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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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July 25, 2008 3:01 PM

Morrow may start in 2008

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Just when you thought things couldn't get any more confusing in the Brandon Morrow situation, Mariners manager Jim Riggleman now says the pitcher may indeed start in 2008. The way he was talking this afternoon, it's almost like he expects that Morrow will start.

In Class AAA, at least to begin. Riggleman doesn't see Morrow making a transformation out of the major league bullpen. He says the quickest way to get Morrow's arm built up would be to send him to Tacoma for two or three weeks.

It all depends on how quickly J.J. Putz grabs the closer role again. Putz has come back strong from the injury, so strong that the Mariners are now back to discussing Morrow as a starter this year. According to Riggleman, the orgnaization is split right down the middle as to whether Morrow should start now or over the winter in winter ball.

For now, Riggleman is ready to go with a Morrow-Putz combination at closer. He doesn't want to throw either guy three days in a row right now. But -- and here's the catch -- if one guy goes two days in a row, then tells Riggleman he'd like to go three, the manager will oblige. If that guy is Putz, then Morrow will likely be sent down. Even if Putz can only go back-to-back days a number of times, there's a good chance Morrow would be sent out no later than mid-August. After all, who knows when this team will see three straight closing opportunities?

"He would pitch the eighth,'' Riggleman said of Morrow in the event Putz becomes the closer. "But again, we've tossed that some point, does he go in the rotation?''

Riggleman added: "Once we get into August, we'll have a little clearer indication of where we want to go with it.''

And although Riggleman managed in winter ball before, you can tell he's not thrilled with the idea of sending Morrow back there to pitch. Neither is a significant part of the organization, apparently. Last year, when Morrow pitched in Venezuela, there were "times when people were probably holding their breath about it.''

Here's Riggleman's take on winter ball and Morrow:

"It's not that often you're getting your Brandon Morrows down there,'' he said, adding that winter ball isusually a place for top hitting prospects and lower tier starters. "You're just so leery of pitching more innings on that arm that aren't directly affecting the outcome of the Mariners.''

So, that's it for now. Let's see what happens from here.

There's been another rotation shuffle. Carlos Silva's back is still hurting him. So, R.A. Dickey goes tomorrow in his place. Jarrod Washburn goes on Sunday. Felix Hernandez throws the opener in Texas (on his regular rest) and Silva goes Tuesday.

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