Today's contest against the Kansas City Royals was billed as a championship of sorts, and unfortunately, it was the Royals who took all the Cactus League glory. After falling behind 4-1 early in the game, KC exploded for six runs against Jeremy Bonderman in the fifth, later tacking on four more to win 11-6. The victory puts the Royals 4.5 games ahead of Seattle in the standings and locks up the league title.
The Mariners rolled out most of their regulars, sitting only Jesus Montero and Michael Saunders. Tom Wilhelmsen and Oliver Perez both pitched in relief of Bonderman, with the closer tossing two innings. I doubt we'll see it happen often, but I hope to see Wilhelmsen throw multiple innings occasionally this year. He's pitched well in longer stints before and I like seeing managers get creative with their bullpens.
To the bullets!
- Bonderman made his final start of the spring, and it's an outing that the former Tiger would love to have back. After cruising through the first four innings, Bonderman tired in the fifth. His fastball velocity tumbled to the mid-80's and he allowed six runs in the frame. He was pulled in the sixth, and afterwards he admitted that he was fatigued, lamenting that it was "definitely the wrong day to have it happen." He sounded deflated while speaking to the media, and I have to say, I feel bad for the guy.
Bonderman's odds of cracking the rotation were always long, but today's start is probably the nail in the coffin. Brandon Maurer and Blake Beavan will almost certainly make the rotation now, relegating Bonderman to Triple-A duty, where he again has an uphill climb to reach the majors. I'm rooting for him, in the sense that I don't really root against any Mariner, but Bonderman's best chance to get back to the big leagues was to make the club out of spring training. He's not on the 40 man roster, and unless turns his season around quickly, it's hard to imagine he'll stay ahead of Erasmo Ramirez, Danny Hultzen, and James Paxton on the depth chart for long.
- Assuming that Bonderman is out, the roster is now pretty much set. With Kameron Loe now a lock for the bullpen, the only battle remaining is between Jason Bay and Casper Wells for the role of fourth outfielder. Logan has already talked about the competition, and I think Jon has another post coming up about this well, so I'll refrain from delving into this too deeply. That said, the idea that the Mariners might part ways with Wells to keep a mediocre defensive corner outfielder who hasn't hit since 2009, even with an injury-prone Franklin Gutierrez on the roster, remains just as nutty to me as it was in January.
- In today's episode of "Michael Morse Hits a Stupidly Far Home Run," Morse took Tim Collins deep to center field in the seventh inning. Into the wind. Over the thirty foot fence. I'm going to be disappointed if he doesn't hit a couple balls into the second deck this year.
- When I read today's game preview, I thought Logan was spotting Kansas City's starter Sugar Ray Marimon a nickname. As it turns out, Sugar Ray Marimon is the pitcher's full name, and since I like saying/typing it so much, I decided to give Sugar Ray Marimon his own bullet point.
- It also turns out that you can earn a win in spring training without throwing five innings, as Sugar Ray Marimon did after allowing four runs in four and a thirds innings today.
- I haven't tuned into the radio broadcast much this season, so this was actually my first day listening to new broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith. Like many this winter, I was disappointed when the gig didn't fall to Rainier broadcaster and full time good guy Mike Curto, who has more than paid his minor league dues in Tacoma.
That said, I liked Goldsmith. He has a great baseball voice, speaks smoothly, and already works well with Rick Rizzs. I still think Curto is a terrific broadcaster, but I'm on board with Goldsmith, and am looking forward to hearing him throughout the season.