Fringe Roster Guys
Spring is a time for some ball players to fight for their careers. This is how they can get on the map and perhaps springboard themselves onto a major league roster. It’s also a time to separate the “haves” from the “have nots.” Here are some spring invitees that are fighting for their roster lives.
The big, burly Venezuelan was signed just a few weeks ago. Unlike many of the non-roster invitees, Machi has several seasons of MLB experience under his belt. This could give him an upper hand as he competes for a bullpen spot. He was a main cog in the bullpen for the San Francisco Giants’ 2014 World Series championship team. He did not appear in the bigs last season, pitching in 48 games with a 3.65 ERA in Triple-A.
Venditte’s story is well known. And it’s a good one. The first full-time switch-pitcher in the major leagues. He came to the Mariners last season from Toronto in an August trade. He made seven appearances for the M’s, with a 6.08 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings. Obviously there is some room for improvement here. Venditte is basically two relievers in one. If he can show improvements in the spring (his splits were far more favorable as a lefty), he should be a good bullpen option for Seattle in 2017.
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If that name sounds familiar to you, it may be because for the span of two or three years back in 2007-2009, he was one of, if not the best hitting pitcher in the big leagues. As a starting pitcher for the Diamondbacks in 2007, he went 8-8 with a 4.30 ERA. Perhaps more impressively, he also collected 20 hits, posted a .333 batting average and hit four home runs. He has 9 career home runs. He has not appeared in a major league game since 2012. He last pitched professionally in 2014 with Double-A Jacksonville. He certainly has an uphill battle to make this team or perhaps even start in Triple-A.
Time could be running out for Steve Baron and his hopes of being a catcher in a Mariners uniform. Two things are working against him. One is that Mike Zunino is the anointed catcher of the future, so long as he can hit higher than his body weight. The other is that Baron has been in the Mariners’ system since 2009 and has only played a part of one season in Triple-A. He is a lifetime .234 hitter with 26 home runs in 8 seasons in the minors, mostly in Double-A. If he has an impressive spring, he could challenge for the Triple-A catcher’s spot and be the “third” catcher in the organization.
Remember not to fret too much over wins and losess in February and March. The things to root for are that the team stays healthy and that the players who need to bounce back show improvement. Relax and just enjoy baseball again!