PEORIA, Ariz. — It happens every spring in nearly every camp. Somebody comes out of nowhere to make the roster.
Somebody emerges as Cinderella.
Both are in camp as non-roster invites after agreeing in the off-season to minor-league deals as six-year free agents in hopes of finding opportunity in a new location.
Never miss a local story.
"With the whole new front office," said Roach, who bounded through three organizations last year after getting a two-month taste in the big leagues early in the 2014 season at San Diego.
"I felt it was a fresh start for everyone."
The Mariners’ new administration wasn’t new to Roach, who spent three years in the Angels’ organization from 2010-12. The final two years came when Jerry Dipoto was general manager and Scott Servais ran the farm system.
"He was kind of a one-pitch guy," Servais said. "Just a sinker. The secondary pitches were slow to come. We decided to trade him to make us better at the time. He’s matured. He’s found his secondary pitches, and he’s a different guy."
Parker, 30, missed much of last year because of elbow surgery after spending parts of the three previous seasons with the Chicago Cubs, including 49 appearances in 2013 when he compiled a 2.72 ERA.
Released last May by the Cubs after nine years in the organization, he underwent surgery in mid-June and attracted the Mariners’ interest by making a few appearances last winter for Mexicali in the Mexican Pacific League.
Parker said he feels he’s back to where he was prior to the surgery but admits he’s still fine-tuning: "There are still a lot of adjustments to make."
For the Mariners, the choice for the final spot in their bullpen isn’t necessarily between Roach and Parker. Right-hander Mayckol Guaipe has allowed just one run over 9 2/3 innings in his last six appearances.
The Mariners are also sifting through trade possibilities and will no doubt closely scan the waiver wire as other clubs trim their rosters in the final week before the regular season starts.
For now, though, Cinderella lives.
Parker, 30, and Roach, 26, each signed with the Mariners in December on deals that included an invite to big-league camp…and the likelihood that each would be Apriling in the South Sound at Triple-A Tacoma.
That could still happen.
Roach seemed to cement that outcome when he labored through a rocky 1 1/3 innings on March 7 when he allowed six runs (albeit four unearned) and nine hits against Arizona.
But Parker built a case with a series of five carefully spaced scoreless one-inning outings. The Mariners gave him at least two recovery days each time between assignments in order to ease the stress on his rebuilt elbow.
Club officials began paying closer attention.
"With Blake Parker," Dipoto said, "it’s 89-92 (mph). He works ahead in the count, and he has a legitimate wipe-out split."
When an injury to Evan Scribner created an opening for right-handed reliever, Parker moved to the front of the line — at least until the Mariners brought him into a March 19 game against Arizona with only one day of rest.
Parker gave up two hits, two walks and two runs in just two-thirds of an inning. That stumble raised concerns regarding whether he’d be able to handle the necessary workload at the start of the season.
While that hiccup slowed Parker, Roach recalibrated his spring after a conversation with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.
"Just minor adjustments," Roach said. "Getting on top of the ball and, since I throw a sinker, make sure it’s going down. I think my velo jumped a little bit, too, with the adjustments."
The result was 10 1/3 scoreless innings over four appearances. Each outing was at least two innings as the Mariners sought to build Roach’s endurance in the event he still ends up in the Tacoma rotation.
"We’ve seen more power in his sinker," Dipoto said. "He’s starting to use his split-finger, which he had back in college. Frankly, when we were in the Angels’ system, we didn’t see it a great deal."
Parker rebounded from his one shaky outing with two scoreless appearances. The latest was 1 1/3 innings on Friday against the White Sox — and it was notable: it came with just one day of rest from his previous outing.
"He had a good outing last time, too," Servais said. "It was just that one in-between that he scuffled a little bit. It was good to see."
The looks will continue a little longer.
"It’s very close," Servais said. "Neck and neck. They both have struggled at times. They’ve both looked OK for an inning or two here or there. It’s very close."
The competition resumes Sunday when Paxton starts against the Chicago Cubs in Mesa. Then it’s Karns’ turn on Monday for a start in Peoria against Kansas City. Both are also in line to start the final two spring games.
Karns missed a chance to separate himself Wednesday when he gave up nine runs in 2 1/3 innings against Oakland. That led to a between-starts bullpen workout Friday that focused on his mental approach.
"He needs to start getting some confidence back as well," Servais said. "I don’t think it was mechanical issues (Friday). It was more of his approach, where his mind is and getting after it."
Paxton dropped down to a minor-league game last Tuesday after getting spanked by the Athletics in his previous start for seven runs in two innings.
The loser in the battle appears likely to start the season at Tacoma. Servais indicated the Mariners are backing away from the idea of putting the odd-man out into the bullpen.
"We’ve kicked the idea around a little bit," he acknowledged, "but I think you’ve got to be careful that, if you do that, you can lose the ability to keep them stretched out.
"That if there is an issue (in the rotation), you don’t have an option to go to them."
FURBUSH ON HOLD
Lefty reliever Charlie Furbush still can’t shake the lingering tightness in the lower deltoid of his shoulder and now, after his latest examination, sounds like a pitcher who doesn’t expect to return to active duty for a while.
"I haven’t played catch in two days now," he said. "I feel ready to play catch. I just think they’re trying to make sure. Once we get this game plan and start moving forward, we’ll have more of a timeline.
"That should give me some clarity on what the next three or four weeks will look like."
Furbush, 29, missed the final three months last season because of biceps tendinitis and small tear in his rotator cuff.
"Overall, I feel pretty good," he said, "so it’s just still not quite there yet. A little bit (of tightness). It’s something that I would like to go away. Once that little tightness goes away, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be fine."
Furbush said he hasn’t yet undergone another magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam but admitted: "I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the route. Just to gain some more clarity. Obviously, it’s unfortunate that I’m not ready for opening day."
Brantly is 5-for-14 (.357) in 12 games since arriving in a March 12 waiver claim from the Chicago White Sox.
"Clevenger missed some time, being sick for a while," Servais said, "and Brantly took advantage of some playing time. Brantly has swung the bat very well. I’ve also been very pleased with the progress that Clevenger has made defensively."
Both are left-handed hitters — and both are out of options, which means either one would need to pass through waivers in order to be sent to the minors.
Clevenger is 8-for-28 (.286) in 11 games.
Shortstop Ketel Marte returned to the lineup after missing two games because of the flu…plans called for outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, slowed recently by the flu, to drop down to minor-league games to catch up on missed at-bats. Lax rules in those games permit players to bat every inning…Servias is also battling the flu. He said he planned to tough it out Saturday in the sun. Wisconsin toughness.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners