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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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March 14, 2008 10:08 AM

Reed sits and waits

Posted by Geoff Baker

bigisland08 030.jpg

One of you asked me yesterday whether Jeremy Reed (pictured above, leaving the field in the ninth inning yesterday after being caught stealing) had been hurt throughout the spring. This might explain why he's only been used sparingly compared to others like Mike Morse, Wladimir Balentien and Charlton Jimerson. The answer is no.

Why then, does Reed appear to be an afterthought at camp? Good question. Mariners manager John McLaren and GM Bill Bavasi apparently tried to answer some of that for him this morning in a closed door meeting. The meeting pushed McLaren's meeting with the media back by about 15 or 20 minutes. So, it was pretty important. There was some speculation Reed was about to get cut. Turns out, it was more to tell the player what's going on and where he fits in the grand scheme of things.

"Sometimes you see some guys dragging,'' McLaren said afterwards. "We're just being honest with everybody.''

My guess? He's going to get cut. Not now, but at some point in the next two weeks.

No, it's not always fair. Anyone who's ever played elite level sports at any age can tell you there are politics involved. Probably some of that at-play here. Reed still has Class AAA options left. Morse and Jimerson do not.

The numbers Morse is putting up, as I mentioned yesterday and Larry Stone discusses today, are probably rendering a lot of the politics moot. If the Mariners don't keep this guy, based on what I've seen, there is something seriously wrong with this team. And that's not just because of a .581 batting average. It's from talking with Morse and with others about him, like Raul Ibanez. When I spoke to Ibanez about Morse before the start of Cactus League play, Ibanez, who trained with Morse in the Fort lauderdale area this winter, told me this was a different guy he'd seen. A focused, complete professional. That doesn't mean he dresses nicely after workouts. It means he's a pro, has put aside lingering bitterness about things like sports politics, and now is going about his business. Taking care of his business, nobody else's.

Morse confirmed all of that when I spoke to him for a story nearly a month ago, right before the spring games began.

But it's one thing to say it. Quite another to go out and do it. Morse is backing up all his talk by now walking the walk. On command. Spring numbers don't mean anything, I know, we've discussed it all week. But the only time they may actually mean something is when a guy whose job is on the line needs to show something and is able to show it,

For me, that's the only reason you bother with spring games, other than to loosen up the pitchers. You don't do it so Ichiro can snap hitting slumps. You do it so guys like Morse can prove something.

McLaren tried to provide some hope for Reed in talking about him this morning.

"He has a chance to make the ballclub,'' McLaren said. "I know Morse is hitting the cover off the ball, Balentien has played well, Jimerson has stole us a bunch of bases. They all bring something different to the table. When it's all said and done , we're going to sit down and see which is the best piece for the bench.''

Spare us, Mac. At least, save the propoganda for the players who need stroking. I'll be playing center field before Reed makes this club out of spring training. And if you watched videos of Reed on this blog yesterday, tracking down three simultaneous pop-ups, you know he's far more athletic than this sore-kneed writer. And that talent and athleticism will have another year to hone itself at Class AAA. That's just where things stand. McLaren wants a right handed bat for the backup outfielder job and Reed bats left handed.

As for the other guys still trying to land a backup job, none of them were called in to meet with McLaren or Bavasi today. One of them is Greg Norton, vying for a pinch-hitter role.

Listen to what McLaren had to say about him.

"He knows how to pinch-hit, which is big,'' McLaren said. "You can't just have a guy and say 'OK, you're a bench player and you're going to pinch-hit now. Some guys are specialists in that.''

Or how about R.A. Dickey, hoping to make it as a long reliever?

"He can do any role,'' McLaren said. "He brings something to the table where you could possibly bring an extra bench player because he can pitch every day and it won't bother him."

McLaren adds: "I didn't know he threw that hard. Wakefield didn't throw near as hard as this guy does.''

Sounds a lot better for both guys than the standard "He has a chance to make this team."

Hopefully, I've answered some questions. Here are today's lineups (someone tell that Jeff Baker guy how to spell his name):

Rockies vs. Mariners

Colorado Rockies (7-7-1):

29 Scott Podsednik DH
2 Troy Tulowitzki SS
27 Garrett Atkins 3B
10 Jeff Baker RF
25 Seth Smith LF
22 Marcus Giles 2B
47 Joe Koshansky 1B
18 Cory Sullivan CF
20 Chris Iannetta C
----------------------------
56 Franklin Morales LHP

Other Pitchers:
34 Matt Herges RHP
44 Micah Bowie LHP
52 Juan Morillo RHP
61 Ramon Ramirez RHP

Seattle Mariners (6-8-1):

51 Ichiro Suzuki CF
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
28 Raul IbaƱez LF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
6 Brad Wilkerson RF
44 Richie Sexson 1B
10 Greg Norton DH
2 Kenji Johjima C
4 Jose Lopez 2B
----------------------------
43 Miguel Batista RHP

Other Pitchers:
31 Ryan Feierabend LHP
38 Jon Huber RHP
49 Jake Woods LHP
62 Cesar Jimenez LHP


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