BY Adam Lewis 06:25PM 01/23/2014

M’s Zduriencik not comfortable with rotation

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik admitted that the Mariners need to add a proven veteran to their young starting rotation.

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik has more decisions to make about his starting rotation before the offseason winds down. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik hinted Thursday that he may sign another veteran pitcher to bolster his starting rotation but added that he doesn’t plan to go after another major free agent this offseason.

Staff ace Felix Hernandez and 2013 Cy Young contender Hisashi Iwakuma will begin spring training at the top of the rotation. The other three spots remain open.

“There’s certainly potential there. Some things have to come together,” Zduriencik said at the team’s pre-spring training luncheon. “When you’re basing a lot of faith and trust in young kids that have (had) very short windows of success, that’s risky. I will say that they’re talented. But how quickly they become legitimate major league players is yet to be seen.”

Taijuan Walker, Brandon Maurer, James Paxton, Erasmo Ramirez, Blake Beavan and Hector Noesi are expected to compete for the final three rotation spots, Zduriencik said. All have pitched in the major leagues, but only Beavan has come close to spending a full season as a starter.

“There may be an opportunity in the next few days or so,” he said, “where maybe we’ll be able to add something to it. We do have a little bit of depth, which is good.”

When pressed regarding how comfortable he was with Seattle’s current staff, Zduriencik was blunt.

“Not tremendously,” he said.

Zduriencik and McClendon were more optimistic about Walker, the 21-year-old right-hander from Shreveport, LA. Walker made his major league debut in September, going 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in three starts while showcasing a fastball in the upper-90s. Thursday McClendon didn’t guarantee Walker a place in the rotation, though he was clear he expected him to start the year in Seattle.

“I’d be very disappointed if he is not,” McClendon said.

Numerous reports linked the Mariners to Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, but Zduriencik said the organization didn’t pursue him when they saw the asking price skyrocket. Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last season in Japan’s Pacific League.

Last week, the Yankees signed him to a seven-year, $155 million contract, plus a $20 million posting fee.

“I think we as an organization decided that was something we weren’t going to get involved in,” Zduriencik said. “We had interest, but then as it began to unfold, it just wasn’t something we were going to be able to do. We weren’t big players in that.”

Mariners may have a new team president

According to The Seattle Times, the Mariners have settled on a new team president and chief operating officer. It isn’t Tony LaRussa, as many fans hoped.

Per sports business reporter Geoff Baker, the organization plans to promote Kevin Mather, executive vice president of finance and ballpark operations, was chosen by CEO Howard Lincoln as the next team president.

Stephen Pryor, Danny Hultzen still recovering

Listening to Rob Nodine describe Stephen Pryor’s injury Thursday was enough to unsettle the lunch that was offered. Pryor, a reliever whose fastball can reach 100 mph, last appeared in a game April 14, 2013. Nodine said he could return to the field by the end of May. He added that Pryor sustained the same injury that nearly ended Jake Peavy’s career.

“It was first diagnosed as a lat tear. There’s only been three of them to that point that have been surgically repaired,” he said. “What it did was tear some of the tendon and it had to be tacked back down and repaired through stitching.

“There have been very few of these injuries that have been surgically repaired. It’s going depend a lot on when he ramps up his throwing progression. We’re not holding him to a timetable because we want to see how this progresses.”

Meanwhile, Danny Hultzen will begin an interval throwing program when pitchers and catchers report to Peoria Feb. 12, Nodine said. Hultzen missed most of last season after undergoing surgery to repair torn tendons in his rotator cuff. There is no timetable yet for his return.

Nick Franklin to shortstop?

The Mariners made the splashiest free agent acquisition of the offseason when they signed Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240 million contract. The only drawback was that it displaced second-year second baseman Nick Franklin.

Zduriencik said Franklin, who climbed through the Mariners organization as a shortstop, will have the chance to challenge fellow second-year player Brad Miller for the starting gig in spring training.

“I don’t have the answer for that right now,” Zduriencik said of the shortstop situation. “I could sit with Lloyd, myself and the whole coaching staff, and I don’t think any of us could tell you exactly what’s going to happen.”

Lou Piniella to HOF

Sweet Lou is coming back to Seattle. At least for one day. The team said Piniella will inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame in a pre-game ceremony Aug. 9.

Piniella managed the Mariners from 1993-2002 and went 840-711, becoming the only winning skipper in team history. He led Seattle to four playoff appearances (1995, ’97, 2000 and ’01) and three appearances to the American League Championship Series.

In 2001 the Mariners tied a major league record by winning 116 games.


  • RadioGuy

    I kind of liked Miller and Franklin up the middle last season. They weren’t quite like Trammell and Whitaker but you could see something there. Hate to see one of them sit, but they’re not going to move Cano to the outfield as was done with Alfonso Soriano (and all he did was join the 40/40 club his first year after the shift and average 30 homers the eight seasons he’s played OF).

    I understand the desire for another veteran starter, but I’d rather go with one of the young guys than suffer through another year with the likes of Aaron Harang or Joe Saunders trudging out the to mound every fifth day. Having a vet for the sake of having a vet hasn’t exactly worked out. Walker AND Paxton both looked ready last year (although September can deceive), so that might leave the fifth slot to be determined. Beavan has regressed, but Ramirez has shown signs of being effective and Maurer looked very good late in the year when he was brought back from Tacoma…Wedge handled him very well. Noesi? No way, si?

    Kevin Mather? Loved him in “Leave it to Beaver.” I’d have picked Aylward but it really doesn’t matter. All anyone with that gig has to do is say “Yes, Howard” and they’re golden.

  • just passing thru

    I’m glad Z is “not tremendously” comfortable with the starting rotation. Maybe, just maybe, it means he’s catching up with what the fan base has seen for years…

  • Bobby Ayala

    “Zduriencik not comfortable with rotation…”

    That’s because there isn’t one: “The other three spots remain open.”

    Fans not comfortable with Zduriencik, either. But we do have a rotation suggestion for Lincoln, Adamack and the rest of the F.O.

  • notaboomer

    roy oswalt & erik bedard are available.

  • jafabian

    So will Lou throw out the first pitch of that game? Or first base?

  • Skymaster T

    So, he’s comfortable with this lineup? Who’s the cleanup hitter? A guy that hasn’t played in over a year, and never in the AL? Great.

  • tedsfrozenhead

    This team might struggle mightily. One superstar surrounded by young players that have not gotten it done at this level and 3 injury prone players who between them played a little over 1/2 a season last year.

    On the other hand if the young players actually realize their potential and the injured additions can contribute this team might not look that bad. Add a bat or two and a starter and we are on our way.

    • notaboomer

      time to revive your head, put it on a body, and try it out in spring training?