The Mariners' bullpen is far from a finished product. The team released right-hander Justin De Fratus, an expected contributor, on Wednesday morning.

Share story

Scratch another name off the group of right-handed relievers vying for a spot in the Mariners reworked bullpen.

The Mariners made a major roster move on Wednesday morning, releasing right-handed reliever Justin De Fratus.

The move was surprising because De Fratus seemed penciled into one of the Mariners’ middle relief spots since being signed as a free agent in the offseason on a one-year, $750,000 contract. General manager Jerry Dipoto signed De Fratus, hoping he would return to his 2014 form after less-than-stellar 2015 season.


But there was little sign of the 2014 De Fratus this spring.  In four appearances, he pitched a total of six innings, allowing six hits with three earned runs, three walks, four strikeouts, a hit batter and a wild pitch. The  numbers aren’t awful, but De Fratus’ numbers probably should have been worse considering the number of runners he had on base in each outing. He never worked an inning without allowing a baserunner.

Even more telling was that his velocity was down to 89-91 mph with his fastball. The Mariners hoped he would be back in the 93-94 mph area this season. But it didn’t seem to be improving.

“It hasn’t been maybe as sharp and as much power that he showed last year,” Servais said after Tuesday’s game in Tempe where De Fratus allowed a run on three hits with a walk. “Again, it’s spring training and I know he dealt with a knee issue for a few days. But he got two quick outs and he struggled to get the third one. But he’s still in the mix in the competition we have going on.”

Well, he was in the mix.  As were Evan Scribner and Ryan Cook, who are both out with lat injuries. Scribner won’t be ready for opening day and Cook has been placed on the 60-day disabled list.

With Steve Cishek and Joaquin Benoit locked into spots, the remaining competitors for three right-handed spots are:

  • Jonathan Aro
  • Mayckol Guaipe
  • Joel Peralta
  • Casey Coleman
  • Blake Parker
  • Tony Zych

It’s not an inspiring group. You could probably put Zych into one of those three spots. He’s got the most talent with the biggest fastball and upside. But he also a total of 18 big league appearances in his career – all in September. Still, he’s a power arm that should make the team. Guaipe and Aro are on the 40-man roster, which gives them some advantage. But neither has been particularly good this spring. Aro has allowed nine hits and eight runs (six earned) in 5 1/3 innings. Guaipe was abysmal last season and has been okay this spring. After a rough first outing, his last three outings have been scoreless.

With the Mariners having two open 40-man roster spots, Peralta could make the club. He has pitched well with just one shaky outing, and he has some “track record,” which Servais’ favors. Parker has had a “sneaky good” spring, according to Servais. He’s made four one-inning appearances and hasn’t allowed a run and just two hits with six strikeouts. But those outings have come in late innings of Cactus League games against mostly minor league hitters.

Asked about De Fratus and the right-handed depth on Wednesday morning before the move was announced, Servais was diplomatic, but not revealing of what was going to happen.

“Obviously when Scribner and Cook went down, that bit into our depth,” Servais said. “Where we’re at, there’s plenty of opportunity for guys to step up. Joel Peralta has been a nice surprise. I didn’t know what we’d get there and he’s throwing the ball really well. (De Fratus) looks good, but there’s competition there yet. I think each club in the Cactus League or Spring Training, their 25-man is not set.”

The competition will be decided by Servais and general manager Jerry Dipoto with input from the rest of the staff.

“You do rely on track record, but you also have to trust your eyes and what you’re seeing,” Servais said. “A lot goes into those decisions, from our group here and coaching staff to Jerry and the front office guys, what they’re seeing when they acquired the players. There’s a lot of opinions and a lot that weighs into those decisions. Again, there is plenty of opportunity here.”

It’s logical to expect that Dipoto will be monitoring the waiver wire as well as looking to make a trade for right-handed relief help. He could certainly push Jesus Montero, Mike Montgomery or catchers Steve Clevenger or Rob Brantly as minimal pieces to teams as well as find some lower level prospects in their decimated minor league system.

While the right-handed throwing portion of  the bullpen is in a bit of disarray, the left-handed side isn’t far from settled. Much of that depends on the health of Charlie Furbush, who has been battling some tightness in the back of his shoulder. Furbush played catch on Tuesday and felt better. A day later, he felt good enough to play catch again. But a timetable to be ready for opening day is undetermined. The ideal plan was to have Furbush and Vidal Nuno as the two lefties. Nuno would slide up into the late-inning lefty spot if Furbush can’t go.

To hedge against Furbush being behind when the season starts, the Mariners have moved Montgomery into a relief role. Since he’s out of minor league options and not going to make the starting rotation, Seattle will try Montgomery in the relief role in hopes of finding value and a bullpen arm.

He is scheduled to pitch one inning in today’s game against the Giants.

 

Also … 

Adam Lind was scratched from the lineup vs. the Giants. Lind picked up the flu bug that is going through the clubhouse. Bench coach Tim Bogar is also out for the day for the same reason. Catcher Steve Clevenger, who missed the last two days with the flu, was back in the clubhouse. Clevenger won’t play in today’s game though.

 

Game reserves and relief pitchers

Pitchers:

  • 38 Vidal Nuño ……………………………… LHP
  • 37 Mike Montgomery ……………………. LHP
  • 39 Casey Coleman ……………………… RHP
  • 48 Mayckol Guaipe ……………………… RHP
  • 55 Tony Zych……………………………… RHP
  • 89 Anthony Misiewicz*………………….. LHP
  • 90 Emilio Pagan* ………………………… RHP

 

Infielders:

  • 1 Chris Taylor …………………………….. INF
  • 5 Ed Lucas…………………………………. INF
  • 10 Jesus Montero …………………………. INF
  • 80 Luis Caballero* ………………………… INF
  • 81 Zach Shank* ……………………………. INF
  • 83 Tim Lopes* ……………………………… INF

 

Outfielders:

  • 40 Boog Powell (L) ………………………… OF
  • 73 Dario Pizzano (L)* …………………….. OF
  • 84 Austin Cousino (L)*……………………. OF
  • 85 Tyler O’Neill*…………………………….. OF
  • 99 Daniel Robertson ………………………. OF

 

Catchers:

  • 28 Steven Baron ……………………………… C
  • 67 Rob Brantly (L) …………………………… C
  • 86 James Alfonso*…………………………… C

* = from Minor League camp

 

Game notes