Morrow may not be ready for season

PEORIA, Ariz. — As the Seattle Mariners sift their healthy arms from those they’re not so sure about, their bullpen remained unsettled Thursday as they ended spring training.

One thing seems very possible, though.

Right-hander Brandon Morrow, who hasn’t rebounded well since he developed a stiff shoulder March 10, may not begin the season with the team.

Asked if Morrow would be on the opening-day roster regardless of how he pitched Thursday night at San Francisco, manager John McLaren wouldn’t say yes.

“We’re trying to see where we are with him,” McLaren said Thursday morning.

What he saw Thursday night wasn’t impressive. Morrow walked three and gave up a run in one inning after relieving R.A. Dickey, who pitchecd one-hit ball through five shutout innings.

The Mariners could put Morrow on a throwing program similar to Arthur Rhodes and Chris Reitsma, who they’ve asked to stay behind in order to build their arm strength. Reitsma hasn’t decided if he’ll follow the team’s recommendation.

“What we’re trying to do is not open the season where we’ve got concerns about the pitchers in the bullpen who are limited to what they can do,” McLaren said. “We want to have flexibility. That was the thinking behind Rhodes and Reitsma. There could be a situation like that coming up. We’re still trying to sort it out.”

Until Thursday, Morrow had pitched in only two minor league games since his last Cactus League game March 10. On Tuesday, he struggled to locate his fastball, was hit hard and lasted only 1/3 inning.

If Morrow is held back it brings the bullpen into focus, especially if the Mariners start with a 12-man pitching staff. The pen would consist of closer J.J. Putz, left-handed specialist Eric O’Flaherty, right-hander Mark Lowe, right-hander Sean Green, left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith, right-hander Dickey and right-hander Cha Seung Baek.

If the M’s decide on a six-man bullpen in order to keep an extra position player on the bench, it puts Dickey, Baek or Rowland-Smith in jeopardy.

Rowland-Smith has been the most impressive pitcher in camp and would give the M’s a needed second left-hander, but he has minor league options remaining. The M’s could send him down without the risk of losing him.

Dickey is a Rule 5 draft pick who would have to be offered back to the Minnesota Twins if he’s not with the Mariners. He’s a knuckleball thrower who has pitched well all month in Arizona and is capable of burning considerable innings both in long relief and as a starter. He also can pitch several days in a row.

Baek is out of minor league options and, while he cleared waivers last year, there’s no guarantee he will again if the M’s try to send him down. While scouts love his arm, he hasn’t been resilient and there are concerns he would need multiple days off between outings, even in long relief.

McLaren had hoped to have roster decisions made before the team left Arizona, but it isn’t likely to be set until late today at the earliest.

“We want to check on a couple of guys to see how they’re throwing,” McLaren said, indicating that Dickey, who pitched Thursday night in San Francisco, isn’t one of them. “We’re going to have to talk it over (today) after we get to Vegas.”

There’s always the possibility of adding a player via waiver claim or trade, which general manager Bill Bavasi has done each of his previous four years in the final days before the season opener.

“I don’t know about that, either,” McLaren said. “We don’t talk about trades.”

Felix’s final tuneup: Like so many other starters at spring training, the numbers weren’t impressive for Felix Hernandez on Thursday — nine hits (including two homers) and three runs in five innings.

Hernandez, however, said he felt great and is ready for the regular season. He’ll pitch Tuesday night against the Rangers.

“I’m ready for business,” he said.

So were the Padres, who were hacking at the first pitch they saw, not surprising on the final day of spring training by players eager to move on. Scott Hairston homered on the second pitch of the game and the next seven Padres swung at the first pitch Hernandez threw them.

“Before I realized it, I’d given up a run already,” Hernandez said. “Then I started to mix my pitches and it worked. My breaking pitches were good and my changeup was unbelievable.”

Despite a laid-back day at the ballpark — with most of the Mariners already having departed for Thursday night’s game at San Francisco and the lineup filled with minor leaguers — Hernandez said he pitched with his usual intensity.

“The intensity was there for me,” he said. “Every time I go on the mound, it’s like good fortune for me.”

