Eric Wedge has to worry about everything, Carl Willis only the pitching staff – which means the Seattle Mariners’ trip to Japan and back has given Willis a logistical headache.
“Trying to keep everyone sharp, give the guys who we have to make decisions on innings, it’s tough,” Willis said Sunday.
Blake Beavan, for instance, started against Kansas City on Sunday – his first start since March 12.
And after giving everyone but Kevin Millwood the night off Saturday, the Mariners had to make a tough call for their upcoming two-game series in Oakland beginning Friday.
“Since Felix (Hernandez) and Jason (Vargas) pitched in Japan, we have a week off before playing again, and we had a spot for one of them to pitch (Monday),” Willis said.
“We flip-flopped them, so Jason will pitch the first game in Oakland, Felix the second game.”
Beavan had to pitch and there were no minor league game slots available Sunday – Mariners teams were playing one another to get innings.
That meant one starter had to throw a bullpen session to be ready for Friday’s game.
The Mariners elected to have Felix pitch today, then Saturday in Oakland and then – after a four-game series in Texas – the home opener against the A’s on April 13 at Safeco Field.
“That had nothing to do with the decision,” Willis said, “but the marketing folks will love me.”
Seattle has decided to pitch at least one time through its entire rotation – Vargas, Hernandez, Millwood, Beavan and Hector Noesi once the regular season reopens Friday.
“I think early, it’s important to get everyone out there,” Willis said. “We started our season March 28, and we’ll have one of our starters not pitch until the 11th of April.
“That’s a long ways in, but that’s just how it is.”
Now Willis has to give his manager and front office looks at relievers pitching for their jobs this week, including left-handers Lucas Luetge and Charlie Furbush and righties Steve Delabar and Shawn Kelley.
With starters going six or more innings, that’s no easy task.
“It’s tough with relievers in spring training because they’re scheduled to pitch certain days,” Willis said. “Once the season starts, and they’re up and in games a time or two, that adrenaline rush is there again and they’re more comfortable.
“Minor league camp ends (today), starters are stretched out and innings are tough to find. It’s a challenge.”
Coach Robby Thompson returned to duty after missing a day with flu-like symptoms, but that bug wreaked havoc on the Mariners’ clubhouse Sunday.
Dustin Ackley came in and was sent home early for a second consecutive day.
Outfielders Carlos Peguero and Michael Saunders and left-handed reliever George Sherrill were also given treatment – plenty of fluids – and sent home.
M’S PLEAD THE SIXTH
The Mariners got marvelous relief pitching, home runs from Miguel Olivo and Kyle Seager, and beat the Kansas City Royals, 6-4.
Luetge, Brandon League, Tom Wilhelmsen and Delabar shut out the Royals over the final 32/3 innings while Seattle rallied for six runs in the sixth inning.
Shortstop Munenori Kawasaki had three hits, and Olivo and Jesus Montero had two apiece.
Chone Figgins went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and is now batting .188 this spring.
In 5 innings, Beavan allowed four runs and threw 94 pitches facing hitters for the first time in nearly three weeks.
Looking for a spring training matchup for the ages? Today against Colorado, it will be Felix Hernandez vs. Jamie Moyer. That’s right, the 49-year-old Moyer, who made the Rockies’ rotation and was in Seattle’s when a raw rookie named Hernandez came up...
The Peoria Sports Complex named Alex Liddi its spring rookie of the year. When handed the award, Liddi was batting .429 with a .500 on-base percentage.
Seattle plays host to Colorado in a 1:05 p.m. game Monday that will be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Moyer vs. Hernandez.