Mariners’ closer says he has no plans to speed up routine just because a new clock is added timing relievers entering from the bullpen.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Fernando Rodney meandered in from the bullpen of Goodyear Ballpark on his way to the pitcher’s mound of Sunday’s Cactus League game.
His gait was something faster than a saunter but slower than a jog. Rodney was oblivious to an illuminated ticking clock counting down from 2 minutes and 20 seconds behind him.
The timer is part of baseball’s new plan to speed up games. And this particular clock measures the time in between innings and also the time it takes a relief pitcher to come in from the bullpen and get ready with his warm-up pitches. It seems like a good premise to some.
Reds 10, Mariners 1
At Goodyear Ballpark
Notable: The Mariners mustered just five hits in the game with no player notching multiple hits. The lone run came on Austin Jackson’s hard double to right-center, scoring James Jones. … Starter J.A. Happ gave up two hits, including a two-run homer in his first spring training outing. Fernando Rodney also made his spring-training debut, throwing one scoreless inning with a walk. … A day after striking out four times in one game, Patrick Kivlehan got one at-bat in the ninth inning. He made the most of it, doubling down the left-field line. … Kyle Seager showed why he won the American League Gold Glove with a brilliant diving backhanded stop on a rocket by Jason Bourgeois down the third-base line. Seager jumped up and fired to first to get Bourgeois by a step. … Joe Saunders struggled for a second straight outing, giving up six runs on five hits, including a two-run homer.
Player of the game: Jackson’s importance to the Mariners’ lineup has been mentioned often. He could be the catalyst for this team’s success. The hard double on Sunday for the M’s only run was his second hit in as many games. On Saturday, he went with an outside pitch and laced a sharp single to right field. He’s showing progress from his struggles last season.
Quotable: “It’s spring training. We had a few good things and a lot of bad things. That’s to be expected. That’s why we are here. That’s why we are working on things. “ — manager Lloyd McClendon
On tap: Right-hander Taijuan Walker will make his second start of the season for the Mariners on Monday against the Cleveland Indians at Peoria Stadium. Right-hander Carlos Carrasco will start for Cleveland. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. The game will be televised on Root Sports and MLB.tv and broadcast on ESPN 710.
But Rodney views the new rules with as much indifference as he does to someone telling him to straighten out his ball cap.
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“Honestly, and I’m going to tell you this: I’m not gonna change my routine because they put a clock in,” he said. “If they want to fine me or whatever, just do it. I’m not going to change. I’m going to try to be on my normal time because that’s baseball. When you play any sport, you can’t have a clock saying, hey let’s hurry up.”
Rodney showed no urgency in this outing. He made it to the mound, took his warm-ups and then worked a scoreless inning, issuing a two-out walk.
“I think I feel good,” he said. “I’m just trying to work out and get ready for opening day. That’s my thinking right now, get ready for opening day, don’t try to think about what happened today.”
Rodney battled muscle stiffness in his shoulder when he arrived last spring. This spring, he’s working ahead of schedule and feels healthy.
“This year I came ready to go,” he said.
He feels even stronger after not throwing in the Dominican Republic winter league in the offseason.
“I feel like I’m more fresh and can be more consistent, maybe with the same velocity as a couple years ago,” he said. “Maybe you’ll see that.”
What you won’t see is Rodney sprinting in from the bullpen because of a running clock.
“Sometime you come into the game with just one run (lead),” he said. “What happens if you need to relax and do more breathing, you are going to get fined. I’m going to do the normal routine for me.”
Rodney and “normal” aren’t often used in the same sentence. But his normal routine produced an All-Star Game appearance and a league-high 48 saves last season. The Mariners would gladly take that again.
And no rule is going to change him.
“I don’t know what they are thinking,” he said. “I don’t think it’s good for any sport. They can try. But it’s baseball.”
Felix Hernandez bumped his first start of the spring up to Tuesday instead of Wednesday for a simple reason — he didn’t want to have to come in and pitch a minor-league game on the Mariners’ first off day of the spring March 16. Manager Lloyd McClendon was receptive to the request.
“Whatever the King wants,” McClendon joked. “To be honest, I didn’t want to be here on my off day either.”
Roenis Elias will also pitch Tuesday, piggybacking off Hernandez’s two innings of work to keep him from having to pitch on the off day.
“I don’t want have to watch him on the off day, either,” McClendon said chuckling. “I want to enjoy my off day, too.”
As for Hernandez’s first start of the regular season — he confirmed that it will be on opening day as everyone expected and assumed.
“You guys got somebody better?” McClendon said. “I’d say there is a really good chance — like a 99.9999 percent chance he’ll be starting opening day. Hell, they would run me out of town if he’s not starting opening day. Talk about getting second-guessed. You guys would be all over me.”
Cano leaves camp
Robinson Cano left Mariners camp and flew home to the Dominican Republic on Sunday because of personal reasons.
Cano’s grandfather, Ovidio, passed away on Saturday. Cano posted some pictures of him with his grandfather on his Instagram account. There is no timetable for Cano’s return.
• Franklin Gutierrez was lifted from Saturday’s game against the White Sox after feeling tightness in his right groin. He was in the midst of his second straight day of playing in games. After getting checked by the medical staff, it’s not a major concern. Gutierrez will take a few days off and then return to action. He was in the clubhouse early Sunday stretching.
“They’re still evaluating this morning, but the initial diagnosis wasn’t as bad as he thought it was,” McClendon said. “That’s to be expected. He’s been off almost two years. This is a grind down here.”
Gutierrez sat out all of last season to deal with the diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis. The pain in the pelvic and groin area is a common symptom when the arthritic condition flares up.
• Danny Hultzen is tentatively scheduled to pitch in his first Cactus League game on Wednesday against the Rockies at Peoria Stadium. Hultzen will throw one inning of relief.
• James Paxton threw a 40-pitch bullpen session and used all of his off-speed pitches. “Everything feels great,” he said. Paxton will throw a live batting practice session before making his first Cactus League start on March 17.
• Tom Wilhelmsen threw a live batting practice session. He has yet to pitch in a Cactus League game this spring.