By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
PEORIA, Ariz. — General manager Jack Zduriencik isn’t closing the door on efforts to bolster the Mariners’ roster — far from it, actually — but he agrees the Mariners are in the let’s-see-what-we’ve-got phase of spring camp.
“I could have already done a couple of deals,” he said. “I didn’t want to do them. I wanted to figure out what we had. … I want to see our players with our own eyes.
“Let’s let a whole new coaching staff put their hands on them, get their opinions, and we’ll see. There will be opportunities if we want to do something. Not that we will, but I think they’ll exist.”
The Mariners open a 33-game spring schedule Thursday against San Diego at the Peoria Sports Complex.
“Our ears are wide open,” Zduriencik said. “You’d always like to make your club better. Would we like to add another pitcher? Sure, we would, but we want to see what have, too.
“Would we like to add another position player? Yeah, if it’s the right fit. But we’ve got guys out here who I hope are saying, ‘Hey, watch me!’ That’s the important thing we need to see out of this camp.”
Walker playing catch-up
While right-handed pitcher Taijuan Walker reported no shoulder soreness, again, on the day after his second bullpen workout, he remains on a go-slow program.
Pitching coach Rick Waits said Walker will throw two, and possibly three. more bullpen workouts before advancing to live batting practice. Most of the pitchers already have thrown to hitters in live BP.
“He says he feels great,” Waits said. “He’s mapped all the way out. We’ve got enough time to get him ready.”
Right-hander Brandon Maurer, a possible fit in the rotation or the bullpen, was scratched from a scheduled session of throwing live batting practice after awakening with tightness in his back. Maurer said the problem stemmed from sleeping wrong and is not serious. He was scheduled to be re-examined prior to today’s workout.
This is no surprise, but Zduriencik strongly indicated the loser in the shortstop battle between Brad Miller and Nick Franklin is likely headed to Class AAA Tacoma.
“It would be unfair to a young kid to put him in a backup role (on the big-league club),” Zduriencik said. “That would be my thought right now, but you never know what is going to happen.
“I just think with young players, it would be unfair not to let them have their at-bats, and to play in the field, every single day to have a chance to get better. We’ll let these guys battle at shortstop and see what happens.”
Hitting coach Howard Johnson hobbled through Friday’s workout after suffering a broken toe when hit by a line drive Thursday in the batting cage.
Johnson is in his first year as the Mariners’ big-league hitting coach after filling that role last season at Tacoma. He was the New York Mets’ hitting coach from 2007-10.