It’s the final weekend of preparations as we get ready for baseball at Cheney Stadium. Tacoma Rainiers Opening Night is Tuesday and we’d love to see you at the ballpark – the early forecast is calling for dry conditions, and it will be cool as you would normally expect.
Some of the team has already arrived in Tacoma and there are workouts occurring at Cheney this weekend.
Wait a second, some of the team? Where is the rest of it?
Well, it’s a weird spring training. For the first time that I can recall, the major league season is starting after the minor league season (due to the lockout). Tacoma starts Tuesday, the Mariners start Thursday. The same day the Rainiers play their season opener, the Mariners are playing a Cactus League exhibition game.
That means the Mariners still need extra players in Arizona. Some of these guys will be Rainiers. Some are still in competition for a Mariners opening day roster spot. The Rainiers are likely to be adding a couple of players a few days into their season, once the Mariners are done with exhibition games and set their opening day roster. This will be the case for all Triple-A teams.
Fortunately the Triple-A roster limit is 28 players this year, so teams will have enough personnel to start the season even if four or five guys remain in big league camp until the end.
We can look at recent Seattle Mariners transactions and see who is likely to be with the Rainiers come Tuesday. The following players have recently been optioned to Tacoma or are Triple-A level players who have been “re-assigned to minor league camp.”
PITCHERS: Kyle Bird, Matt Festa, Joey Gerber, Ian McKinney, Patrick Weigel, Asher Wojciechowski, Danny Young
INFIELDERS: Kevin Padlo, Sam Haggerty
OUTFIELDERS: Taylor Trammell, Forrest Wall, Marcus Wilson
CATCHERS: Josh Morgan, Brian O’Keefe
There are also a couple of recent additions. Veteran catcher Joe Odom was signed a couple days ago for added depth, because O’Keefe is apparently going to have to start the season on the Injured List and the Mariners may open the season with three catchers in the big leagues (I keep hearing that Cal Raleigh is having a great spring). Odom was with the Rainiers for brief stints in both 2018 and 2019, and is known for his defense.
Veteran lefty and major leaguer Tommy Milone is back in the fold, signing a minor league deal. He pitched for the Rainiers in 2019 for the first six weeks of the season before getting called up by the Mariners. I like this addition. Historically, Milone has been a solid starter in the PCL, and personally I think crafty lefties are fun to watch. Potential Rainiers starting pitchers include Milone, McKinney, Darren McCaughan, and Wojciechowski – plus whoever doesn’t win the Mariners 5th starter battle.
Expected Rainiers infielder Erick Mejia, who was invited to big league camp, just recently got to Arizona after having visa-related delays coming from his native Dominican Republic. Mejia is one of 42 players who are still in big league camp, and they’re going to cut it to 28, so more Rainiers are coming soon.
We’ll have more players trickling in all weekend, and eventually will have an opening day roster for you on Monday or possibly not until Tuesday. I’ll have a new post for you on Monday afternoon with all the latest info.
- The Mariners released a video of 2021 Rainiers manager Kristopher Negron giving a brief talk before handing out some league championship rings. Included is a close-up of the rings. This appears to have happened during one of the Mariners daily spring training morning team meetings.
- Here’s Ryan Divish’s latest projected Seattle Mariners opening day roster.
- Shannon Drayer wonders if catcher Cal Raleigh is going to make the major league roster.
- The debate about Julio Rodriguez making the big league club continues to rage. On Wednesday he had was was politely termed “a learning day” in the Cactus League. Then last night he hit an inside-the-park home run and threw out a runner at second base. It’s going to be a tough decision – remember, he has just 200 plate appearances in Double-A and none in Triple-A. Meanwhile, here’s a fun Q&A he recently did.
- If you’re looking for all of the MLB changes for 2022 in one article, ESPN has you covered.