Seattle Mariners Spring Training Outlook
What happened to this supposed dismal offense we were expected to see in 2009? Right now, it looks like big bats are something the M’s are going to pack into their Spring Training luggage and take with them to Opening Day.
The best part about so many M’s players having a great spring is that it gives them options and lots of competition for the players to go up against. Another great thing, is that it’s the young players stepping up and showing they are worthy of a spot on the 25-man roster.
The Mariners have seven players hitting .300 or better (who have at least 15 at-bats) and four of those seven are hitting .400 or better. Chris Shelton’s slugging percentage is standing at 1.188 and has a .619 OBP%. Many baseball fans probably remember his start a few years back that rivaled Albert Pujols during the first 3 weeks, so don’t be surprised to see Shelton make the team. Franklin Gutierrez, the new center fielder for Seattle, is hitting .417 (10-for-24) and Matt Tuiasosopo is sitting at a pretty .400 (10-for-25). Gutierrez is a lock to make the team, and the once highly regarded Tuiasosopo is looking as if he may have made his breakthrough.
Wladimir Balentien, who arrived to Spring Training late because of visa problems, already has 2 HRs and is looking to keep his spot on the big league club that he had for much of last season.
As for pitching, the M’s have four pitchers who have not allowed an earned run this season. Randy Messenger (6 IP), Erik Bedard (4 2/3 IP), Tyler Walker (4 IP), and David Aardsma (4 IP). Some other impressive pitchers this spring have been Chris Jakubaskas and Denny Stark.
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The rotation battle remains up in the air. Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard are the only sure things at this point. Jarrod Washburn has been tagged for 13 hits in 7 1/3 innings, Ryan Rowland-Smith has an ERA of 9.00 and Carlos Silva was rocked before he left to pitch in the World Baseball Classic for his native Venezuela. Another guy the club was counting on was Brandon Morrow, but he has seen limited playing time after experiencing arm pain early in the spring.
Update: The Mariners signed Chad Cordero. The former NL all-star for the Washington Nationals is expected to contribute to the bullpen this year. So far all of the guys the M’s have brought in to fill the bullpen have pitched well. The M’s are counting on Cordero to fill a late-inning bullpen role, or maybe even take over as closer if he is effective early in the year. It is a minor league contract and the terms are undisclosed at this time.
By Dieter Veitenhans
Seattle Mariners Correspondent
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