Cactus League Game 13, Rangers at Mariners
King Felix vs. Colby Lewis, *1:05*pm
Note the time change, as everyone but Arizona sprang forward this morning.
Sorry for the service interruption yesterday, but I decided to hang out with family in lieu of previewing the M’s day/night split-squad doubleheader. Correlation isn’t causation or anything, but perhaps the M’s felt liberated by not being subjected to so much scrutiny by a remote blogger. They annihilated the Giants 18-3, and then dispatched the Dodgers in the nightcap, 8-5. The offensive stars were just about too numerous to count, but Jesus Montero hit two (opposite field) HRs in the second game, while Brad Miller and Michael Saunders took Ryan Vogelsong deep in the early game.
Today’s game is a tune-up for Felix, who got great results in his first spring outing, but was disappointed in his own stuff – particularly his change-up. We’ll see if it looks any different today. Colby Lewis continues his comeback attempt for Texas. The righty underwent hip surgery mid-way through the 2012 and missed all of 2013 rehabbing. He pitched one game in the Cactus League, and the results weren’t pretty. Lewis explained that his stride length has changed/improved since the surgery, but that’s changed where his release point needs to be, and he’s yet to align the two. Lewis made an improbable and effective return from the Japanese leagues in 2010, armed with newfound command and a much-improved slider/cutter. Before he went down in 2012, he’d started to mix in more curveballs. We’ll see if he’s changed his repertoire or if he just fires in fastballs to try and find his mechanics (his FB velo, which wasn’t high to begin with, was dropping to 87 or so by the time he hit the DL).
The bigger story on the day concerns the M’s continued search for another right-handed bat. Bob Dutton (who replaced Ryan Divish at the TNT, and who’s been great thus far) linked to this story from Chicago that the M’s have approached the White Sox about RH left fielder Dayan Viciedo. The Cuban broke into the top league in his native country at age 15, and had a brilliant age-16 (!) season, hitting for average and power with Villa Clara. He (and his family) defected in 2008, and the White Sox won the bidding war for him later that year. He’s played in 338 big league games in his career, but he’s been roughly replacement level in that time frame, held back by poor OF defense and a very low walk rate. That said, he turns 25 tomorrow, so there’s potential for him to develop a bit. The White Sox play in a HR-friendly park, but Viciedo hasn’t noticed – he’s hit one more HR on the road, and he’s hit much better on the road than he has at home. The real story, as you peruse his splits page, concerns the platoon advantage. He’s been a good hitter versus lefties, where his power and contact skills easily make up for his lack of patience. Against righties, he’s been…bad. As a platoon bat, he makes a bit of sense, particularly if a lefty hitter went to Chicago in the deal. But while the M’s would be a solid line-up against lefties with Hart/Viciedo in the line-up, I don’t know that pitchers would appreciate having both of them in the OF at one time.
1: Ackley, LF
2: Bloomquist, 2b
3: Seager, 3B
4: Smoak, 1B
5: Hart, RF
6: Morrison, DH
7: Zunino, C
8: Saunders, CF
9: Miller, SS
SP: King Felix