Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Soriano Out a Month 

Rafael Soriano strained an oblique muscle and will be out at least a month. Here is the Finnigan spin.

While the injury is not a happy one, the long-term prognosis is good, as the injury is similar to the one that kept Dan Wilson out for 28 days at the end of Spring Training last year. In the meantime, it will force the coaching staff to focus even more on bullpen depth in the event that Soriano can't make it back by Opening Day.

From the various articles out there, we get confirmation from Melvin that Soriano was seen as the 8th inning setup man, and that Hasegawa will be considered for the 7th. I still would prefer to see us have more flexibility in our bullpen, and more multi-inning appearances from Shiggy and Soriano (does he have a studly nickname yet? He needs one), but it looks like the M's won't mess with the success of the Nelson/Rhodes model much this year.

The Finnigan piece had an interesting quote from Bob Melvin that seems to indicate that the M's are currently only thinking about keeping one lefty in the pen, but the injury may open a spot for a second lefty. "It could make it more important to find another left-hander ... No, we have the lefties, let's say to 'keep' another lefty." George Sherrill's ears just perked up.

Who the Execs are Watching
More interesting quotes from this must-read Larry Larue article which gives the coaches and executives picks for players to watch in camp.

- GM Bill Bavasi and Roger Jongewaard like the chances for 20-year old shortstop Jose Lopez to move to the big club this season after starting in AAA Tacoma.
- Pitching coach Brian Price wants to see if starter Craig Anderson can duplicate his minor league success on the big stage.
- Frank Mattox, the director of player development for Seattle, is watching starting pitchers Clint Nageotte, Travis Blackley, and Rhett Johnson.
- VP of Player Development Benny Looper chooses LHP George Sherrill and 3B Greg Dobbs.

"Sherrill is a left-hander we signed out of the Independent League. He was a big guy who threw hard, and he lost 40-45 pounds. He still has a bit of a dumpy body, but last year in Class AA he pitched 27 1/3 innings in relief - and allowed one run... He's 27, throws a slider, fastball and change. We need left-handed relievers. I'd love to have him have a great spring."

Sherrill's weight loss is growing by the day, and with the amount of coverage he's getting, he might be the top man to watch for moving into the M's bullpen.

"Dobbs is a 25-year-old infielder who can hit. I'm not sure what position he'll stick at, but we're going to give him a full season at third base. He had a good spring last year, then blew out his Achilles' tendon after his second game of the season. He's a left-handed hitter with a good-looking bat, a doubles hitter with a bit of power. He reminds me a bit of Robin Ventura."

Both Greg Dobbs and Justin Leone could work their way onto the Mariners bench with a big Spring. Both could play 3B, moving Spiezio to 1B when Olerud needs a rest. Leone could play other infield positions as well. I would be surprised if they made the team out of Spring, however, as both would likely better be served playing full-time and getting a call up if the team needs a jolt, or a full-time replacement for an injury.

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