Crunched by numbers: Jose Lopez was among Mariners hitters handed a statistics sheet showing his batting average last year in various ball-strike counts.

He batted .362 with an 0-0 count, .333 at 2-0 count and .320 at 0-1. But he also was _ gulp! _ .083 with a 3-1 count.

That’s supposedly a great hitter’s count, a time when he should concentrate on a pitch and a location where he can drive the ball hard. What the .083 average at 3-1 revealed, however, was that Lopez jumped at too many pitches he couldn’t drive.

“I saw a couple of numbers that surprised me,” Lopez said. “But when you’re batting, you don’t think about that paper.”

That may be true, but the Mariners are asking Lopez, along with other free swingers in their lineup, to be more patient and put together smarter at-bats.

Ichiro Suzuki, for example, batted .464 with a 2-0 count, .362 with a 2-1 count and .308 at 3-1.

Of note: Jarrod Washburn and Miguel Batista, who will start next Friday and Saturday in Baltimore, will split the innings in Saturday’s final exhibition against the Cubs in Las Vegas. … Besides Hernandez, one of the highlights of Thursday’s 10-10 tie was a ninth-inning home run by right fielder Greg Hallman, a highly regarded prospect who hit 16 homers last year for the Everett AquaSox. … The Mariners said Monday’s season opener is a sellout, but plenty of tickets remain for games Tuesday and Wednesday in the three-game opening homestand. … McLaren said Willie Bloomquist, who battled a tight quad the past two weeks, was back to 100 percent. He played shortstop Thursday afternoon. … The Mariners announced that catcher Wei Wang has been assigned to the Class A High Desert Mavericks. Wang, 29, becomes the first baseball player from China to make a full-season minor league club. He has played 10 years of pro ball in China. … Even though the Mariners have left Peoria, their long-season minor league teams will play games through Sunday before leaving to open their seasons late next week with High Desert, Appleton, West Tennessee and Tacoma. Players with the Everett AquaSox, Pulaski (Va.) Mariners and Peoria Mariners will continue with extended spring training here until their seasons begin in mid-June.

Read Kirby Arnold’s blog on the Mariners at

Talk to us

More in Sports

Austin Roest prepares to take a wrist shot during the first day of Silvertips training camp on Thursday, August 31, 2023, at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Dad is an NHL bigwig, but Silvertips’ Roest carving his own path

The 19-year-old forward and son of Stanley Cup-winning executive Stacy Roest leads the Silvertips into the 2023-24 season.

Lakewood High School.
Refs blown call means Lakewood football game will restart in 3rd quarter

The Cougars dispute an incorrectly spotted ball by officials on a penalty-riddled play in the 3rd quarter. The game will resume from that point in Week 10.

A Lake Stevens player reacts to a goal during a girls soccer game between Glacier Peak and Lake Stevens at Glacier Peak High School in Snohomish, Washington on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023. Lake Stevens won, 2-1. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
GALLERY: Lake Stevens opens league play with victory over GP

The Vikings get goals from Zoe Hopkins and Olivia Fast in a 2-1 win over the Grizzlies.

Arlington junior quarterback Leyton Martin throws a short pass during the second quarter of the season opener against Kamiak on Friday, Sep. 1, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
3 games to watch in Week 4 of the prep football season

An in-depth look at the best games the area has to offer, plus a full schedule of the local action in Week 4.

Prep roundup for Thursday, Sept. 21

Prep roundup for Thursday, Sept. 21: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for Sept. 11-17

The Athlete of the Week nominees for Sept. 11-17. Voting closes at… Continue reading

Longtime Edmonds School District wrestling coach John Casebeer was also a member of the Snohomish County Wrestling Officials Association for 27 years. (County Sports Hall of Fame photo)
County Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 bio: John Casebeer

The 1963 Edmonds graduate spent 30 successful years as a wrestling coach in the Edmonds School District.

Monroe junior quarterback Blake Springer looks for an open receiver on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022 in Monroe, Washington. (Katie Webber / The Herald)
Week 4 prep football leaderboard

A look at the area’s top passers, rushers and receivers through three weeks of the season.

Prep roundup for Wednesday, Sept. 20

Prep roundup for Wednesday, Sept. 20: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Most Read