineup!

Jake Fraley, CF
Austin Nola, C
Carlos Gonzalez, RF
Daniel Vogelbach, DH
Evan White, 1B
Patrick Wisdom, 3B
Julio Rodriguez, LF
Dee Gordon, 2B
Patrick Haggerty, SS

Justin Dunn, RHP

Julio Rodriguez and Dee Gordon are making their first starts of the spring. For Gordon, it will be his first appearance in a spring game after getting a late start in camp due to the birth of his first child.

Also scheduled to pitch today: Yoshihisa Hirano, Brandon Brennan, Dan Altavilla, Art Warren, Wei-Yin Chen and Taylor Guilbeau.

Mariners team building

Scott Servais is once again holding morning team meetings that are centered around team building. Players are interviewed (Rodriguez was on the schedule Wednesday), outings are organized, reports back from the outings are given, and guests are brought in.

On Monday, reliever Art Warren was assigned to run the meeting as that was something he took upon himself to do when he was in Double-A last year. The report back on Warren’s meeting was spectacular. Not only did he run the meeting but he ran it as Servais, and those who were there said he was spot-on. Servais concurred.

“I was laughing so hard I was crying,” Servais said. “You have no idea how other people perceive you. He had all of the mannerisms down, the speech patterns, some of the lines I typically use.”

From the glasses to the papers on the clipboard to running in a couple of minutes late because of a meeting, Warren reportedly nailed his skipper. He also managed to hit him in the pocketbook as Servais has done with others in the past like with the pool table he told Tony Zych to get for the clubhouse several springs ago. With Blake Shelton coming to town, Warren thought it would be a good idea for a group to go and told Scott he could provide the tickets. Of course that wasn’t all. He wanted the group to look good so some cowboy boots would need to be thrown in too.

“Through the years I have handed out those to veteran players (Robinson Canó ended up paying for the pool table) who were certainly capable of paying the bill,” he said before pausing for a beat and then laughing. “A lot of those vet players aren’t here anymore. It got flipped on me, yes.”

Impressive work, Art.

Roster watch

If you are looking for roster cuts, it will probably be a while. With the minor league reporting day not until March 9 and first workout March 10, there is really nowhere to send the players. This will keep the camp very large for longer and will probably require the scheduling of extra B games to get the pitchers the work that they need.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Shannon Drayer on Twitter.

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