Suddenly the Mariners’ rotation has a potential leak as spring training winds through its closing days.
Left-hander Drew Smyly has been scratched from a scheduled start Friday night against Colorado after problems surfaced Tuesday in his regular between-starts bullpen workout.
"He didn’t feel great coming out of his bullpen (Tuesday)," manager Scott Servais said. "Just a little soggy. So we’re trying to get a feel for where he’s at."
Smyly, 27, was a key offseason addition to the Mariners’ rotation and was scheduled to make his season debut April 6 against the Astros in Houston.
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"At this time of spring," Servais said, "you’re always concerned. We’re getting close to opening day. I don’t want to rush to judgements or anything like that. We’ll wait and see what the doc says and go from there."
Smyly chose not to comment on the situation until he met with the doctors.
A minor problem likely would not affect Smyly’s ability to make his scheduled first start, He could even be pushed back one day to April 7, flipping spots with right-hander Yovani Gallardo, without affecting the Mariners’ rotation.
Anything longer than that would require the Mariners to find a replacement.
Lefty Ariel Miranda looms as the likeliest replacement since he was previously characterized by general manager Jerry Dipoto as the organization’s "sixth starter."
Miranda was optioned March 25 to Triple-A Tacoma but made 10 big-league starts last season in compiling a 3.54 ERA after being acquired in a July 31 trade from Baltimore.
Another possible replacement for Smyly is left-hander Dillon Overton, who is still in big-league camp as a candidate for the final spot in an eight-man bullpen. He made five starts last season for Oakland.
The new 10-day disabled list this season permits clubs to backdate an injury by a maximum of three days. That would, effectively, allow Smyly to open the season on the disabled list but only miss one start before returning to active duty.
The Mariners acquired Smyly in a Jan. 11 trade from Tampa Bay, where he was 7-12 last season with a 4.88 ERA in 30 starts.
In announcing the deal, Dipoto said: "I have probably spent more time throughout the course of our off-season in trying to acquire Drew Smyly than any other thing that we’ve done."
Smyly allowed five runs and seven hits in nine innings this spring in three starts in addition to spending time with the United States in its gold-medal run through the World Baseball Classic.
TACOMA STAFF CHANGE
Hocking, 46, is in his first year with the Mariners after spending the four previous seasons in the Angels’ organization. He was originally hired to serve as the hitting coach for Peoria in the Arizona Rookie League.
Hunter, 46, is in his third season with the organization and spent the previous two years as the hitting coach at Short-A Everett. McKay said Hunter’s new role was "to be determined."
Hocking joins a Tacoma staff consisting of manager Pat Listach, pitching coach Lance Painter and hitting coach Dave Berg. Hocking played 13 seasons in the big leagues from 1993-2005, including 11 at Minnesota.
The Mariners rank in the top one-third of big-league clubs in lowest average ticket prices, according to research by www.tickpick.com, a secondary ticket marketplace.
Specifically, the Mariners’ average price of $52.65 ranks ninth among the 30 clubs. A year ago, the Mariners ranked 19th in the survey.
The Chicago Cubs, no surprise, have the highest average ticket price at $150.63, followed by the New York Yankees at $106.05 and the Boston Red Sox at $102.09.
The lowest average price is also in Chicago — the White Sox at $30.26. The Los Angeles Angels rank second at $32.32, followed by Kansas City at $43.48.
The Angels have the lowest price among American League West clubs, followed by Texas at $50.22, the Mariners, Houston at $55.69 and Oakland at $58.41.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners