Spring training is just weeks away and the nations eye turns toward a beloved game that has taken some punches but still continues to hold a place in our hearts. The Seattle Mariners have made some exciting offseason moves and fans across the city wait in expectation of what the coming year holds in store for the heart filled organization.
Pitchers and catchers reported on Feb 12th and the full squad reported three days later. The Mariners are going through the preparatory stages for the coming year as we speak and will be kicking off the 26-game spring schedule on Feb 22nd with a three game series against the San Diego Padres.
The Padres have had quite a few injury setbacks and will be unlikely to field their “A” team during this stint against the Mariners.
With Cameron Maybin (wrist) and infielder Logan Forsythe (knee) joining Andrew Cashner, who had surgery to repair a lacerated tendon in his right thumb, on the list of Padre injuries, the Padres are more focused on having their team healed and ready to play for opening day of the regular season, than they are being winners in the spring.
That being said, the Mariners should be able to take this series and get themselves off to a positive start.
After the Padres series the Mariners will host the Angels for one game on Feb 25th.
This should be a great spring training game that will immediately challenge the Mariners organization in all areas. Facing off against the early World Series favorites will give management a chance to work and evaluate the pitching staff against a poisonous lineup that could be the wrecking ball of the MLB in 2013.
Games at Milwaukee, Cleveland, and San Francisco for one game each caps off the February card with some teams that are very capable of throwing the lumber around in a big way.
March comes filled with games that will give the Mariners a chance to work the rotation and probe for overall team ability and synergy, during a spring training stretch that will include three dates where the ballclub will play split squad games against the Royals and A’s on March 7th, and on the 15th, in which they play the Angels and a team to be announced.
March 17th will be the last split squad game of the spring, versus the Texas Rangers.
One of the more notable match ups will be the March 2nd and 9th games against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
These games will be a test for the pitching staff of the Mariners, as they will be facing a big bat lineup the likes of:
Adrian Gonzales – .294 AVG, 213 HR, 750 RBI (Career)
Matt Kemp – .295 AVG, 151 HR, 526 RBI (Career)
Andre Either – .290 AVG, 129 HR, 535 RBI (Career)
Hanley Ramirez – .298 AVG, 158 HR, 526 RBI (Career)
Carl Crawford – .292 AVG, 118 HR, 667 RBI (Career)
Even though this is spring training, expect the competitive level to be high and an almost playoff-like atmosphere to go along with it for both of these games.
The match ups on March 18th (Athletics) and 19th (Giants) will be circled on the calendar most assuredly.
The Athletics came into their own last season and displayed a tenacity for pulling out big wins. By putting together a late run in a season in which they had no .300 hitter and mediocre pitching, they managed to win the division.
It will be interesting to see if the A’s can carry that magic over to the 2013 season, particularly in this early spring divisional game. If you read my 2013 MLB predictions you will remember that I have the Mariners and A’s with 91 wins each.
The Mariners face the Giants twice in March, but it is the game on the 19th that stokes my interest the most. This game will be the last of an eight game campaign that ends with a face off against the 2012 World Series Champions.
This game will not only be a challenge for the players, but management as well.
Seattle fans should get a good idea of how well the managers are communicating with the players during this game.
Danny Hultzen and Taijuan Walker along with Carter Capps and Brandon Mauer, instantly elevate this pitching staff up a notch from 2012, and it will be exciting to see them go head to head against some of the deadliest hitters in the MLB.
Look for a productive spring from the Mariners along with greater achievement in the coming 2013 regular season.
With the huge Felix Hernandez contract signing during the off-season, the Mariners are poised to surprise many critics and I think deserve serious consideration with their chances to win the division title.