The Mariners have turned to Mike Montgomery to transition from starting to relieving. He’s projected to join Vidal Nuno as the second left-hander in the bullpen.
PEORIA, Ariz. — It’s a little early into his conversion as a reliever so Mike Montgomery hasn’t given much thought to his entrance music yet. There are more important things to figure out, like actually how to survive and flourish in a role that’s significantly different than what he’s done for his career.
With Charlie Furbush and his slow-healing shoulder looking less and less like a possibility for the opening-day roster, the Mariners have turned to Montgomery to transition from starting to relieving. He’s projected to join Vidal Nuno as the second left-hander in the bullpen.
Though he’s said often that he believes he’s a starting pitcher, it wasn’t hard to sell Montgomery on the move to the bullpen with Furbush ailing. It almost guarantees him a spot on the opening-day roster.
Indians 3, Mariners 1
At Peoria Stadium, Mariners starter Wade Miley surrendered all three of the Indians’ runs. They came off the bat of one player — third baseman Jose Ramirez, who hit a solo homer in the first inning and a two-run homer in the third inning. Miley worked five innings, giving up the three runs on four hits with a walk and three strikeouts. He threw 59 pitches with 38 strikes in the game and some additional pitches in the bullpen after he was done.
“I really didn’t have a good fastball today location-wise,” he said. “I couldn’t get it where I wanted it. But I was able to mix in some breaking balls and it kind of opened up the heater a little bit to where I didn’t have to be so fine.”
Daniel Robertson drove in the Mariners’ only run of the game, plating Dae-Ho Lee with a sharp ground-ball single into right field. Otherwise Seattle hitters mustered five hits with two walks while striking out six times.
Mariners relievers — Steve Cishek, Mayckol Guaipe and Casey Coleman — combined to throw five shutout innings without allowing a hit, with a walk and a strikeout.
Player of the game
After a few shaky outings early in the spring, Guaipe has looked strong. The young right-hander pitched two perfect innings, getting five ground-ball outs and striking out a batter. He’s allowed just one run in his past five appearances.
“The last few have been very, very good,” manager Scott Servais said. “He’s been working on some things with Mel (Stottlemyre). He’s got a good sinker and he’s pounding it into the ground.”
“We are scuffling right now. We’ve got a few guys that are running on fumes right now.” — Servais
Hisashi Iwakuma, who was almost a Dodger this season, will start Monday at Camelback Ranch. The Dodgers signed a younger Japanese free agent — Kenta Maeda — who will be making the start for them. ESPN 710 radio only.
“I want to be in the big leagues and help this team win,” he said. “So whatever that role is, whether it’s starting or relieving, I’m open to it. I know I can be a good starter in this league, but at the same time, the way it is right now — they want me in the bullpen. So I’m all on board with that. And I’ll give them everything I’ve got from the bullpen.”
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Had he remained a starter, Montgomery was destined to be designated for assignment since he’s out of minor-league options and wasn’t going to crack the starting rotation. The Mariners believed they would lose him on a waivers claim when he was designated. This is a way for them to hold on to Montgomery while getting a high-level lefty in the bullpen until Furbush is ready.
Montgomery has made two one-inning relief appearances, giving up one run on two hits. He’s impressed manager Scott Servais in the small sample of outings.
“I think the stuff was up a little bit,” Servais said. “The velocity was 92-94 mph. There is down-angle to it. I think the presence of coming in left-handed — here it is go after it. Just let it eat and really attack vs. as a starter where you are pacing yourself and making sure you get all your pitches in there. Just getting after it. I liked his demeanor. He was very aggressive.”
Montgomery is trying to embrace that different mindset with being a reliever.
“Get up, get going, you are running in and you are pitching,” he said. “There are not three or four days of preparation. It’s right away. That’s the biggest thing that is different — just go in there and attack. You don’t set people up. You don’t waste pitches. You just give them the best stuff you have that day. It could be changeup one day, fastball the next or the curveball on another.”
The Mariners trimmed their spring training roster to 40 players, cutting five from the big-league camp.
Right-handed pitcher Jonathan Aro, left-handed pitcher David Rollins and catcher Steven Baron were optioned to Class AAA Tacoma. Meanwhile, right-handed pitcher Adrian Sampson and infielder Ed Lucas, who are not on the 40-man roster, were reassigned to minor-league camp.
Sampson, a graduate of Skyline High School, made four appearances, throwing a total of 10 innings and allowing five earned runs with eight strikeouts and no walks.
“He’s had a very good camp,” Servais said. “He really jumped up the depth chart in what he brings to the table. His stuff ticked up pitching out of the bullpen, but he’ll probably go into our rotation in Tacoma and continue to work on his changeup. He could be a bullpen piece down the road. The velocity was more than what I expected from him. And the breaking ball at times showed very well.”