PEORIA, Ariz. — Rookie infielder Ketel Marte drew his first spring start Saturday, at second base against White Sox in Glendale, despite making four errors over the two previous games at shortstop after entering the game as a late-inning replacement.
Marte, 21, is universally viewed as one of the organization’s top prospects and ranks No. 3 on the TNT Top 10. (His name pronounced as kuh-tell mar-TAY.)
“Spring training,” manager Lloyd McClendon said in shrugging off Marte's errors. “The ground is hard. Fast. He’s probably trying a little too hard. He’ll be fine. He’s a player.”
Asked to elaborate on “player,” McClendon said: “He’s a switch-hitter. He slashes it from both sides. He can steal bases. He’s going to hit and hit for a little power, and he plays the middle very well. There’s a lot to like.
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“With a young player like Marte, they come to camp and they want to impress. They probably think the manager is (ticked) off because they made an error. But that’s not the case.
“He’s just got to relax and play, and I’m going to keep putting him out there. One of these days, he’s going to catch one…He’s going to be pretty good.”
(Yes, that “one of these days” line was a joke.)
Marte signed with the Mariners as a 16-year-old in 2010. He compiled a .302/.329/.404 slash last season 109 games at Double-A Jackson before going .313/.367/.450 in 19 games at Triple-A Tacoma.
CHANGE FOR HERNANDEZ
Change in plans: Felix Hernandez will now make his spring debut one days earlier than previously planned. The revised schedule calls for him to pitch Tuesday against Colorado at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale.
Hernandez threw a bullpen workout Saturday in preparation for his start after overmatching a collection of minor-league players Wednesday while throwing live batting practice.
That schedule positions Hernandez to get five outings prior to his projected start on April 6 against the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field.
Lefty James Paxton is tentatively scheduled to make his spring debut March 17 against the Chicago White Sox in Glendale.
Paxton threw his first official bullpen workout Friday and reported no day-after soreness in his forearm. He jammed both of his forearms when he reached to catch him after tripping in a pre-camp agility workout.
The tentative schedule would permit Paxton to make four spring starts.
Danny Hultzen saw further progress Saturday in throwing his second session of live batting practice: his breaking pitches had more snap.
“When I can just throw it and throw it for strikes,” he said, “that when I know it’s better.”
Hultzen threw a 30-pitch session, which should position him for his first game action in more than 18 months at some point in the next few days. He underwent major shoulder surgery on Oct. 1, 2013.
“That’d be great,” he said. “That would be the first time in a really, really long time that I’ve been in a real game.”
YOUNG TO KANSAS CITY
Former Mariners right-hander Chris Young is a free agent no longer after reaching agreement with Kansas City on a one-year deal for $675,000 in base salary with $5.325 million in possible performance bonuses.
Young, 35, resurrected his career last season with the Mariners by going 12-9 with a 3.65 ERA in 30 games. His 12 victories matched a career high, and his 165 innings were his highest total since 2007.
The signing came one day after former Mariners reliever Joe Beimel agreed to a one-year deal with Texas.