So here’s some video of Alex Jackson’s home run from Friday’s game in Surprise. There were all kinds of internet issues at the stadium yesterday which prevented the normal highlights that the Mariners provide for road games to go up through the ninth inning. But the good people of the baseball information/media relations staff went and asked Jimmy Hartley, the team’s video coordinator, for his video of Jackson’s homer. They then passed it on to us. This doesn’t show where the ball ended up, which was about 400 feet from home plate. But it does show his swing and the power in it.
Manager Lloyd McClendon discussed the battle for the No. 5 spot in the rotation between Roenis Elias and Taijuan Walker this morning. He wasn’t giving any hints to the possible winner.
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“They’ve both thrown the ball pretty good,” McClendon said. “I’ve been very pleased.”
On the surface, it sure seems as though Walker has the spot locked up. He’s been dominant this spring. Elias has been good, but not as dominating as Walker.
Here’s their numbers this spring:
But McClendon said early on that he won’t simply go by spring training results. And he reminded us of that again.
“My evaluation is a little different than yours,” he said. “I don’t worry about numbers per se. Just like I don’t worry about wins in spring training. You like to play about .500 for the folks back at home. It’s the same thing with pitching and position players. I evaluate differently than you do.”
So what has seen in his evaluation?
“I’ve seen good and bad from both of them,” he said. “I think they’ve both made a lot of progress and a lot of things I’ve been very pleased. Taijuan is a lot like Elias. They both need to be consistent – particularly in the strike zone and continue to show poise and continue to be successful.”
If McClendon would have to make that decision today, would it be difficult?
“Sure,” he said.
What else is McClendon looking at?
“Spring training can be a little tough because of what lineups you are facing – all those things factor in,” McClendon said. “Success and failure can come in a lot of different forms. You have to be careful with that. And again, the dynamic as how they fit with the rest of the rotation. There’s a lot of factors that play in.”
He isn’t looking at the handedness of the pitcher. McClendon said fact that Elias is a lefty and Walker is a righty will have no bearing on the decision.
McClendon won’t take this decision till the last day of the spring.
“That’s not fair to make it the last day,” he said. “That’s not fair to anybody. I would say the last week of spring we got to have things pretty much narrowed down. We should be in a position to make those final decisions.”
That would likely mean one more start for Walker and Elias each. Here’s the probables going forward:
If you look, James Paxton is pitching in the start behind Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma is pitching on Monday in a sim game in Peoria with J.A. Happ following. That isn’t an accident. I mentioned this before, but don’t be surprised when the season starts that Paxton will be the No. 2 starter in the rotation and Iwakuma the No. 3 and Happ at the No. 4. It’s not because they think Iwakuma has taken a step back. But because they want to split up the left-handed starters.
Here’s the starting lineup