Catching up with some ex-Mariners

Spring Training ends a week from tomorrow, which got me to thinking – how are some of last year’s Mariners doing in their new homes?

So, I went to other sites to find out.

Right-handed pitcher  Brandon Morrow, traded to the Blue Jays for reliever Brandon League, has had some injury issues with his right shoulder and been limited to two Grapefruit League starts and five innings, surrendering four runs. The best-case scenario: Morrow begins the regular season as the Jays’ No. 3 starter. The worst-case scenario: he starts the season on the 15-day disabled list.

The medical news on Russell Branyan is even worse.

The first baseman, who turned down a one-year guaranteed contract offer that included a second-year club option from the Mariners (insert a big “whew!” from the Z-man here), has yet to appear in a Cactus League game because of the herniated disc in his lower back that knocked him out of the lineup last September.

This morning, Branyan and the Indians’ athletic training staff finally felt good enough about the condition of Branyan’s back to allow him to take outdoor batting practice for the first time all spring. He also was set to take ground balls and do some running.

Third baseman Adrian Beltre, who will man the Red Sox’s hot corner, has displayed he same work ethic that made him the best defensive third-sacker in Mariners history and a two-time Gold Glove winner.

“He takes a million ground balls,” said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. “I’ve never seen anyone take that many. And he takes them in on the grass and he has them hit so hard. He’s trying to work on his reaction and be as quick as he possibly can, and he’s one of the quickest third basemen I’ve seen.”

Jose Lopez might not know this, but Beltre committed 29 errors in 1999, his rookie season with the Dodgers, but worked so hard that he has not reached the 20-error mark since.

To answer the most important question about Beltre: No, he is not wearing a protective cup.

As for his hitting? Well, as of this morning he was batting .276 in 11 games with no home runs and two RBIs.

Utility player Bill Hall, sent to Boston for Casey Kotchman, went into today’s action with a .156 (6-for-38) batting average, one home run and five RBIs. He could be on the bubble as far as earning a spot on the Red Sox’ 25-man Opening Day roster.

Moving right along, Miguel Batista apparently has found a new home.

Nationals manager Jim Riggleman all but announced on Friday that Batista is his long man out of the bullpen, even though the right-hander is not having a strong Spring Training.

As of today, Batista had given up six runs in 9 2/3 innings, striking out seven. 

None of the three players the Mariners traded to the Phillies for left-hander Cliff Lee will be on the NL champs’ 25-man Opening Day roster. Right-hander Phillippe Aumont, outfielder Tyson Gilles and right-hander JC Ramirez are in the Minor League camp.

And finally, right-hander Carlos Silva has landed a spot in the Cubs’ starting rotation, manager Lou Piniella announced on Friday.

Silva is 2-1 with a 5.73 ERA after four Cactus League appearances.

— Jim Street


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