The Mariners returned Wednesday from their last day off of spring training to good news about Jarred Kelenic, who exited Monday’s game early due to leg soreness, and Tom Murphy, who was scratched Monday with left forearm soreness. While neither are in the lineup against the Dodgers on Tuesday night, both are expected back in the lineup Thursday.
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“Jarred’s good, Tom’s good,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “They checked out fine. We just want to be super cautious this time of year where we think everybody is in pretty good shape. You get this close (to opening day) you tend to step back with a minor tweak here or there, but both guys are fine.”
Due to wet fields, there was no on-field work before the 6:40 p.m. game with the Dodgers, but both Kelenic and Murphy hit in the cages and did indeed appear fine. With the team in the final stretch coming off the off day, we have something very close to what could be the opening day lineup against Shane Beiber and the Guardians.
Mariners vs. Dodgers, 6:40 p.m.
Live coverage on Seattle Sports starts at 6:30
Julio Rodríguez, CF
Kolten Wong, 2B
Ty France, 1B
Teoscar Hernández, RF
Cal Raleigh, C
Eugenio Suárez, 3B
AJ Pollock, LF
Cooper Hummel, DH
J.P. Crawford, SS
George Kirby, SP
With the righty on the hill, you would expect to see Kelenic in left, although Servais has said Pollock will see righties who the Mariners feel are good matchups for him. While begrudgingly discussing lineup possibilities (it’s not a favorite topic) in his meeting with the media, Servais said not to expect a permanent lineup.
“I think our lineup will be very fluid,” he said. “It’s going to change. There will be some nights when Julio hits leadoff, there will be other nights he may not hit leadoff. The question might be, ‘Why did Servais not do that?’ Maybe I just woke up on the other side of the bed that day and wanted to try it. There will be a reason, just don’t have to tell everybody.”
Numbers and matchups will of course figure heavily into how the lineup is made out with some near certainties.
Julio, Ty France and Kolten Wong should hit near the top of the order. Teoscar Hernández, Eugenio Suárez and Cal Raleigh should be in the middle. What happens in games against lefty starters? Can Pollock replicate his production against lefties from last year? How is Sam Haggerty used, and does he step into the platoon role at second base in place of Dylan Moore? Who takes Moore’s open spot on the roster with him starting the season on the injured list? Do they give Kelenic a soft landing, batting him low in the order? They are a long way from a permanent order.
MLB has informed clubs that the league would make no major changes to the new pitch clock rules. After seeing the clock in use during spring training, it was determined there were small changes that needed to be made to prevent circumvention of the rules and ensure that both pitchers and hitters are given time when things happen that could take a major bite out the allotted time. That will remain 15 seconds with the bases empty and 20 seconds with runners on base, with the batter required to be “alert” with eight seconds remaining.
“I think it’s been a tougher adjustment for the hitters,” Servais said. “You call time out, feeling rushed at times and sometimes when you are in that rush mode you get in a little bit more swing mode. They just have less time to digest all the information. I think it’s affected the hitters a little more than the pitchers.”
For his part, Ty France has no problem with the new rules. When asked in a broader interview what was good in the game, aside from “everything, it’s baseball,” he pointed to the new rules as a positive.
“Honestly, I am a big fan of the pitch clock,” he said. “I do think it’s very beneficial for our game. I was watching a handful of (World Baseball Classic) games and they didn’t implement the rules that we have here in spring. The games are 3 1/2 (hours), 3:45, they take a long time. I think it’s good for us to be able to work at a pace that keeps everybody involved.”
There had been some thought that the 15/20 second clocks could be increased slightly, but MLB for now wants to see how it translates into the regular season. Turning off the clock altogether in the ninth inning when the game is often on the line seemed to be a possible consideration, but there has been no mention of slowing it down late. Servais said he would not be opposed to turning off the clock in the ninth but does not believe it will happen.
• The Mariners have had a March Madness-style ping pong tournament involving players, coaches and front office members over the past three weeks, with the final taking place during their daily meeting Wednesday afternoon. Chris Flexen bested Tommy LaStella to take the clubhouse title.
• Former UW Huskies football head coach Chris Peterson spent the day in camp and will be in the dugout with Servais during the game against the Dodgers.
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