Ariel Miranda still projects as the likeliest fit to serve as the second lefty in the Mariners’ bullpen but for now, as full-squad drills begin, he’ll be treated as a rotation candidate.
"We’ll keep him stretched out," manager Scott Servais said. "We hope we get through camp without any injuries or hiccups (in the projected rotation). If there is one, I hope he’s throwing well enough that he could step in and do that."
Miranda, 28, made 10 starts in 11 outings last season after joining the Mariners from Baltimore in a July 31 trade for pitcher Wade Miley.
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While Miranda went 5-2 with a 3.54 ERA, his lack of a consistent breaking ball effectively made him a two-pitch pitcher who seemed a better fit in the bullpen.
"He looks great this spring," Servais said. "The things we asked him to work on over the offseason, maybe a little more consistent breaking ball, it looks really good. I like where he’s at. The ball is coming out really hot."
It can be instructive to see how clubs line up their spring hitting groups. While the groupings fall short of being a de facto depth chart, they’re still worth noting.
The Mariners have eight groups. The postings did not include Leonys Martin, who has permission to report late to camp in order to take care of a personal matter in Miami.
The groups were posted Sunday in this order:
Group 1A: Mike Zunino, Carlos Ruiz, Tuffy Gosewisch and Steven Baron.
Group 1B: Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager.
Group 1C: Danny Valencia, Jarrod Dyson and Jean Segura.
Group 1D: Dan Vogelbach, Mitch Haniger and Shawn O’Malley.
Group 2A: Nevin Ashley, Marcus Littlewood, Sebastian Valle and Tyler Marlette.
Group 2B: Taylor Motter, Guillermo Heredia and Mike Freeman.
Group 2C: Ben Gamel, Boog Powell and Kyle Waldrop.
Group 2D: D.J. Peterson, Tyler Smith and Tyler O’Neill.
Tampa Bay outfielder Mallex Smith recently reflected on his brief stay with the Mariners to the Tampa Bay Times, calling it "some of the best 77 minutes of my life."
The Mariners acquired Smith from Atlanta in a Jan. 11 trade and, shortly thereafter traded him to the Rays in a deal that returned left-hander Drew Smyly.
Smith said general manager Jerry Dipoto alerted him to the likely quick flip after the first trade. Even so, Smith is having fun with the situation.
"It was awesome," he told The Times. "The environment was crazy. It was electric…I’m still getting fan mail from the Mariners’ fans about all the work I put in over there."
The Mariners’ morning meeting typically contain lighter moments. An example last year was Dae-Ho Lee’s full-blown reenactment of the Gangnam Style pop video.
On Saturday, Servais asked a few in attendance to spell the name of new reliever Marc Rzepczynski. (Hah! Did that from memory.) Servais said third-base coach Manny Acta tried first and began by writing M-a-r-k on the board. Buzz. Next.
Servais said he then called on Hisashi Iwakuma, who wrote out his answer in Japanese. Interpreter Antony Suzuki said Iwakuma had it correct.
Not so fast. Servais told Suzuki to translate the spelling into English — and that translation was incorrect.
In preparing his annual pre-camp remarks prior to Sunday’s first full-squad workout, Servais said he researched how many countries were represented on the 62-player roster.
The answer: 11, including 10 on the club’s 40-man roster.
The United States (44), Dominican Republic (4), Cuba (3), Canada (2), Mexico (2), Venezuela (2), Brazil (1), Japan (1), Panama (1), Puerto Rico (1) and South Africa (1).
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners