Mariners Notebook: Latest on Dylan Moore, Andrés Muñoz, Evan White


UPDATED: MARCH 16, 2023 AT 6:19 PM

It was a busy day for the Mariners Thursday in Peoria with an early “B” game to make up for work lost to Wednesday’s rain, George Kirby starting against the Giants at Main Stadium, a couple of returnees from the World Baseball Classic and some worrying news.

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We’re going to get the potentially bad out of the way first. Utility player Dylan Moore was set to make his first spring game appearance and was actually in the original lineup seventh, playing shortstop.

“He’s playing today, that was the goal,” said manager Scott Servais at his morning media meeting. “He’s ramped up, feels good, will play shortstop today.”

Moore, slow-played at camp following core surgery in early December, has been making his progress through the various checks to get back into the games. He’s been batting for weeks now, taking shots in live batting practice. The run was the final hurdle and it seemed like he was ready to go, but it was announced he had been dropped from the line-up just an hour after the media session.

After the game, a goalless tie with the Giants (box score), Servais said Moore felt something swinging in his side in the batting cages and he should get an MRI tomorrow.

Moore’s role has expanded this year to be Kolten Wong’s right-handed draft partner at second base, filling in at shortstop for JP Crawford, who the team is looking to give more days off. While no news is no news, this is beginning to happen in affected departments with just two weeks left until the start of the season. Any setback at this point could jeopardize opening day for Moore. We should know more on Friday.

Better yet, Andrés Muñoz made his spring game debut when he pitched an inning in the B game against the Padres. After the offseason surgery, it was a mixed bag for Muñoz, with the fastball sitting at 97-98 mph according to scouts and the two-seamer nasty early on. However, he had some trouble in the 18 pitches he threw and got out of the inning knowing he had to make some adjustments.

“I’ve been thinking too much about the pitch clock,” Muñoz said. “I started getting faster every time, something I never expected.”

Muñoz was one of the slowest Mariners between pitches last year. The long walks around the hill would give him a chance to soothe his ankle, which was surgically repaired during the off-season. It also gave him a chance to gather his energy and focus on the next pitch.

“Right now I just have to figure out what I have to do to be more aggressive on every pitch, even if I have to do it faster,” he said.

While many pitchers noted that their first outings made them think of the clock, for most they found they had more time than they anticipated. With Muñoz it was the other way around. He will need time to adjust and the good news is he will do so without the pain he has been struggling with for most of 2022.

Updates to minor league assignments

We could see more spring roster cuts on Friday. There were a few here, a few there, most announced later in the day after the media had access to the manager for comment. On Thursday I got in touch again and asked for a few cuts.

Regarding Evan White, Servais noted that he was up front with the first baseman from the start of spring training that he would not make decisions based on just 15 spring at-bats.

“He just has to go play,” said Servais. “He knows he has to put together consistent bats and make it work there.”

The “there” is Triple-A Tacoma, a place that Servais believes should provide the pitching that White, who has missed most of the past two seasons due to injuries, needs to see.

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“April’s pitching is really good (in triple-A),” he said. “There’s a lot of guys in the bullpen, one or two in the rotation, who are disappointed and upset that they didn’t make the MLB team. Eventually they will be there in May and June but April is pretty good.”

Prelander Berroa was another interesting name. The pitching prospect will start the season at Double-A Arkansas, and while some call him a helper with his high-speed fastball and evil slider, he’s being kept on the rotation where he can get more work.

“He has a lot of confidence in his slider,” observed Servais. “The consistency, the mastery of his fastball? He’s a young pitcher.”

Servais conceded that Berroa, who also has a decent substitution, could improve control of his fastball, he could be a very tempting arm for the Mariners’ bullpen should the need arise.

Sailors’ Notes

• Catching candidate Harry Ford and aide Matt Brash were back at the Mariners clubhouse Thursday morning after their World Baseball Classic teams (UK for Ford, Canada for Brash) were eliminated after a pool game in Phoenix on Wednesday. Julio Rodríguez, Teoscar Hernández and Diego Castillo, all of whom played for the Dominican Republic in Miami, are expected to return on Friday.

• JP Crawford DH’d again Thursday afternoon. He received treatment for his sore shoulder and played long-distance tag. The hope is that he can return to the field on Sunday or Monday.

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