Mariners Spring Training Report: 3 Up, 3 Down as Infield Questions Linger
By Trevor Pedro
Another week is in the books, and the storylines continue to come out of Peoria. Dylan Moore is starting the year on the injured list, top prospect Bryce Miller offered a glimpse of the future in a matchup with Rangers’ ace Jacob Degrom, and the last spot on the bench is still up for grabs. So let's get things started with our top performers.
Mariners Top Performers: 3 Up
Robbie Ray continues to shove this spring (12 IP/21 K), as the fastball was up to 97 yesterday against the White Sox. The slider was also on target, with "Bob" racking nine strikeouts in four innings. If the veteran lefthander can harness this version of himself, this rotation goes from great to elite.
All-Star first baseman Ty France is starting to lock in with his timing—the 28-year-old hit .400 this week, including an absolute blast in Friday's loss to the Guardians. Ty is one of the few contact hitters in this lineup, which increases his importance. However, while the bat is coming around, he showed off his deadpan wit yesterday in a must-listen ROOT Sports Mic’d Up session.
Chris Flexen continues to increase his trade value this spring. He had two solid starts this week, accumulating 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball. Both Scott Servais and Pete Woodworth mentioned the uptick in Flexen’s stuff, which bodes well for the 2023 season. However, there's been speculation that President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto might flip Flexen for a Dylan Moore stand-in. Considering pitching depth is essential, especially when facing the Astros, we should hold on to Flexen.
Mariners Not -So Top Performers: 3 Down
It is do-or-die time for Tommy La Stella. He's only played four games, with none being in the field. With Dylan Moore's injury, the utility infielder must show the ability to handle both second and third base. This isn't about the bat but availability. Servais has publicly called out Mason McCoy’s solid camp, which means La Stella’s chances of breaking camp as dwindling.
I've always thought the pen could use a lefthander to face some AL West power bats (e.g., Alvarez, Seager, Ohtani). Unfortunately, that might not be in the cards, as Gabe Speier and Taylor Saucedo had rough outings this week. Saucedo allowed four runs in one inning, which amounted to a blown save. Not the performance that instills confidence in a manager. Speier was a little better but also racked up a blown save. They are probably destined for Tacoma with possible call-ups later this year.
J.P. Crawford has held down designated hitter duties this week because of what Servais called a ‘soggy shoulder.’ He is starting to get the timing down (3-8 this week), but this team needs him in the field. His primary backup (Moore) is nursing an oblique injury, and the talent drop-off between the 28-year-old and Mason McCoy or Sam Haggerty is steep. Nevertheless, team officials believe Crawford will be back at shortstop today or tomorrow. That will be a welcome sight!
Ten days until opening day at T-Mobile, and the roster is starting to take shape. Here's to no more spring training injuries and an uneventful slate of Cactus League games. No news is good news, unless we are talking about Jarred Kelenic, who continues to go nuclear in Peoria.