Cactus League Game 26 – Mariners at Rockies
First things first – the M’s made the first of three roster moves ahead of tomorrow’s deadline by optioning Shawn Kelley to AAA. This is something of a surprise, as I think most of us thought he was safe. He put up decent numbers this spring, but his fastball’s still not back where it was in 2010. In fact, it’s not back where it was last year, when he was coming off of partial Tommy John surgery. It’s gone from 94 mph in 2009 to 93mph in 2010 to 91.5 last year to a tick under 91 this spring. That’s not entirely fair, as Kelley’s velo would presumably be higher later in the year, but it’s obviously not where the M’s wanted it. Jack Zduriencik explained the reasoning to Greg Johns here.
Felix Hernandez mentioned the fact that he was in fact throwing a cutter yesterday in a post-game Q and A with reporters. I wouldn’t say he has a good feel for the pitch yet and the FB velocity drop is still perplexing, but it’s hard to quibble with yesterday’s results. A part of me is stunned that Felix can be effective at 89-90, even in a Cactus League game, but a larger part of me is no longer capable of being surprised by the myriad ways Felix can be awesome.
Jesus Montero’s fine.
The full-season minor league affiliates kick off their 2012 season on Thursday – all four are at home. If you’re local, Tacoma’s taking on Salt Lake (Angels) – it’ll be a good opportunity to check out Catricala, Carlos Triunfel and Chance Ruffin. If you’re near Jackson, Tennessee, one of the big three pitching prospects figures to get the opening day start. Hell, Jackson’s one of most intriguing minor league affiliates in baseball this year. High Desert hosts Lancaster (Houston), while Clinton hosts Burlington (Athletics).
Erasmo Ramirez gets a spot start today, which (together with Kelley’s demotion) solidifies his presence on the 25 man roster. It’d be odd to pitch him today if he was going to head to Tacoma tomorrow, and taking a righty out of the pen would seem to make the remaining righties pretty safe. Alex Liddi and Charlie Furbush figure to be the other two sent down. It’s just nice to see Erasmo get longer outings, as he figures to be the team’s de facto #6 starter.
The line-up for today’s game (on 710am/Mariners Radio and Root Sports tv):
1: Kawasaki (SS)
2: Ackley (2B)
3: Seager (3B)
4: Olivo (C)
5: Saunders (CF)
6: Liddi (1B)
7: Peguero (RF)
8: Wells (LF)
9: Jaso (DH)