In addition to new catchers Chris Iannetta and Steve Clevenger, there will be 15 new Mariners pitchers at camp in Peoria, Ariz.
PEORIA, Ariz. — The first day isn’t really the first day.
The romance of the date that pitchers and catchers report to spring training often is celebrated as the start of spring training and the official beginning of baseball. For the Mariners, that much-awaited day is Friday at the team complex.
But reporting day is largely uneventful.
M’s key dates
Friday: Pitchers and catchers report.
Feb. 23: Full squad reports.
March 2: Annual charity game vs. Padres, 12:10 p.m.
April 4: Regular-season opener at Rangers, 1:05 p.m.
April 8: Home opener vs. A’s, 7:10 p.m.
Really, it’s just a day for extensive physicals, fitness tests, unpacking of equipment, catching up with old teammates and meeting new ones. Sure, a few players might don uniforms or workout clothes and play some catch or do some running. But most will head home and rest up for their first official workout that begins Saturday morning.
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Although several pitchers and catchers arrived early and have been working out for the past four or five days, there still should be plenty of introductions Friday.
New general manager Jerry Dipoto has brought in two new catchers — Chris Iannetta and Steve Clevenger — to serve as the starter and backup this season. Both men will begin the long process of building relationships with their pitchers to understand their strengths and weaknesses in preparation for calling games.
The Mariners will have six healthy catchers in camp, because Jesus Sucre is recovering from surgery to repair a broken leg suffered during winter ball. Mike Zunino and Steven Baron are on the 40-man roster, and veteran minor-league signee Steve Lerud and prospect Marcus Littlewood have been invited to camp.
Barring last-minute additions, there will be 28 pitchers in camp — 20 on the roster and eight non-roster invitees.
Of the group, only 13 were in the organization at the end of last season.
The starting rotation is largely decided with Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and newcomer Wade Miley all slotted into positions. Coming off a strong finish to 2015, Taijuan Walker is expected to fill out the fourth spot. That leaves a handful of pitchers — left-handers James Paxton and Mike Montgomery and right-handers Nathan Karns and Joe Wieland — to vie for the fifth spot. The competition likely will come down to Paxton, who shed more than 20 pounds in the offseason, and Karns.
Dipoto brought in a slew of new relievers in hopes of overhauling the bullpen after its abysmal showing in 2015. Free-agent signee and former Marlins closer Steve Cishek is projected as the closer, with veteran right-hander Joaquin Benoit as the eighth-inning setup man. Charlie Furbush is expected to be the late-inning left-handed specialist. He suffered a partially torn rotator cuff in July and missed the rest of the season. Furbush will throw off a mound for the first time in Arizona since being shut down.
The rest of the bullpen — three right-handers and a second left-hander — will come from the remaining fray. Hard-throwing youngster Tony Zych is a strong candidate, and Evan Scribner, Justin De Fratus, Cody Martin, Ryan Cook and non-roster invitee Joel Peralta will push for spots.
M’s spring roster
• Pitchers: RH Jonathan Aro, RH Joaquin Benoit, RH Steve Cishek, RH Ryan Cook, RH Justin De Fratus, LH Charlie Furbush, RH Mayckol Guaipe, RH Felix Hernandez, RH Hisashi Iwakuma, RH Nathan Karns, RH Cody Martin, LH Wade Miley, LH Mike Montgomery, LH Vidal Nuno, LH James Paxton, LH David Rollins, RH Evan Scribner, RH Taijuan Walker, RH Joe Wieland, RH Tony Zych.
• Catchers: Steven Baron, Steve Clevenger, Chris Iannetta, Jesus Sucre, Mike Zunino.
• Infielders: 2B Robinson Cano, 1B Adam Lind, SS Ketel Marte, 1B/DH Jesus Montero, IF/OF Shawn O’Malley, IF Luis Sardinas, 3B Kyle Seager, IF Chris Taylor.
• Outfielders: LF Nori Aoki, RF/DH Nelson Cruz, LF/RF Franklin Gutierrez, CF Leonys Martin, CF Boog Powell, RF/LF Stefen Romero, RF/LF Seth Smith.
• Pitchers: RH Casey Coleman, LH Paul Fry, LH Danny Hultzen, LH Brad Mills, RH Blake Parker, RH Joel Peralta, RH Donn Roach, RH Adrian Sampson.
• Catchers: Marcus Littlewood, Steve Lerud.
• Infielders: IF Benji Gonzalez, 1B/DH Dae-Ho Lee, IF Ed Lucas, 1B/DH Gaby Sanchez, SS/2B Tyler Smith.
• Outfielders: RF/LF Mike Baxter, OF Dan Roberts, RF/LF Dario Pizzano.
Vidal Nuno, David Rollins, Danny Hultzen, Paul Fry and possibly Montgomery could fill that second left-hander spot. Hultzen, a former No. 2 overall draft pick, is being converted to a reliever after issues in his surgically repaired shoulder halted his season prematurely in 2015.
A new coaching staff this spring with different expectations and philosophies will meet the players Friday. Besides manager Scott Servais, the Mariners have a new pitching coach in Mel Stottlemyre Jr. and a new bullpen coach in Mike Hampton.