The former Gonzaga standout, delivered a second consecutive stellar performance Monday in the Mariners’ 4-3 Cactus League win over the Indians.
PEORIA, Ariz. — Add another name to the competition for the second left-handed reliever in the Mariners bullpen, and this candidate might be the early front-runner after the first seven games this spring.
Tyler Olson, a native of Spokane, a graduate of University High and former Gonzaga standout, delivered a second consecutive stellar performance Monday in the Mariners’ 4-3 Cactus League win over the Indians.
Olson wowed the crowd at Peoria Stadium, coming in to pitch the fourth inning and striking out the top of the Cleveland Indians order — Jason Kipnis, Yan Gomes and Michael Brantley.
“Olson did a nice job,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He’s a little funky. He’s a little different. He’s interesting.”
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He’s been effective. In his previous outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Olson pitched two perfect innings with relative ease. He has struck out five hitters in three innings and hasn’t walked anyone.
“Things are going well,” he said. “I’m just going out there and trying to compete and not do too much.”
It didn’t matter to Olson that he struck out two All-Stars in Kipnis and Brantley and the Indians’ everyday catcher in Gomes.
“I try not to focus on who is hitting and just focus on what my catcher is putting down and executing pitches,” he said.
Olson was a seventh-round selection in the 2013 draft out of Gonzaga, where he earned West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year honors as a senior.
He spent his first season with Class A Everett, splitting time between relieving and starting and posting a 2-4 record with a 4.33 ERA in 18 appearances, including eight starts.
Last season, he started at Class A High Desert, posting a 2-1 record with a 3.13 ERA in five starts. That’s a nice accomplishment, considering the hitte- friendly environment of the California League.
“That was actually good for me,” he said. “It forced me to work down in the strike zone.”
He moved to Class AA Jackson, where he posted a 10-7 record with a 3.52 ERA in 22 starts. But he isn’t committed to being only a starter.
“I’m just trying to do what I can to show the people that need to see what I’ve got,” he said.
Olson is competing with Lucas Luetge, David Rollins, Joe Saunders and Rafael Perez for that coveted spot in the bullpen. Though it’s early, he’s looked the best of the group.
“He’s in the mix,” McClendon said. “We have to see all those guys. It’s early. They’re all going to get opportunities. We’ll see what happens.”
M’ s sign Correia to minor-league deal
There was a new pitcher in big league camp Monday. Veteran right-hander Kevin Correia signed a minor-league contract with an invite to big-league spring training in the morning, then took the field for a workout with the pitchers.
“It’s just an opportunity to prove myself and see if I can make this team,” Correia said. “ It was kind of a quick process. I’m here to try and be a starting pitcher. No matter where I go that’s what I try to do.”
Correia has pitched in the big leagues for 12 seasons, posting a 76-95 record in 353 appearances, including 219 starts. Last season he went 5-13 with a 4.94 ERA in 23 starts for the Twins before being traded to the Dodgers.
The Mariners aren’t exactly in dire need of a starting pitching, but Correia adds to their organizational depth. He had been working out at his home in San Diego trying to find the right opportunity.
“It was getting to the point where it was time to go, either way,” he said. “The offseason didn’t work out the way I hoped it would have, but I’m happy with where I landed.”
Mariners consolidate Latin American program
The Mariners have decided to consolidate their Latin American player development program into one place – their new facility in the Dominican Republic in Boca Chica.
This effectively closes their academy and summer-league team in Aguirre, Carabobo, Venezuela.
“By bringing our operation under one umbrella, we will be much more efficient and effective in the development of young players, who will all compete on two Mariners teams in the Dominican Summer League,” general manager Jack Zduriencik said in a statement. “We will continue to be heavily invested in our scouting efforts throughout Latin America and particularly in Venezuela where we have a great tradition and have experienced much success.”
What Zduriencik didn’t say in the statement is that the level of political and social unrest in Venezuela is a factor. Changed policies under the new political regime, requiring work visas, have made it more difficult for scouts and staff to get into the country. No other teams have left the area, but the Venezuelan Summer League had just five teams counting the Mariners. If another team were to leave the country, the league would basically disband.
The Venezuelan academy helped develop current players such as Felix Hernandez, Yoervis Medina and Mayckol Guaipe.