Update 12:30 –– the Mariners made a lineup change and Jabari Henry replaces Alex Jackson in the starting lineup. Jackson was already replacing Seth Smith. No reason was given for the switch.
As expected, the Mariners made cuts from Major League camp on Sunday. There were no real surprises. But the most notable move was optioning left-hander Roenis Elias to Class AAA Tacoma.
The young left-hander lost the battle with Taijuan Walker for the final spot in the starting rotation despite a solid rookie season where he posted a 10-12 record with a 3.85 ERA in 29 starts.
This spring, Elias has been up and down, posting a 0-2 record with a 6.75 ERA in five starts.
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“He hasn’t pitched well this camp,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He needs to go down and get his innings and get consistent. Listen, I’m a big Elias fan. I think everyone knows that. I pushed hard for him to be on this club last year. But he’s got to get better. He’s got to improve and command of the strike zone is one of them, particularly with the fastball. I think we all would agree that for us to think we are going to go through this season with just five starters is just not going to happen. At some point, he has to be prepared to come back and help this club. But at the same time, he has to be pitching well so he can come back and help us. It was tough, but it’s a decision that we all thought was best for him and best for the organization at this particular time.”
Technically, the Mariners’ rotation isn’t completely finalized with Erasmo Ramirez still in camp. But since he isn’t pitching in the regular rotation and the inconsistency he’s shown, it’s safe to say he’s not making the rotation.
Here’s the pitching probables going forward:
Here’s the official roster moves:
Optioned to Class AAA Tacoma
LHP — Roenis Elias
RHP — Carson Smith
Re-assigned to minor league camp
RHPs — Mark Lowe, Jordan Pries and Kevin Correia
LHP — Joe Saunders
Infielder — Shawn O’Malley, Carlos Rivero
Outfielder — Endy Chavez
The removal of five relievers from camp has narrowed the group of pitchers vying for the bullpen considerably. Basically, if you believe that the pitchers, who were in the bullpen for the bulk of last season – Fernando Rodney, Tom Wilhelmsen, Danny Farquhar, Dom Leone, Charlie Furbush, Yoervis Medina – have likely locked up spots, then that leaves Olson as the last member of the bullpen.
McClendon was basically deciding between keeping Smith and Olson and he went with the extra lefty.
Technically, Erasmo Ramirez is still in camp and he could be an option for that spot. But at this point, keeping him in the bullpen simply because he’s out of options would be foolish. He does provide organizational depth and several scouts think he may have some ability as a one-inning guy in the bullpen. But Olson better fits the role and the desire of having two lefties in the bullpen. The Mariners already have an open spot on the 40-man with David Rollins being suspended and Ramirez will open up another spot giving the team flexibility for waiver claims.
Olson has been outstanding this spring.
*** Outfielder Seth Smith was scratched from the lineup this moring with a swollen right ankle. Smith rolled the ankle sliding into home in yesterday’s game as he scored from first on Robinson Cano’s double to left. McClendon said the decision was more precautionary.
“Seventh game of the World Series, he’d be in there,” McClendon said.
*** Brad Miller is still recovering from a cold/flu bug that kept him out he past two days. But he will likely be in there this week.
“He’s feeling a lot better,” McClendon said. “His eyes are back in his head so to speak. It’s just smart to give him another day to recuperate.”
*** Austin Jackson and Nelson Cruz are getting days off to “freshen up.”
*** Chris Taylor is recovering well from the fracture triquetrum bone in his wrist. He began throwing on Saturday. He will take “dry swings in a pool” today, per McClendon. Yes, dry swings in a pool. Dry swings means not hitting a ball.
“His hand strength is coming back,” McClendon said. “It’s not quite there yet.”
*** McClendon said he plans to play his regular lineup consistently this week.
“We are going to run this last week like we’d run a regular game,” he said. “I’m very pleased with the at-bats they’ve all accumulated. If all goes well, all of them will leave here with 50-60 at-bats, which is what I’d like to target. I’m pleased from that perspective.”
*** McClendon was obviously shaken about the news of the passing of prospect Victor Sanchez.
“It was a sad day for this organization,” he said. “He was a young man with a bright future. You think about his family and it’s tough. It’s tough to fathom as a father to think that a father and mother has to bury their child. It’s really tough. Tough day. ”