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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 24, 2008 9:07 AM

Balentien, Woods cut

Posted by Geoff Baker

morse 002.jpg

A look above at Mike Morse, working the hot corner this morning with one week to go until the Mariners open their season. The season being so close means it's time for more cuts. Outfielder Wladimir Balentien was the biggest name optioned to Class AAA Tacoma this morning. Catcher Rob Johnson is joining him there as well.

Lefthanded pitcher Jake Woods, who opened some eyes down in camp, was reassigned to the team's minor league camp.

Balentien could be called up by the team at some point this summer.

"He's a young kid learning the strike zone and we want him playing every day,'' Mariners manager John McLaren said, later adding that "to me, he mirrors (Jeff) Clement. We don't want those guys sitting around as extra players. We want them playing on a regular basis and if we need him, he'll be ready.''

It's looking less and less likely that the team's roster will be set by the time it leaves Peoria on Thursday. One reason is the two rehabbing right handers, Chris Reitsma and Mark Lowe. The latter will pitch his second straight game today, while the former goes today and tomorrow.

One of the two is likely to make the squad. Left hander Arthur Rhodes is also rehabbing an elbow injury, but not as far along as the other two.

morse 001.jpg

That's why Rhodes will not throw in back-to-back games this spring and won't break camp with the big-league club -- even if the team goes with a 12-man pitching staff, which is looking more and more likely. Expect to see Rhodes up with the team at some point, though, perhaps by May as has long been targetted as his date to be ready to pitch in games.

My guess on the bullpen?

It will go J.J. Putz, Brandon Morrow, Eric O'Flaherty, Sean Green, Chris Reitsma, R.A. Dickey and Ryan Rowland-Smith.

But that's just a guess. McLaren likes his veteran guys and I think he'd take Reitsma over Lowe to start with, all things being equal. The team does not want to rush Lowe, who they consider a true talent.

As for Rowland-Smith, he brings an option from the left side that has picked up innings at the major league level before. I see Cha Seung-Baek as more of a starter, not a guy who can come into a game in the fifth inning and take it from there. Rowland-Smith may not be a veteran, but he's handled this role in the majors before and done it well. And I think that will carry weight with the team. A fine spring by Rowland-Smith leaves no reason for pause. I think he'll make it, unless the M's go with only 11 pitchers.

And given the uncertainty surrounding Morrow, I just can't see that happening. Not for the sake of keeping an extra bench guy. At least, not yet.

As for Dickey, he might be one of the reasons the team doesn't name its roster right away. McLaren said this morning that he wants to see Dickey employ his slow knuckleball in the thicker air of San Francisco. Apparently, the thin air in Arizona, which has impacted most Mariners pitchers who rely on movement to get by, had prevented Dickey from using it until now.

Dickey experiemented with the slower knuckleball against the Angels yesterday, using it to strike out Garrett Anderson. Moments ago, Dickey told us that it was really the first time all spring he's shown the slower pitch to anyone. He wants to use it as a weapon, saying it will be a tremendous addition. But he's balked at throwing it in Arizona, saying he needed results in order to make this team and knows it's too flat in the thinner air to fool hitters consistently.

Hear the entirety of what Dickey said right here.

So, that means there might not be any decision on the long guys until Thursday night, another reason why setting the roster before leaving Peoria looks less likely. Although, I must say, my hunch is that McLaren already knows he's bringing Dickey north. He's seen plenty already. While a successful slow knuckleball on Thursday might represent the cherry on the whipped cream, I don't see him chucking the entire sundae if Dickey has one bad outing.

morse 003.jpg

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Posted by scrapiron

9:20 AM, Mar 24, 2008

If the Mariners do go with a 12-man pitching staff, which is looking likely, then Greg Norton will probably get cut. Has McLaren confirmed that Norton is on the bubble for the final roster spot?

Posted by Paul

9:57 AM, Mar 24, 2008

DIckey can throw almost every day if needed with that knuckler...that in itself is of great value. If the guy can keep an ERA under 4 while eating those inning, well, icing on the cake. He's a shoe-in to make the team.

Posted by nick

10:00 AM, Mar 24, 2008

Typical bavasi blunder. I just hope it doesnt hurt as much as i am positive it will.

Posted by eternal

10:07 AM, Mar 24, 2008

what happens to Baek then? Will he be traded as he is out of options?

Posted by ET90210

10:13 AM, Mar 24, 2008

This is GREAT!! An NCAA-tourney style bracket of bad offseason MLB trades/signings! haha

http://mlbfleecefactor.com/2008/03/24/the-2008-sweet-sixteen-of-offseason-fleeces/

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

10:24 AM, Mar 24, 2008

Reitsma is not a major league pitcher. I can't understand why McLaren can't see that. Why they'd buy the notion that this is all really injury-driven is beyond me. He's been done for some time. If we see him in the bullpen, it's a sign that we are in for the same old bullpen misuse we saw in the key parts of the year last year. Chris Reitsma is done, and McLaren's love affair with veterans who can't pitch continues if he makes this team.

