Seattle Mariners

Mariners preview: Seattle’s 2015 roster

2014 record: 87-75, third place in the American League West

Manager: No. 21 Lloyd McClendon (second season in Seattle; seventh overall as a manager)

STARTING PITCHERS

 Felix Hernandez will make his seventh consecutive opening day start Monday for Seattle. (AP) 
Felix Hernandez will make his seventh consecutive opening day start Monday for Seattle. (AP)

The skinny: Any unit that starts with Hernandez has a chance to be good. Now add a proven All-Star in Iwakuma, promising talents in Paxton and Walker along with a steady veteran like Happ. This could be, if everyone stays healthy, among the best rotations in either league. That’s a big “if,” though. Only Hernandez avoided time last year on the disabled list. The Mariners also have to count the innings on Paxton and Walker. That makes it likely that lefty Roenis Elias, who will open the season at Triple-A Tacoma, could be a frequent recall addition.

NO NAME T-B HT WT AGE MLBSERVICE
34 Felix Hernandez R-R 6-3 225 28 9.06 yrs
65 James Paxton L-L 6-4 235 26 1.027
18 Hisashi Iwakuma R-R 6-3 210 33 3.000
33 J.A. Happ L-L 6-5 205 32 6.047
32 Taijuan Walker R-R 6-4 235 22 0.142

RELIEF PITCHERS

 Fernando Rodney and his arrow antics will again anchor the Mariners bullpen. (AP) 
Fernando Rodney and his arrow antics will again anchor the Mariners bullpen. (AP)

The skinny: The bullpen exceeded all expectations last year after Rodney arrived. The cocked-cap faux archer often turns the ninth inning into a thrill ride, but he led the majors in saves and permitted everyone else to slot smoothly into other roles. Wilhelmsen was magnificent last year in shifting from closer to long reliever. Medina, Farquhar and Leone will cycle through various setup roles. Furbush is the situational lefty, while Olson won a job by producing a dynamic spring. It should be a strong unit again.

NO NAME T-B HT WT AGE MLBSERVICE
56 Fernando Rodney R-R 5-11 220 38 11.137
31 Yoervis Medina R-R 6-3 245 26 2.000
39 Carson Smith R-R 6-6 213 25 0.028
40 Danny Farquhar R-R 5-9 185 28 1.158
41 Charlie Furbush L-L 6-5 215 28 3.121
54 Tom Wilhelmsen R-R 6-6 220 31 3.091
66 Tyler Olson L-L 6-3 195 25 0

CATCHERS

 Catcher Mike Zunino will look to add more discipline at the plate this year. (AP) 
Catcher Mike Zunino will look to add more discipline at the plate this year. (AP)

The skinny: Zunino showed strong signs a year ago, in his first full season, of developing into a strong defensive receiver who possesses real muscle at the plate. His development priority this season is to add greater plate discipline in order to enhance his production. Sucre is a strong catch-and-throw receiver who fits the as an occasional backup.

NO NAME T-B HT WT AGE MLBSERVICE
2 Jesus Sucre R-R 6-1 225 26 0.169
3 Mike Zunino R-R 6-2 220 24 1.111

INFIELDERS

 Robinson Cano enters his second season with the Mariners ready to return to the playoffs. (AP) 
Robinson Cano enters his second season with the Mariners ready to return to the playoffs. (AP)

The skinny: Cano should remain a premier player for at least a few more years. Seager is a blossoming talent who combines pop and Gold Glove defense. Miller won the shortstop job by default in spring and must now prove he deserves it. The biggest question might be Morrison. Can he stay healthy and productive? Bloomquist, healthy again, backs up everyone.

NO NAME T-B HT WT AGE MLBSERVICE
8 Willie Bloomquist R-R 5-11 198 37 12.029
22 Robinson Cano R-L 6-1 212 32 9.153
5 Brad Miller R-L 6-2 200 25 1.094
20 Logan Morrison L-L 6-2 240 27 4.069
15 Kyle Seager R-L 6-1 210 27 3.085

OUTFIELDERS

 Slugger Nelson Cruz should add some much-needed power to the M’s lineup. (AP) 
Slugger Nelson Cruz should add some much-needed power to the M’s lineup. (AP)

The skinny: It is here where the Mariners improved the most from a year ago by adding Cruz, the home-run champ who will serve primarily as the designated hitter, and three veterans in Smith, Ruggiano and Weeks. The latter three, along with Ackley, are ticketed for left-right platoon duty. Jackson returns in center and could be the key to the entire season. He was a disaster last season after arriving in a July 31 trade. What the Mariners need is for him to return to his Detroit form. If that happens, it likely sets a tone for the entire lineup.

NO NAME T-B HT WT AGE MLBSERVICE
13 Dustin Ackley R-L 6-1 205 27 3.087
23 Nelson Cruz R-R 6-2 230 34 7.082
16 Austin Jackson R-R 6-1 185 28 5.000
12 Justin Ruggiano R-R 6-1 210 32 4.019
7 Seth Smith L-L 6-3 210 32 6.119
25 Rickie Weeks R-R 5-10 220 32 9.131

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.com

blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners

@TNT_Mariners

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