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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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August 5, 2008 2:22 PM

Morrow sent to AAA

Posted by Geoff Baker

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You may have heard the news that Brandon Morrow has finally been optioned to Class AAA Tacoma, where he'll be groomed as a starting pitcher. I got the news 20 minutes ago, but have been driving home from the North Cascades and unable to update the blog until now.

Tacoma reliever Jared Wells will take his roster spot, for now. I don't expect that to last much longer than a few days until Ryan Rowland-Smith is ready to make a big league start. Rowland-Smith pitched the other night, so he doesn't have to be called up right away. This way, the M's have a few days to figure out whatthey'll do with the rotation and who moves to the bullpen. Is it R.A. Dickey? Or Miguel Batista? Or neither? Will they bounce Dickey and Rowland-Smith around between starting and relief? The team has to figure this out. If Batista can only get one or two of his pitches over consistently, then maybe he belongs in the bullpen to compensate for the loss of Morrow's hard-throwing arm.

Thing is, if you know you're going to bring up a starter in the next few days -- whether it's Rowland-Smith or Ryan Feierabend -- then the discussion about J.J. Putz being able to go back-to-back-to-back becomes moot. Chances of the team getting that many save opportunities in a row are slim. You might as well make the move and bite the bullet now. This way, you'll get Morrow back for a start or two before major league teams start filling their rosters with AAA players come September. Morrow striking those guys out as a starter won't mean much as far as evaluating him for next year. You want him facing major leaguers a bit in 2008.

Here's what interim GM Lee Pelekoudas had to say:

"We have long viewed Brandon as a starter,'' Pelekoudas said. "He pitched his way onto the team in 2007, giving us an opportunity to acclimate him to the Majors in a relief role and, at the start of this season, we thought his greatest value to the team in 2008 was in the bullpen.

"However, as our season progressed and it became obvious we were not going to reach the goals we had entering this year, we began internal discussions on the best time to convert Brandon back to a starting role. We believe that giving him time to stretch out in Tacoma and then, hopefully, make some starts for the big league club before spending the 2008 off-season preparing to come to camp as a starting pitcher for 2009 is the best route for his development.''

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