Having reached the first of three scheduled off days this spring, and 11 games into a 35-game spring schedule, it seems like a good time to look at where things stand. Here are the players who I see as locks to make the team (excluding injuries, of course) C Jesus Montero 1B Justin Smoak 1B/DH Kendrys Morales 2B Dustin Ackley SS Brendan Ryan 3B Kyle Seager IF Robert Andino OF Michael Morse OF Michael Saunders OF Franklin Gutierrez OF Raul Ibanez SP Felix Hernandez SP Hisashi Iwakuma SP Joe Saunders RP Tom Wilhelmsen RP Charlie Furbush That’s 16 players. In the category of virtual lock, I’d put: C Kelly Shoppach (Ostensibly, he’s battling Ronny Paulino for the backup job, but I don’t think it’s much of a battle. For one thing, Shoppach is on the 40-man roster, and Paulino isn’t. For another, manager Eric Wedge has a history with Shoppach and likes him. It’s just not in the cards for Mike Zunino to make the team, both for reasons of development and service time). RP Oliver Perez RP Josh Kinney That brings the total to 19, leaving six spots open — and some very interesting battles. Two spots, of course, will go to starters rounding out the rotation. I think Jon Garland is making a good case for himself. The key will be how his surgically repaired shoulder holds up to the rigors of increased usage. Same with Jeremy Bonderman, but he’s a longer shot after missing two years from Tommy John surgery. Erasmo Ramirez and Blake Beavan are obviously strong candidates. And there are still the kids. I was very impressed with Danny Hultzen in his early appearances, in which he was dominant at times, but we don’t know how much of a setback his hip injury will be. If it’s truly as minor as he believes, Hultzen would miss about a week and still have plenty of time to make his case. Brandon Maurer has been impressive so far. James Paxton could still put some thoughts in their head I don’t think this is Taijuan Walker’s time yet, because of his youth and ongoing efforts to develop his off-speed pitches. Tremendous raw tools, but still not polished enough for the majors. In other words, at this point, I don’t think anything is close to being resolved. As for Hector Noesi, I don’t even see him being in the mix at all.
A quick look at where Mariners stand in roster battles
Seattle Times | Mar 6