Cactus League Game 27, Mariners at Padres
JA Happ vs. Andrew Cashner again, 1:05pm, Root TV
These two faced off five days ago, and while neither was sharp, Happ was concerningly bad. Earlier this spring, I said he needed to focus much more on his four-seamer and throw a lot fewer of the sinkers that righties have enjoyed since Happ learned the pitch in 2010. Well, he tried that last game and it didn’t go terribly well. It’s a truism that the same approach in Arizona may not produce the same results as it would in Seattle, but I’m sure it’d help Happ’s confidence to have a solid game today. Seth Smith was a late scratch today, and that’ll afford us the chance to get a look at Alex Jackson, the M’s #1 or #2 prospect, who gets the start in Smith’s place. Jackson even gets Smith’s line-up slot.
1: Ruggiano, CF
2: Jackson, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Seager, 3B
5: Weeks, DH
6: Morrison, 1B
7: Ackley, LF
8: Zunino, C
9: Ascanio, SS
The M’s optioned lefty Roenis Elias to Tacoma today, formally ending the battle for the 5th spot in the rotation (a battle that seemed all but over a few weeks ago). By sending him to AAA, they can keep Elias stretched out; keeping him around as another situational lefty or swingman always seemed like a waste, and I’m glad the M’s agreed. Bob Dutton speculates that they could use Elias as a kind of sixth starter to manage innings for Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, both of whom had injury issues in 2014.
As many of you know, M’s pitching prospect Victor Sanchez died last night in Venezuela, roughly a month after he suffered a head injury while swimming in Carupano. The 20-year old suffered skull fractures and brain injuries, but early reports were – given the context here – somewhat positive. Perhaps it was his age, perhaps it was just optimism, but I somehow thought he’d survive this. My thoughts are with his family, including his new wife. The M’s statement mentioned that he was quiet, but popular amongst his teammates. It’s been amazing to see all of the comments from those teammates on Twitter. Sanchez famously threw a no-hitter for Clinton the day his mother arrived from Venezuela to see him pitch professionally for the first time. His size (6′ or a bit less, 260-280 lbs.) made him something of an anomaly, and many ranked hurlers with “projectable” frames above Sanchez, but he’d fought AA to a draw last year at the age of 19. But beyond the stats or age-relative-to-league, Sanchez seemed to make the organization a bit better simply by being a part of it. RIP.