Mariners' pitchers Pauley, Colome, Cordero try to make impression
David Pauley, Chad Cordero and Jesus Colome, all nonroster right-handers, hope to make a big enough impression to make the opening day roster.
Seattle Times staff reporter
PEORIA, Ariz. — Each additional day in the major-league clubhouse is a small victory, each approach by the coaching staff cause for the heart to start pounding.
For three Mariners pitchers living life on the bubble, it's hard not to keep doing the mental arithmetic, trying to devise a way that the M's could forge a spot for them on the season-opening roster.
"You try to figure it out, but it never comes out the way you figure it out in your head," said right-hander David Pauley, smiling. "You've got to kind of sit back and let what's going to happen, happen."
Pauley, Chad Cordero and Jesus Colome, all nonroster right-handers of varying major-league experience, hope they have opened the eyes of the decision-makers. All are longshots, but last-minute roster machinations have a way of creating surprises. Last year, for instance, Chris Jakubauskas emerged from similar limbo to sneak onto the M's opening day roster.
Any number of issues, many of them out of the pitchers' control, will help determine their fate. Will the Mariners keep 11 or 12 pitchers to start the season? Will Doug Fister and Garret Olson, both battling injuries, be ready to start the season? Will a late waiver-wire hurler prove more appealing to the brass at the last minute?
The fact that any of the trio would have to be placed on the 40-man roster and someone else removed correspondingly plays against them as well. They are all well aware of these facts, but hope that even if they wind up in the minors to start the year, they will be the recipient of one of the first summons when, inevitably, injury or poor performance strikes the major-league staff.
"If they send me down so I can get more innings, that's fine," Cordero said. "Missing a whole year, I'd love to make the team, but if they want me to go down to Triple-A, that's fine, too. Coming off an injury, and a tough one at that, it's been pretty hard, but I think I've done pretty well."
Cordero was an All-Star for Washington in 2006, the middle of a three-year span in which he saved 47, 29 and 37 games. But his career derailed from shoulder injuries that were capped by surgery for a torn labrum in July 2008.
Cordero pitched only 14-1/3 innings last year and still felt discomfort at times, but said he has been pain-free this year. Cordero believes he is getting close to being the pitcher he used to be, which is someone who would be an asset to any team.
"I'm pretty much almost there," Cordero said. "It's a matter of getting on the mound and facing hitters on a regular basis now. I haven't done that for two years. I think I'm pretty much there, Velocity wise, I'm close. Everything else is coming along quite well."
Cordero, 27, has pitched 6-2/3 innings this spring and has a 1.35 earned-run average.
"I like what I've seen in stints," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "He feels he's back to normal, and then he'll have a little inconsistency. He's light years from last year. He feels he's getting awfully close."
Pauley, 26, was signed by the Mariners as a minor-league free agent after stints in the San Diego, Boston and Baltimore organizations. He appeared in nine games in the majors with the Red Sox in 2006 and '08, but spent all last season at Class AAA Norfolk in the Orioles' organization, going 9-12 with a 4.37 ERA as a starter.
This spring, Pauley has six appearances, the last three of them for three innings each, setting him up as a possible long-relief candidate. He has a 4.50 ERA, allowing 11 hits in 12 innings with four strikeouts and two walks.
"I feel I've come out and done a fairly good job of what they'd want from me. Hopefully I've opened their eyes that I can compete, give them an opportunity to use a guy like me," Pauley said.
The hard-throwing Colome, 32, has considerable major-league experience, 329 games with Tampa Bay, Washington and Milwaukee. He has been a pet project of pitching coach Rick Adair, who has been refining his mechanics. Apparently, it's paying off, because Colome, in nine innings, has given up just five hits and one run, striking out 10.
"I'm happy with what I'm doing," Colome said. "The pitching coach has helped me a lot. I feel I have an opportunity to make the team, but it's not my decision."
For now, Colome and his bubble mates will keep hoping to survive another day.
• Jason Vargas took a big step toward securing a rotation spot Wednesday, working five scoreless innings in the Mariners' 2-1 loss to San Diego.
"I thought Vargas was outstanding," Wakamatsu said. "He got up to 80 pitches, and all were good. Poise, everything. There was nothing I didn't like about what he did out there."
Closer David Aardsma, however, struggled through a 31-pitch seventh in which he gave up four hits, a walk, and both San Diego runs.
"His tempo has been a little fast," Wakamatsu said.
• Reliever Shawn Kelley will start Thursday in a split-squad game against Kansas City, but Wakamatsu quickly answered "No," when asked if anything should be read into that.
There has been speculation that Kelley could be thrown into starting duty with Cliff Lee's injury and uncertainty about Doug Fister's right forearm injury. But it doesn't look to be case.
The other pitcher getting stretched out is Kanekoa Texeira, who will follow Kelley to the mound. Both could see long relief work when the season starts.
Fister, who hasn't pitched since being struck by a batted ball last Friday, threw a bullpen session Wednesday, as did Olson (jammed left ring finger). Wakamatsu said "both felt great" and would be re-evaluated Thursday.
• Erik Bedard had another long-toss session as he progresses toward being able to pitch off a mound. Lee (lower abdominal strain) will play catch again Thursday after feeling some discomfort playing catch Tuesday.
• Infielder Jack Hannahan returned from having a bone scan to evaluate his lingering groin injury. He said the scan ruled out a fractured pelvis, but added that he probably needs another test to rule out a sports hernia. "It feels better, but there's still a lot of aches and pains in there," he said.
Hannahan will almost certainly begin the year on the disabled list, along with Lee.
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