Jon Garland makes case for spot in Seattle Mariners rotation
Jon Garland went his deepest yet in a Cactus League game as he and the Mariners prepare to discuss his future. Garland is tying to make...
Seattle Times staff reporter
PEORIA, Ariz. — Jon Garland went his deepest yet in a Cactus League game as he and the Mariners prepare to discuss his future.
Garland is tying to make the team as a non-roster invitee this spring and has an out clause in his deal that he can trigger as early as Friday if he chooses. The Mariners had wanted to see some improvement from Garland on Thursday night and he showed just that with six innings of two-run ball against the Chicago Cubs.
Several teams are said to have interest in Garland, 33, as he works back from shoulder surgery that sidelined him since the 2011 season. He gave up a pair of solo home runs to Alfonso Soriano and opposing pitcher Jeff Samardzija, but otherwise kept the ball down over his 70-pitch effort.
"I think I've shown them everything I can," Garland said, adding he expects the team's answer Friday as to whether he'll make the rotation or not. "Now the decision's on them."
Garland struck out three batters, walked just one and consistently generated the ground balls he was looking for after being roughed up by The Netherlands in an exhibition game last week.
One of the pitchers competing with Garland for a rotation spot, Erasmo Ramirez, was rocked in a late-game relief appearance. Ramirez replaced Garland in the seventh and gave up four straight hits and two runs that tied the score, then yielded a two-run homer in the eighth to Brad Nelson.
Bay is front
Jason Bay might have thought he'd seen it all when the Mariners had hit bat in the leadoff spot in the order a few times last week.
But in another new twist Thursday night, the team stuck him in center field against the Cubs. Bay, 34, hasn't played center in a big-league game since doing it for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2005, though he did play there for Team Canada in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
"It's probably not my long-term position out there, but in a pinch I can do it," Bay said.
The Mariners want to see whether Bay can play center in an emergency because if he makes the team, Casper Wells almost certainly won't. Wells is a more natural and capable center fielder than Bay, but the club already has Franklin Gutierrez there and Michael Saunders to back him up. Where things would get tricky is if Gutierrez gets hurt and something happens to Saunders while he's replacing him. Thats where an emergency center fielder would come into play and what the Mariners are weighing is whether the need to have Bay's bat around outweighs their desire to protect against injuries to two center fielders.
Bay continued to swing a hot bat Thursday with a run-scoring single and was later thrown out trying to stretch a single to a double on a line drive rocketed off the wall in left-center. The Mariners feel he can handle both outfield corners and if he does a decent enough job in center this week, it could cement his spot on the team.
"I kind of felt I had to do some things to make the team," he said.
Brendan Ryan was back in at shortstop Thursday after sitting out the past three games with a stiff neck.
Ryan figures the problem began by sleeping in a bad position. He says its unrelated to the neck issues that surfaced following an on-field collision in the second half of the 2011 season.
Those neck issues caused Ryan to have to get special orthopedic pillows.
"It's really great for pregnant women, supposedly," Ryan said.
• The Mariners made some roster moves after the game, optioning outfielder Carlos Peguero to Class AAA and re-assigning right-handed pitcher Carson Smith and infielder Nick Franklin to minor-league camp.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @gbakermariners.
Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners
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