- The bullpen is still a bit of a mess. While all the same names are still being discussed-- J.J. Putz, Brandon Morrow, Sean Green, Mark Lowe, Eric O'Flaherty, Ryan Rowland-Smith, R.A. Dickey and, to a slightly lesser extent, Cha Seung Baek, Arthur Rhodes and Chris Reitsma-- health concerns keep manager John McLaren from putting a final bullpen together. Reitsma appears to be the farthest along health wise of the three "rehab pitchers," but hasn't been nearly as effective as Lowe or Rhodes. At least there are no serious injuries. Seattle may have to rough it for the first couple of weeks, but should have their best relievers available to them by mid-April.
- Richie Sexson's shoulder pain has been attributed to bursitis. The team is saying that Richie just slept on his should arm and that it's no big deal, but bursitis can easily turn into one of those nagging injuries that just won't go away. Sexson had the worst year of his career last season due to multiple nagging injuries, so it's very important for Sexson to get healthy and start 2008 off on the right foot. He is currently day to day but playing, though I wish he'd completely shut it down for a few days.
- More bad news out of Angels camp, setup man Scot Shields suffered a forearm strain and could miss the start of the season, along with fellow pitchers John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar and Chris Bootcheck. Shields says he'll be ready for the opener, but it's not looking up for him. His awful spring control may be a result of this injury. Whether he's pitching poorly or not pitching at all, it's good news for Seattle.
- The bench, like the bullpen, is no closer to being finalized as Opening Day approaches. It's becoming more apparent that none of the candidates really offer what Seattle needs. Greg Norton's bat is really heating up, but he is useless on the field, and the same can be said about Mike Morse. Charlton Jimerson would give the bench tremendous speed, but he still has a massive hole in his swing. Jeremy Reed offers decent defense and nothing else. It will be interesting to see how this shapes up.
- Speaking of the bench, Reed Johnson has just been released from the Toronto Blue Jays and is a much better all around fit for Seattle's bench than the current options. A Johnson acquisition has already been endorsed in several places around the Mariner blogosphere, and I gotta say that I wouldn't mind it either. The only bummer would be to see Morse and Jimerson walk. Neither have much of a future with the team but, as a fan, I really like watching both of them play. Bill Bavasi has a knack for bringing in last minute players, so this could be a realistic possibility.
- Almost forgot to post this, but John McLaren may have had a slip of the tongue the other day. "Unless there’s something going on with one of these guys - Dickey, the Rule 5 guy, if we’ve got a deal going for one of our guys who’s out of options. That may push us back, but I’d like to be set when we hit that plane. I don’t know that we can do that, but that would be my goal," he was quoted yesterday. It seems apparent that Seattle is trying to work a deal for either Cha Seung Baek, Mike Morse and/or Charlton Jimerson. We already mentioned the rumored Baek-for-Durham trade the other day. Mike Morse's strong spring may have upped his value as well, so he might bring something worthwhile in.
Sources: Stuff and Story, Bullpen picture still murky, Shields' arm now a concern for Angels, Shields out, Sexson has bursitis, Fourth Outfielder, Nothing's certain yet...... the morning update, March 22