Posted by wally

10:30 AM, Mar 24, 2008

What is this team's problem with evaluating pitchers? Horacio was bad enough the first time, but then they resigned him? I know they cut him, but he didn't show anything in a whole season to think he was a major league pitcher. And Reitsma is the same way, the guy hasn't pitched well this spring.

Posted by MissoulaMarinerFan

11:05 AM, Mar 24, 2008

But, but, but Waaaaaallllllllllllllllyyyyyyyyyy(whiney sing-song obnoxious voice), Reitsma has "been through the wars!"...Wait, but Lowe was through the wars as well(just roughly 1 season, I think)...I guess Reitsma is a more "seasoned" war veteran...I'm gonna scream if we cut Lowe in favor of Reitsma. This looks like another "DOH" moment for the M's...

Posted by ethan

11:08 AM, Mar 24, 2008

why was Cairo brought in again? to motivate Lopez? MOTIVATION is something Lopez should have already figured out at the professional level. why not sign 25 more guys to "buddy" everyone on the team and "motivate" them.
with the season a week away i have to find some equanimity.
i do that by realizing we are not a professional organization committed to winning. we are a hubris-driven cabal of lazy middle management types who sign mediocre milquetoasts to lucrative long term contracts then stroke said players' egos with industrial strength Astro-glide.

Posted by jujay

11:09 AM, Mar 24, 2008

there wont be any cutting lowe.... they'll put him on the dl or aaa til he's completely healthy

Posted by wally

11:41 AM, Mar 24, 2008

You know what really would have motivated Lopez? Bring in a guy with talent and make him produce. Wait a minute, that's the way to get anybody motivated. But two problems with the M's during the Bavasi years: 1- guys can not perform for years and still not be worried about their jobs. 2- they bring in guys like Cairo to push former all-stars. If I'm Jose, I'm laughing at the thought that Cairo could push any starter in the majors. I mean, honestly, Cairo is a shell of Lopez, even when Lopez is slumping. Just because someone is a vet doesn't meant that they are any good! What the duece? I wonder if Bavasi is too lazy to scout other players, and so he assumes if a guy has been around a while on a couple of different teams that he must be good because teams always seem to want him. I'm getting worried, and not because they aren't playing well, but the things that the management is saying.

Posted by Patrick F.

11:48 AM, Mar 24, 2008

Is Mike Morse going to make the roster or did he already? I think he's much more serviceable utility than Willie Boom Boom or Miquel Cairo. Could he be the 4th outfielder?

Posted by ken

12:01 PM, Mar 24, 2008

I cannot believe management is going to be so stupid as to keep Reitsma, who will never amount to anything, and lose Baek, who might become a very good pitcher. Baek is already better than Reitsma and has much more upside.

Posted by Jay

12:20 PM, Mar 24, 2008

I'm curious about the Woods comment: How has he opened eyes? Granted I haven't seen him throw, and I can already hear the "don't base anything on spring numbers" argument, but looking at his box scores, nothing jumps out at me. It's the same pattern of his entire career: a servicable outing or two followed by an absolute shellacking. I think the top end of his development would be as the 11th man on the staff, an innings-eater if you will. He just doesn't seem to have the stuff to move beyond that...

Posted by AKMarinersFan

12:45 PM, Mar 24, 2008

Never fear....MAC solved the problem today by taking Morse out of the lineup and going with all Veterans. I expect 15-20 runs today.

Hey Geoff - some more great unbiased journalism...love the photo of Morse muffing the play at 3rd.

Reed is definately not showing anything recently he should be cut. Of course he has played recently but that's beside the point.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

12:50 PM, Mar 24, 2008

last post...hasn't played...sorry

Posted by Charles

12:51 PM, Mar 24, 2008

Wait, aren't the Mariner's going to have to play some games in Arizona? What about other cities that don't have "thick air?" Does that mean Dickey is going to be completely ineffective in those games? What about the other pitches? I guess that means for the Diamondbacks to be successful they have to sign a bunch of pitchers who throw balls with no movement...like...Brandon Webb...

Posted by Ziasudra

12:52 PM, Mar 24, 2008

Geoff - lineups for today?

Posted by reality3

1:16 PM, Mar 24, 2008

Geoff,

Notcied there was an article last week in the S.D. Tribune mentioning Jeremy Reed getting traded there (Padres) before ST ends. Any idea if that has some validity to it in M's camp?

Posted by Lap Dog

1:45 PM, Mar 24, 2008

Why would McLaren want Dickey to change anything about his knuckler? Sounds like he asked Dickey to experiment with the slower version yesterday (resulting in a HR and several hits). Didn't Dickey give up 6 HRs in a game as a Ranger throwing the SLOW knuckle ball? Not sure I'd tinker with anything now. His numbers have been pretty good this spring. I think I'd let Dickey decide which version he prefers and when to throw it.

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