Spring training has arrived in full force, as the Seattle Mariners organization has gathered at the Peoria Sports Complex Peoria, Arizona. The first exhibition game of the spring is tomorrow.
Most of the Tacoma Rainiers players are in major league camp with hopes of trying to earn a spot on the major league roster, or at least catch the eye of the Mariners coaching staff to increase their chances of getting called up during the season.
The organization is still adding players on minor league contracts, and we have a few pretty well-known names to add into the Tacoma mix.
Back in December the Mariners traded for established major league second baseman Kolten Wong. Over this past weekend, the team signed his younger brother Kean Wong to a minor league contract.
Kean Wong is a Triple-A veteran with plenty of experience in the PCL, having spent the past two seasons with Salt Lake. He has three more years of Triple-A time with Durham in the International League, and he has had several sips of the big league coffee with both Tampa Bay and the Angels.
Last year with Salt Lake, Wong batted .262 with three homers and a .342 on-base percentage. That was a down year for him; Wong is a career .285 hitter in Triple-A, including a .339 mark with Salt Lake in 2021.
Wong plays several different positions, including third base, second base, and corner outfield. He’ll figure in the Rainiers mix this season.
Reliever Carson Fulmer was signed to a minor league contract and invited to big league camp. A former first round draft pick out of Vanderbilt, Fulmer has pitched in the major leagues for four different teams. His most recent major league stint came with the Cincinnati Reds in 2021.
Last year Fulmer spent the entire season with the Oklahoma City Dodgers, appearing in 49 games with a 2.86 ERA. He appeared on the PCL saves leaderboard all season, finishing with a dozen.
Just today we learned that the Mariners have signed veteran major league outfielder Kole Calhoun to a minor league contract, and brought him to major league spring training. Unlike the previous two players mentioned, Calhoun is a bit of a longshot to play for Tacoma.
Now 35-years-old, Calhoun is a longtime AL West rival of the Mariners. He was with the Angels from his call-up from Salt Lake in 2012 through the 2019 season, and after two years with the Diamondbacks he returned to the AL West as a member of the Texas Rangers last year.
Other than a few brief rehabilitation assignments, Calhoun has not played in the minor leagues since 2013, and it is unknown if he is willing to do so again. This signing has the smell of a “let’s see if he has anything left in the tank during spring training” type of deal, with Mariners president Jerry Dipoto helping out an old player of his from his Angels days. He’s also a good insurance policy in case injuries mount up.
Similar to Calhoun, the Mariners have brought veteran outfielder Leonys Martin to camp in a return to the organization. Now just shy of his 35h birthday, Martin last played in the United States in 2019. He was with Cleveland at the time, and then mid-season he moved to the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan, where he played through last year.
Martin had an excellent season for Tacoma back in 2017, and we haven’t seen him at Cheney Stadium since then. Like Calhoun, I’m not sure if he’s interested in being a full time Triple-A player at age 35 – we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
We’ve got a whole lot of links to share. Spring training is underway, and that means content.
- Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated takes a deep dive into the various swing changes of Jarred Kelenic, and is hopeful for his future.
- Pitcher Bryce Miller, who may appear for Tacoma this season, developed a new slider last season and Ryan Divish has the story.
- Divish fielded a Q&A from spring training.
- We’re probably two years away from seeing top prospect Harry Ford in Tacoma. He’s going through a learning process in spring training right now.
- Larry Stone welcomed us to the start of spring training with a column claiming it’s finally a “normal” spring training.
- More Mariners positional previews from the Seattle Times: Teoscar Hernandez will handle right field, and fellow new addition Kolten Wong leads the way at second base. In addition, Adam Jude to a look at the entire bullpen.
- What a bummer: outfielder Taylor Trammell broke his hamate bone and is out for about seven weeks. This is the injury that often saps a hitter’s power for several months even after returning to the lineup.
- Ten players in the Mariners organization are playing in the World Baseball Classic.
- Spring training means we are getting some feature stories on players, such as Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez and Robbie Ray.
- Ty France opened up about what caused him to slump late in the season last year.
- For Baseball America subscribers, an interesting brief on how the Mariners might optimize the three first round draft picks they have this year.
- In the PCL, Salt Lake has a new manager for 2023… sort of. Keith Johnson returns to the helm of the Bees, a position he last held in 2018.
- The Albuquerque newspaper has a Q&A with new Isotopes skipper Pedro Lopez.
- Congratulations to Zack Bayrouty, who replaces Johnny Doskow as the new voice of the Sacramento River Cats.