Calling 911

It’s the second day of training camp and  the M’s reported the signing of Fernando Rodney after passing his physical. Rodney provides some instant oomph to a bullpen that was mostly in disarray last year.  They also added minor league invitees Randy Wolf and Zach Miner to those competing for the remaining bullpen jobs.

We should be cheering and leaping up and down that Spring Training has begun, the M’s have made some interesting moves in the off season, with possibly more to come, but the big stories out of camp involve unexpected injuries this team simply cannot afford as it is currently constructed.

Yesterday we got the news Hisashi Iwakuma is out 4-6 weeks with a sprained tendon in the middle finger of his throwing hand.  He will miss all of his spring training starts and likely won’t be available to pitch for the Mariners until early May. The M’s are already pretty thin in the rotation.  That leaves Felix Hernandez as the only sure member. The other four spots are up for grabs with Scott Baker returning from injury, youngsters Taijuan Walker, James Paxton and Erasmo Ramirez, and not ready for prime time pitchers Brandon Maurer, Hector Noesi, and Blake Beaven in the competition.

In the red-flashing light department, News Tribune writer Bob Dutton tweeted  pitcher Taijuan Walker has reported a sore shoulder to the Mariners brass.

Unless the M’s delve into the ample resources still available on the free agent market, I smell disaster of Titanic proportions.  Imagine the M’s rotation last year-Felix, Kuma, Saunders, Harang, Maurer/Ramirez. If that doesn’t make you shiver, imagine it without Iwakuma.  Nightmare on Edgar Martinez Drive.

Today the happy talk is that with Rodney’s signing the M’s had to make room on the 40 man roster.  The gone man is none other than outfielder Franklin Gutierrez.  Guti has put himself on the restricted list, meaning he won’t be able to play in 2014.  It seems his IBS has once again manifested itself and made it impossible for him to play baseball this year. It could mean Gutierrez’s once-promising career is over.  I’m sure it is disappointing to that young man who has so much talent, and to those of us who loved watching him play.

The effect is a further thinning of what was an already weak outfield. At the present time the Mariners have Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley, Abraham Almonte, Corey Hart and Logan Morrison available to play outfield.  I’ve already recounted the poverty of the current Mariners’ outfield.  Though it was unlikely he would have been a full time player, Gutierrez offered some outfield depth and another right-handed bat. Though it’s nice to know now  this has happened instead of a month from now, there are few outfielders available without trading a valuable commodity.

To make matters more interesting, the M’s have, apparently put talks with Nelson Cruz on hold, reports Chris Cotillo on the MLB Daily Dish.

Short of pitching, shorter in the outfield, all that’s missing is a plague cart and a funny little man shouting “Bring out your dead!!”

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