The Mariners will be playing a pair of split squad games on Saturday with Taijuan Walker and Felix Hernandez each making starts. Manager Scott Servais also offered some more thoughts on the competition for the No. 5 spot in the rotation.

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It’s going to be a full day of baseball with the Mariners separated into split squads and playing an afternoon game against the World Champion Royals (also a split squad) in Surprise at 1:10 p.m. and an evening game back at Peoria Stadium at 7:10 p.m. against the Arizona Diamondbacks. A reminder that the night game will be televised on Root Sports and broadcast on ESPN 710. There will be no television or radio for the first game.

Lineups vs. the Royals …

 

Lineup vs. the Diamondbacks

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From an health standpoint, Seth Smith and Adam Lind are back in the starting lineup. Smith missed the last three games with tightness in his groin.

“Seth has been feeling fine,” manager Scott Servais said. “We just gave him an extra day. He probably could have played yesterday.”

Lind, who missed three games with the flu, was supposed to start on Friday against the Rangers, but was a late scratch after not feeling well during batting practice.

“Lind just didn’t feel good yesterday,” Servais said. “He had the hangover from the flu bug. He’ll sleep in today and come in for the night game tonight.”

*** Stefen Romero could play as a reserve in one of the games. Romero was scratched before Thursday’s game with cramps in his upper back. He participated in a light workout on Friday and will try to prepare to play today.

“He’ll probably hit off the tee and in the cage a little bit first and then we’ll go from there,” Servais said.

*** Charlie Furbush will play long toss and throw a flatground session today and Sunday. If all goes well, he would throw a bullpen session on Monday or Tuesday. Servais admitted that they may be running out of time to have Furbush ready for opening day.

“There’s a chance,” Servais said. “But I don’t want to hamstring the rest of our bullpen. Charlie would have to be in a spot where we feel good bringing him in back-to-back. We do have some off days early which does benefit us, so I would not totally, 100 percent rule it out. But some thing are going to have to continue to progress the way they are.”

Rotation update

The competition for the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation has not been determined and it might not be until the days leading up to the end of spring training. James Paxton struggled in his start on Thursday against the A’s, while Nathan Karns had better numbers against the Rangers on Friday.

Looking past the peripheral numbers a little, Karns’ start wasn’t significantly better. Throwing 81 pitches and only 41 strikes in 4 2/3 innings is less than ideal, which Servais noted.

For three innings, Karns struggled with his fastball command and managed to get out of jams – something Paxton couldn’t do on Thursday. Karns did get a little help from James Jones. The one-time Mariners minor leaguer drew a leadoff walk on five pitches — something that he didn’t do much with Seattle — to start the game. But Jones managed to get picked off after Karns threw over repeatedly – awful baserunning mistake. The second Jones’ mistake came when Karns walked the No. 8 and 9 hitters to start the third inning. Jones hit a ground ball to shortstop, which the Mariners turned into a 6-4-3 double play. The ball wasn’t hit that hard, but Jones didn’t run that hard, allowing Seattle to get the double play.

Paxton also faced what essentially was the A’s every day lineup with perhaps one player missing. Karns faced a Rangers split squad with only Ian Desmond, Prince Field, Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus in the lineup.

Those things don’t go unnoticed by the Mariners’ staff.

Asked about the competition, Servais wouldn’t say if a lead had been taken by Karns.

“I still think it’s relatively close,” Servais said. “Karns’ last couple innings were intriguing. He kind of found his release point and got it going – getting the ball down and the breaking ball came along. It’s close. It’s still a competition. I know they feel it, which for me is a good thing. Competition usually brings out the best in people. And if I’m not mistaken, it gets really competitive on April 4 as well, so you need to be able to handle that stuff.”

Both pitchers are projected to make two more starts each before end the of spring training. It seems unlikely, but the Mariners may wait until then to make their decision.

Obviously, Servais, general manager Jerry Dipoto and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre aren’t going to make their decisions based on that one outing.

“They’ll let us know is the best way to play it,” Servais said. “Mel may see one thing. I see something. Jerry Dipoto sees something else. We just had meetings kind of going over it and listening to each other’s opinions on that scenario along with some others. I don’t have a problem riding it out right till the end.”

Game reserves and relief pitchers

Pitchers:

  • 39 Casey Coleman ……………………… RHP
  • 47 Joe Wieland …………………………… RHP
  • 89 Ronald Dominguez*………………… RHP
  • 91 Ryan Horstman* ……………………… LHP
  • 92 Emilio Pagan* ………………………… RHP

 

Infielders:

  • 36 Shawn O’Malley (S) ………………….. INF
  • 80 Gianfranco Wawoe (S)*…………….. INF
  • 81 Rayder Ascanio (S)* …………………. INF
  • 82 Tim Lopes* ……………………………… INF
  • 83 DJ Peterson* …………………………… INF
  • 94 Luis Caballero* ………………………… INF
  • 96 Dayner Moreia*………………………… INF

Outfielders:

  • 73 Dario Pizzano* ………………………….. OF
  • 84 Tyler O’Neill*…………………………….. OF
  • 86 Braden Bishop*…………………………. OF
  • 90 Arby Fields (S)* ………………………… OF
  • 95 Austin Wilson* ………………………….. OF

 

Catchers:

  • 52 Steve Lerud (L)* …………………………. C
  • 88 Arturo Nieto* ………………………………. C
  • 85 Wayne Taylor (L)*……………………….. C

* = from Minor League camp

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