PHOENIX – The Seattle Mariners have announced their first starting rotation of the 2010 season – and while the names are familiar, the order isn’t.
No Cliff Lee. No Erik Bedard.
Instead, the Mariners will go with Felix Hernandez, Ian Snell, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Doug Fister and Jason Vargas.
Yes, in that order.
Manager Don Wakamatsu said having two right-handers at the top of the rotation was less important than how all five match up with the Athletics and Rangers, whom the Mariners play in their first three series.
“What you’re looking at is how you juggle it as you go forward. Read between the lines,” Wakamatsu said. “The other thing is how it sets up the first three series.”
Staying in that rotation, lefty Rowland-Smith would start Seattle’s home opener on April 12.
Snell, acquired from Pittsburgh last July – where he’d been sent to the minor leagues – as the No. 2 man in the rotation?
“From the first time I saw him to now I think he’s grown tremendously,” Wakamatsu said. “You look at the confidence level he came over with; he basically had been down in Triple-A with Pittsburgh after being one of their best pitchers. He’s regaining that belief system.”
Fister will start fourth to break up lefties Rowland-Smith and Vargas.
By late April, the Mariners hope to inject Lee into that rotation. Sometime in May, they hope to get Bedard in.
Patterson opts out
As the final roster decisions are made, outfielder Corey Patterson took one off of the Seattle Mariners’ hands.
He opted out of his minor league contract and became a free agent.
Patterson wasn’t going to win a job, having hit .216 in 19 spring games. His departure, however, leaves the Mariners with two outfielders – Ryan Langerhans and Eric Byrnes – and one available spot on Seattle’s bench.
Figure Byrnes wins that job. Langerhans has been fighting a tender left elbow and hasn’t played in a game in a week.
Patterson’s departure leaves the team with 32 players still in camp, 27 of those on the 40-man roster.
Sweeney rests his case
Mike Sweeney has made his case to be a Seattle Mariner all spring and continued that push Wednesday with a four-hit game that included a game-winning, ninth-inning RBI double as Seattle beat Texas, 7-6.
Roster spot, anyone?
Sweeney is hitting .559 this spring with 10 RBI in limited playing time, and for a team without enough offense, his bat has been too consistently good to leave behind in Arizona.
The Mariners came from behind – trailing 4-0, then 6-3 – and tied the game on a two-run home run by Jose Lopez in the eighth inning.
After starter David Pauley was touched for six runs in four innings, Mariners relievers Jesus Colome, Brandon League, Mark Lowe, David Aardsma and Steve Bray combined to shut Texas out the rest of the way.
Seattle is 11-16-1 this spring. A year ago, they finished 16-18.
The Mariners also put two players on the 15-day disabled list – Erik Bedard and Jack Hannahan – back-dated to March 26. Of the 27 players on Seattle’s 40-man roster still in camp, one is recently waived Ryan Garko. The five non-roster players still with the team: pitcher Colome, catcher Josh Bard, infielders Josh Wilson and Chris Woodward and DH Sweeney. That’s two players – Sweeney and Colome – the Mariners must make roster spots for by Monday. ... Milton Bradley went 3-for-3 with a double and stolen base, his third of the spring. ... Rob Johnson caught Hernandez in his minor league start, and stole second base. “I was going to steal third, too, but the dugout was looking at me funny,” Johnson said. “If you look up my minor-league numbers, I stole some bases.” Johnson will catch Felix on opening day Monday.
The last Cactus League game the Mariners play in Arizona is today, when they host a Chicago White Sox Single-A lineup. Why Class A? It’s a split-squad game, and the Sox are playing their own Triple-A and Double-A teams in the other game. Probable starting pitchers: Scott Elarton vs. Ian Snell. The game will be broadcast on 710-AM.