For the Seattle Mariners, this Spring has been accompanied with great success. First off, the Mariners were second only to the Royals in wins, and their 22 wins broke the Spring Training club records. The Mariners also smashed 58 home runs, a club record. Only one major league team, the 1999 Cubs, hit more home runs in Spring Training. For a team that is desperately looking to improve their offense, this Spring brought great early returns for the Mariners. They will now look to carry that momentum into the season starting tomorrow in Oakland.
The biggest surprise in the Spring might not have been the Mariners’ power surge, but the starting rotation battle. It seemed with two spots open, a spot was going to go to veteran Jon Garland, filling the role Kevin Millwood took last season. But the Mariners released Garland, and they will take a chance on Brandon Maurer. The 22-year-old right-hander, who will make his major league debut Thursday, was sharp all Spring going 3-1 with a 1.50 ERA in 24 innings of work. He beat out Garland and Erasmo Ramirez, who was sent back to Tacoma. The Mariners rotation will go: Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Joe Saunders, Maurer, and Blake Beavan.
The last roster spot will be announced officially today, and it is a battle between Jason Bay and Casper Wells. It seems that Bay, looking to rebound from a down year with the New York Mets, will land that back-up OF spot. Bay travelled with the team to their last pre-season game yesterday, while Casper Wells didn’t. Wells, who came over from Detroit in the Doug Fister deal, is out of Minor League options so Seattle will have to trade or release him. The Mariners expected to have two new faces in the middle of their order Monday night: Kendrys Morales at DH and Michael Morse in LF. Justin Smoak, who had a lot of heat on him to hold his spot with the Mariners’ new acquisitions, looks to be the Opening Day 1B.
The schedule makers didn’t do the Mariners any favors as they will play 14 straight games to open the season. They open the season with 4 games at the surprising A.L. West champion, Oakland, before travelling to Chicago to play 3 against the White Sox. Seattle opened with 4 games against Oakland last season, 2 overseas and 2 in Oakland, and took 3 out of 4. Seattle went 7-12 against Oakland in 2012, and they went an awful 1-8 against Chicago