Spring Training Update, March 19th

Good afternoon from Peoria!

This morning at 10am the Mariners minor leaguers had two intrasquad games on the back fields. A- took on A+ and AA took on AAA.

Below in the picture gallery you can see both lineups and who participated.

Notes from the game
There was a bigger crowd than usual for a minor league game and it was partly because of the big league team playing at night and Joe Saunders pitched for AA and Jesus Montero caught for AA. Taijuan Walker started opposite Saunders for the AAA side. Jackson won the game 4-2.

Amongst those in attendance were GM Jack Zduriencik, Manager Eric Wedge, Amateur Scouting Director Tom McNamara, broadcasters Rick Rizzs and Shannon Drayer.

Saunders pitched in the minor league game in order to stay on normal rest. He threw 78 pitches in 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 8 hits, with 2 walks and 8 strikeouts.


Taijuan Walker

Taijuan Walker

Taijuan Walker started for the AAA club and was solid. He allowed 1 run on 1 hit in 3.0 IP, walking none and striking out 5. He faced Jesus Montero twice and got him to ground out and strike out looking. The only run he allowed was a solo home run to young speedster Jabari Blash.

After the outing Walker said:

“I feel really good this spring. I was a little disappointed coming down from major league camp, but I am trying to make the most of the opportunity…I felt good today, I made the one mistake on the home run, but everything seemed to be working.”

Taijuan mixed his pitches well and was 92-96 with his fastball. His curveball has great bite and struck out 3 hitters.

James Paxton came in for the next 3 innings and struggled a bit. In 3.0 IP he allowed 1 run on 4 hits, walking none and striking out 3. He did throw 3 wild pitches and plunked a batter.

James Paxton

James Paxton

Paxton has struggled with command this spring leading some to believe he might be hurt, but he says he is okay.

Brian Moran pitched a scoreless inning for the Tacoma club and struck out 1. He continues to pitch well.

Tyler Burgoon pitched 3 innings for the AA group and while I didn’t see his line, he seemed to pitch really well.

At the plate
Denny Almonte had an RBI triple against Joe Saunders in the 2nd inning and picked up where he left off the day before. Almonte blasted a homer Monday against the Padres AAA.

John Hicks had the highlight of the day in the 8th inning with an inside the park home run to center. Francisco Martinez got burned on the line drive and stumbled a bit. Hicks showed his great speed and circled the bases for a 2-run inside the park homer for the AA crew.

Julio Morban after lighting the world on fire came back to earth a bit Tuesday, striking out 3 times against Joe Saunders.

James Jones had a single in the 4th and stole second easily against Montero. Jones also threw out Blash tagging from third base from RF late in the game. Has a really nice arm. (I really like Jones)

Scott Savastano quietly had a couple of singles in the game.

Alex Liddi legged out a triple in the third inning against Saunders

Young 21-year-old  prospect Ji-Man Choi, injured himself on a ground out running over the first base bag. It appeared like he twisted his ankle. Hopefully he is okay. The kid has a world of potential.

Felix’s Fiesta
After the intrasquad games today, Felix Hernandez bought a huge spread of food for the minor league side. It was quickly named Felix’s Fiesta. He catered Famous Dave’s BBQ and spent who knows how much on it. But, hey with that new contract, he can afford it.

Walk Thru
In the afternoon I took a chance to walk through the big league clubhouse and catch up with some former Jackson guys. Pretty crazy walking into a major league clubhouse and recognizing so many faces. I’ll be putting together some promos with former players that will run on Generals’ radio broadcasts and on the video board this season.

Quote of the Day
Tacoma News Tribune Mariners beat writer Ryan Divish was asked by the Mariners nutritionist if she was in the right place when she walked into the media room. His response: “You can be in here, but I’m pretty sure there hasn’t been a nutritionist come into this room in a long time”

What’s on tap
This afternoon I’m hoping to catch big league batting practice and then settle in for the game tonight. It will be a lot of fun seeing Brandon Maurer face off against Barry Zito under the lights. Maurer by the way has this goatee thing going right now. Just a heads up if you watch the game tonight.

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