The Mariners took full advantage of the three-player taxi squad put in place of this 60-game season on Tuesday night.
With starting catcher Austin Nola being a late scratch from the lineup, the Mariners were able to make a pregame roster move to add catcher Joseph Odom from the taxi squad before the game instead of trying to play with just one catcher available.
There was also the additional benefit of Odom having caught lefty Justus Sheffield, Seattle’s starter for Tuesday’s series opener against the Angels, multiple times last season in the minor league. Manager Scott Servais decided to start Odom and have him make his MLB debut instead of using back-up catcher Joe Hudson.
Officially, Odom, 28, had his minor-league contract selected and he was added to the last vacant spot on the 40-man roster. To make room for Odom on the 30-man active roster, lefty Tyalor Guilbeau, who was called up from the alternate training site/taxi squad for the final game of the Astros series, was optioned back after making an appearance on Monday.
After not getting an invite to the original 60-man player pool for summer camp, Odom was added to the alternate training site and immediately placed on the taxi squad on July 23 when Tom Murphy went on the 10-day injured list with hairline fracture in his foot.
Odom is considered one of the best defensive catchers in the organization in terms of receiving and framing pitches and working with young pitchers. He split last season between Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Tacoma, posting a combined .235/.302/.339 slash line with 18 doubles, six home runs and 34 RBI. He was named a Texas League Mid-Season All-Star with the Travelers.
Guilbeau, 27, was recalled when reliever Brandon Brennan was put on the injured list. He pitched one inning, allowing a run on two hits with a walk.
The small confines of the visiting clubhouse at Angel Stadium has forced the Mariners to spread out to unexpected places to get ready for games.
“We’ve got some coaches that are dressing up in the fourth-level suites,” he said. “Players are spread around the clubhouse. They’ve moved all the video equipment and things like that to a different part of the ballpark to clear up some room. There’s no food in the clubhouse, so we have to go to the Diamond Club there to pick up anything.”
With the variations of stadiums and visiting clubhouses, it will be an adjustment for players and coaches, who are very routine oriented. The older stadiums like Angels Stadium, the Oakland Coliseum and Dodger Stadium have the smallest set-ups and present the most challenges. Players and staff will be forced to unique parts of the stadium that they’ve never seen before.
“Each ballclub and organization is trying to do the best they can with their facilities,” Servais said. “It’s a bit of an adjustment for everybody.”
As part of their effort to keep players in the bubble of the hotel and the stadium, the Mariners are in a different hotel in Anaheim. They previously stayed near Newport Beach. “Guys understand we’re really putting the lockdown on here, especially on the road,” he said. “The hotel we’re staying at really doesn’t have much around it. It’s pretty secluded and nobody needs to go anywhere or have any family or anybody come in and meet with them.
With the news of the 15 players and two coaches on the Marlins testing positive, Servais can point to the need for being vigilant despite any personal discomfort.
“We’re trying to deal with it the best we can,” Servais said. “These are the cards we’ve been dealt, and guys are doing OK with it.”