It the corner of his office in the Mariners’ spring training complex, manager Lloyd McClendon has a white board with an array of rectangular magnets featuring the name of every player that are in major league camp. They are ordered by position and in depth chart style.
As the weeks of spring training have passed, the number of those magnetic names have slowly dwindled with players being cut from camp.
On Wednesday, it featured just 25 names.
So when manager Lloyd McClendon asked about his starting rotation, he replied, “write what you see,” while pointing to the board.
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On the board there were five names under starting pitching – Felix Hernandez, James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma, J.A. Happ and Taijuan Walker.
Did Walker pitch his way onto the club?
“Sure he did,” McClendon said.
Beyond Walker’s results, which were brilliant – a 3-0 record and 0.36 ERA in 25 innings pitched, was his focus and preparation.
“I saw all of those things on a consistent basis,” McClendon said. “I didn’t just start seeing it in spring training. I saw it in September.”
McClendon was asked if left-hander Tyler Olson had made the team.
His response with another chuckle: “Take a look at the board.”
And in the group of seven relievers, there was a white magnet with the name “Tyler Olson” at the bottom of list of blue magnets of Fernando Rodney, Danny Farquhar, Tom Wilhelmsen, Charlie Furbush, Dominic Leone an Yoervis Medina. Why was Olson’s magnet white? Well, it designates that he’s not on the 40-man roster.
It’s a reason why the Mariners haven’t officially announced he’s made the team. Olson must be added to the roster. While that is a given, they will likely will till Saturday afternoon to be safe. If Olson were to be added to the active roster and then suffer some fluke injury in the next few days, he would have to go on the major league disabled list and collect a big league salary and accrue service time. It’s just a procedural move more than anything.
“Nothing’s official,” Olson said. “But I think I’ve put myself in a good position and going out there and showing that I can compete and be put in situations and get out of them. Just show them that I can go out there and fight and battle. I just tried to work every day stay humble. Obviously, not get too big of a head when I had a decent outing. Just go out there and repeat and do the same things I’ve always done.”
What has McClendon liked about Olson?
“He’s showed a lot of poise, the ability to get left-handers and right-handers out, holds runners, works fast, throws strikes, fields his position,” McClendon said. “He’s done a great job. I’ve said every year I’m looking for surprises and he’s the surprise. Obviously, we haven’t broke camp yet and he’s a non-roster guy, but he’s done a nice job.”
Obviously, this isn’t surprising news. Walker was so outstanding this spring that it became clear a few weeks ago that he would win the final spot in the rotation over Roenis Elias and Erasmo Ramirez. With the suspension of Rollins and Carson Smith being optioned to Tacoma, it seemed as though the final spot in the bullpen had gone to Olson. The only hold-up was the presence of Ramirez in big league camp. The odds were slim that the Mariners would somehow keep Ramirez, who was out of minor league options, on the 25-man roster as the reliever, but it was possible.
That speculation ended late last night when the traded Ramirez to the Rays for lefty Mike Montgomery. Considering they had little leverage and Ramirez’s inconsistency this spring, that the Mariners were able to get a left-handed pitcher with some talent that as a minor league option was a bit of a coup.
So here’s the unofficial 25-man roster
Starting pitchers: Felix Hernandez, James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma, J.A. Happ, Taijuan Walker
Relief pitchers: Fernando Rodney, Danny Farquhar, Tom Wilhelmsen, Yoervis Medina, Charlie Furbush, Dominic Leone, Tyler Olson
Catchers: Mike Zunino, Jesus Sucre
Infielders: Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, Brad Miller, Logan Morrison, Willie Bloomquist
Outfielders: Nelson Cruz, Austin Jackson, Dustin Ackley, Justin Ruggiano, Seth Smith, Rickie Weeks.
Speaking of rosters, my buddy Jerry Brewer has this column on the Mariners’ roster being set up for them to have better success against left-handed pitching.
Seth Smith is back in the starting lineup today after missing a few games with a swollen right ankle.
Paxton will make a full start today probably close to 85 pitches. But Iwakuma (minor league game on Thursday), Happ (Friday) and Walker (Saturday) will make abbreviated starts to stay fresh in their final outings.
If the rotation stays the way it has been set this spring, each pitcher will have six days of rest going into their first start of the season. That wasn’t by accident.
Rickie Weeks may get another start this spring at first base. McClendon thought Weeks handled himself fine at first base.
The gambling site Bovada has released it’s latest updated odds for MLB. The Mariners are now 12-1 favorites to win the World Series.
Here’s the odds to win the AL
Here’s the odds to win the AL West
SportsRadio KJR is down in Peoria. They’ve been quite busy.
Here’s a link to the podcasts from the Softy Mahler show that include Lloyd McClendon, Robinson Cano, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton
Here’s a link to the podcasts from Ian Furness and Jason Puckett than include Brad Miller, Danny Farquhar and Mike Zunino. But this Fernando Rodney interview is pretty amusing as well. He gives a history of the arrow celebration.
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For people who like to go to Rainiers games at Cheney Stadium, this is some big news …. The Red Hot will have a concessions place there. The restaurant which specializes in sausages and craft beer is right by where I live. I’m a frequent diner there.