The Seattle Mariners will be on hand Saturday to scout and evaluate outfielder Rusney Castillo, a 27-year-old Cuban defector, at a showcase event in the Miami area.
“Anytime there’s someone out there showcasing (their skills),” general manager Jack Zduriencik said, “we’re going to have somebody there.
“This would be no different, but most other clubs will have somebody there as well.”
Some rival scouts suggest the Mariners, who seek a right-handed bat, are among the leading contenders to sign Castillo, whom Baseball America characterizes as a line-drive hitter with “plus-plus speed.”
The Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers and Minnesota Twins are among other clubs believed to be interested. The U.S. government recently cleared Castillo, which makes him eligible to sign immediately with any club.
The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Castillo is represented by Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports, which also represents Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano.
Rehabbing left-hander James Paxton is expected to join the Mariners in Anaheim, which will enable the major league staff to evaluate his bullpen workout before Saturday’s game.
Paxton threw 42 pitches Thursday over 22/3 innings for Single-A short-season Everett in his first game action since a May 24 rehab start for Triple-A Tacoma. He allowed two runs and two hits, struck out two and walked one.
“He threw the ball extremely well,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “It came out good. He had good finish.”
The Mariners plan to transfer Paxton’s rehab assignment to Tacoma, where he is tentatively slotted to start Tuesday against Las Vegas (Mets) at Cheney Stadium.
A strained back muscle forced Paxton to the disabled list in April. He suffered a setback when shoulder soreness surfaced after his May 24 rehab start.
“We’ll be very cautious with him,” McClendon said. “He’ll go through the process. He’ll be ready for his next rehab start, which will be in Tacoma on Tuesday. Then we’ll reevaluate after that.”
McClendon said he is “75 percent sure” that Paxton will make at least two rehab starts for the Rainiers.
“He’ll probably throw 50-55 (pitches) next time,” McClendon said. “Then he’ll build it to 75. We’ll see where he is after that. If he’s feeling real good, he could go 90 with the big club. I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see.”
McClendon isn’t yet ready to announce his starting pitcher for Tuesday’s game against the Mets.
Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez looms as a likely candidate to fill the rotation’s final slot coming out of the All-Star break. He pitched Thursday for Tacoma and could pitch Tuesday against the Mets on normal rest.
The Mariners have indicated Paxton likely will pitch Tuesday for the Rainiers. The club effectively took right-hander Taijuan Walker out of the mix by having him flip days with with Ramirez at Tacoma. Walker started Friday for the Rainiers.
“Who knows?” McClendon said. “Maybe it will be a bullpen day again.”
Mike Zunino leads all American League catchers at getting called strikes on pitches that are tracked as strikes by ESPN. His success rate is 88 percent. The only catcher better in either league is San Diego’s Yasmani Grandal at 88.3 percent. … Robinson Cano, who is batting .334, has a history of heating up after the All-Star break. He has a .302 career average before the break and a .321 average after the break. … Fernando Rodney entered the weekend needing one more save to reach 200 for his career.
Single-A Clinton outfielder Austin Wilson, the Mariners’ second-round pick in 2013, is out of a boot cast and running again. He should return to the lineup within a week to 10 days.
Wilson, 22, hasn’t played since June 24. Before the injury, he was batting .298 in 65 games with a .385 on-base percentage and a .523 slugging percentage. He had 11 homers and 52 RBIs.
Baseball America cited Double-A Jackson right-hander Victor Sanchez in its weekly Prospect Hot Sheet after a dominating performance in Saturday’s 7-1 victory over Birmingham (White Sox).
Sanchez, 19, allowed one run and three hits, struck out nine and walked one in eight innings. He is 5-4 with a 3.79 earned-run average in 14 starts.
“Sanchez has quietly zipped through the system,” Baseball America noted, “signing for $2.5 million out of Venezuela in 2011, skipping the high Class-A California League this year and showing he’s far from overmatched as a 19-year-old at Double A.”
It was 20 years ago Saturday — July 19, 1994 — that a 32-by-48-inch ceiling tile at the Kingdome fell to the field behind home plate roughly three hours before a game against Baltimore.
Some Mariners were working out on the field at the time. Three more tiles fell later in the day, and the game was postponed. The repair project forced the club to go on a 20-game trip.
Eventually, every ceiling tile was replaced — roughly 40,000 of them, each weighing 15 pounds. Two workers were killed in an Aug. 17 accident while removing the tiles.
The repair project cost $51 million, partly because it was performed on an accelerated schedule. It didn’t matter: A labor strike in mid-August ended the season.
The Mariners and Angels continue their three-game series at 6:05 p.m. Saturday with another marquee pitching matchup at Angel Stadium.
Seattle right-hander Felix Hernandez (11-2, 2.12 ERA) will oppose Los Angeles right-hander Garrett Richards (11-2, 2.55). Root Sports will broadcast the game.
The series concludes at 12:35 p.m. Sunday.