By Shannon Drayer
With Erasmo Ramirez out after missing innings because of a sore triceps and Jeremy Bonderman running into the trouble and fatiguing in the fifth inning of today's game against the Royals there is little question the final spots in the rotation will go to Brandon Maurer and Blake Beavan.
Bonderman was able to stretch out to 89 pitches but gave up six runs in the fifth inning and saw his velocity which was already a tick lower than it had been lately this spring drop from 90-91 to 84-86 with his fastball. In the clubhouse after the game he admitted that he did begin to tire in that inning.
"I was definitely tired, I definitely had some fatigue," he said standing at his locker. "It wasn't the best stuff I had and it definitely wasn't what I was hoping for. I was rolling along pretty well and then got smacked in the mouth."
Not literally, of course but he did get hit by a line drive in the foot at the start of the inning which may have had something to do with his loss of velocity. Regardless, for the first time this spring he hit a wall of sorts. Something to be expected after not pitching every fifth day since 2010. Bonderman wasn't looking for any excuses but hoped that he had shown enough before that fifth inning.
"It wasn't the first day to have it happen but definitely the wrong day," he said. "They know what I can do, they have seen how far I have come this spring so we will let them make the decision and move on. See what happens."
Eric Wedge after the game said he liked what he saw from Bonderman in the early innings and that it was important that he was able to get out there and pitch again. He was hesitant to focus on the fifth inning.
"He's had a good camp, he has come a long way," said Wedge. "When you talk about evaluating these guys you take everything into consideration and there are a lot of good things to take from today."
Good things or not, it is impossible to ignore that Bonderman appears to be a pitcher who is still building up and has yet to throw over 90 pitches every fifth day for an extended period of time. Wedge is interested to see how he bounces back tomorrow.
"We will see how he feels tomorrow and go from there but ultimately it's a unique situation. What we are trying to do is put everybody in the best position to succeed and best position to help us this year whether it be right away or at some point in time later this year."
Bonderman would seem to fall into the later this year category. I asked Wedge if he had had any conversations with him about the future.
"Not yet," he answered. "All this is going to come to a head in the next day or two. We are trying to be respectful and give everybody ample opportunity and obviously with him starting today that is something we wanted to get through and we will go from there."
Wedge reiterated what he said on the Cactus League Report Monday night, that he would like to have the roster finalized before the team leaves for Salt Lake City Friday afternoon. None of candidates for the final spots in the rotation pitch again before Friday so those decisions most likely have already been made. The only question that remains regarding Bonderman is will he accept an assignment to triple A to continue building up. It is hard to believe there is another team that would put him straight into the rotation so this could be a very good option for him, and the Mariners for that matter.