Like they did with Erik Bedard, the Mariners have chosen to have today's starting pitcher Doug Fister work in a minor league game against the San Diego Padres rather than face AL West rival Texas in Surprise.
So instead, the Mariners pitch "Johnny All-Staff" today.
They will use several relievers and not a true starter against the Rangers, meaning lots of pitching changes.
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Left-hander Fabio Castro, who looks like he has about 65 percent chance of making this team, will start the game. Then relievers Tom Wilhelmsen, Cesar Jimenez, Chris Ray, Justin Miller, Royce Ring and then if needed Jarrett Grube, Scott Patterson and Brian Moran will throw.
Castro has been pretty good this spring. In five appearances, he's allowed just three hits and one earned run while striking out six and walking just one. But he's doing it against often times minor league hitters. Well, by starting today he gets to face Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton at least to start the game. It's one of the reasons why he is starting to see how he does against major league hitters.
Castro does have big league experience. He's appeared in 30 games in four seasons, but the Mariners want to see if this Cactus League success is a function of him being good or the hitters he's facing not being good.
I was sitting here trying to figure out who is in the bullpen and who isn't. And it's not very easy.
David Aardsma won't be ready for the start of the season. Shawn Kelley won't be ready till probably June. So they are out.
Let's fill the the seven spots -- and you probably have to have seven especially if both Erik Bedard and Michael Pineda are in the rotation.
"We've got quite a few guys just on the cusp, on the fringe," Wedge said. "We haven't made any decision yet with the exception of the couple of obvious guys."
That would be Brandon League and Chris Ray at this point.
So that's two. After that, I can find no obvious guys.
Well, Josh Lueke has pitched as well as anybody this spring. He has set-up man stuff. In six appearances, he has posted a 2.35 ERA. In 7 2/3 innings, he's allowed six hits and two runs and has walked just one batter and struck out four. He should be in the bullpen.
So that's three.
It looks as though David Pauley is candidate for the long reliever. He's pitched in both roles, he's versatile. The staff likes him.
So I guess that's four.
Three more spots left:
You have to choose from lefties: Jimenez, Ring, Castro and Laffey and right-handers Wilhelmsen, Miller, Denny Bautista, Jamey Wright and Rule 5 pick Jose Flores.
And of those guys - Ring, Castro, Wright, Bautista and Miller are not on the 40-man roster. Now granted the Mariners have a open roster spot with Garrett Olson being waived.
Because of that, Laffey probably makes the team over Jimenez, who is out of Triple A options, but still can't throw a breaking ball.
Jimenez would leave an open roster spot, and allow one of the right-handers either Wright or Miller to make the team. Wright has been better than Miller this spring, not allowing a run in six appearances, and Miller has been spotty at best. Wilhelmsen has been a little inconsistent this spring. He throws hard. Scouts loves his stuff, particularly the movement on his fastball. But he's never pitched above Class A baseball. To make that jump is too much. Flores, who's holding a valuable roster spot and also never pitched above A ball, isn't ready and his roster spot is too valuable. So he's headed back to the Indians.
So you add Laffey and Wright/Miller that's six.
One more to go - and it's between Ring/Castro and Bautista. I don't know even know how to handicap that race. Does it really matter? Bautista has decent stuff, but his command is just too erratic. Ring has plenty of big league experience (99 appearances).
Right now, I'd go with Ring. Greg Johns of MLB.com just told me, he'd go with Castro. Then again, he had Dan Cortes making the bullpen. At this point, who knows. I don't think the Mariners coaches even know.
So that means the bullpen is ...
- RHP Brandon League - closer
- RHP Chris Ray - set up
- RHP - Josh Lueke
- RHP - Jamey Wright
- RHP - David Pauley
- LHP - Aaron Laffey
- LHP - Royce Ring