Updated Oct 14, 2012 - 11:06 pm
Brady Henderson - 710 ESPN Seattle
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 11:32am
What a difference a week makes – or in this case, six games.
Things were looking up for the Mariners entering their four-game series against the Indians last Friday. They had just taken two of three from the Yankees in New York and were 5-0-1 in their last six series, climbing into second place in the AL West and pulling to within a game of .500 in the process.
It's also reignited questions about general manager Jack Zduriencik's job security.
"I just got a text today from a senior front-office guy in another organization that said, 'I hear Jack Z's seat in Seattle is getting hotter by the day,'" ESPN's Keith Law told "Wyman, Mike and Moore" Thursday afternoon.
"And that doesn't surprise me at all. He's been there for a while, and the major-league team, they're not good on paper in terms of the standings and they look even worse."
The Mariners dropped to 20-27 after being swept by the Indians and Angels. They're now on pace for another 90-loss season, which would be their third in Zduriencik's five years in Seattle.
The back end of the rotation and an inconsistent offense have been the biggest culprits this season. While Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma have been one of the best one-two punches in baseball, Joe Saunders, Brandon Maurer and Aaron Harang have a combined record of 6-15 and all have ERAs north of 5.5.
After scoring one run during their two-game sweep in Anaheim, the Mariners are averaging just under 3.6 runs per game, slightly less than last year's average of 3.82.
"I think if you had to watch this club play every day you might actually think they're worse than they actually are because it's an ugly style of baseball when your offense is that anemic," Law said. "And I could see that coming down on the manager or on the front office just because one, that's the industry rumor and two, that's kind of how GMs get replaced across the game of baseball."
The continued struggles of once-highly-regarded prospects Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero haven't help matters – neither the Mariners' offense nor Zduriencik's track record.
"They just have not had any success developing young hitters once they get to the big leagues," said Law, a former front-office executive. "The guys all look fine in the minors. They get to the big leagues and they just stop hitting."
Zduriencik received a multi-year extension in August of 2011 even though the Mariners were en route to their second-straight losing season. He's been credited with replenishing a farm system that was considered bare when he replaced Bill Bavasi before the 2009 season. While Law believes the Mariners' future is bright with Mike Zunino, Nick Franklin, Brad Miller and the Big 3 pitching prospects on the horizon, he thinks 2015 is the soonest the team could conceivably contend.
"There's a lot to like, actually, in the long term for this club," he said, "but the short term is probably still going to be pretty unpleasant."
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 9:26am
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll thought it was a ankle injury that forced tight end Anthony McCoy to be carted off the field during Monday's organized team activity.
Anthony McCoy is expected to miss at least six months after tearing his Achilles tendon during Monday's OTA. (AP)
McCoy suffered a torn right Achilles tendon and will miss at least six months after having surgery Thursday to repair the injury.
The Seahawks announced the injury Friday, confirming an earlier report from Mike Garafolo of USA Today.
McCoy, 25, was Seattle's backup tight end last season, playing behind Zach Miller while seeing plenty of time in two-tight end sets. After struggling with drops, penalties and injuries during his first two seasons, McCoy finished 2012 with career highs in receptions (18), receiving yards (291) and touchdowns (3). He appeared in all 16 regular-season games and both of Seattle's playoff games.
McCoy, a sixth-round pick in 2010 out of USC, is entering the final year of his contract.
His injury clears the path for rookie Luke Willson to be Seattle's No. 2 tight end. Seattle chose Willson in the fifth round out of Rice, and he was among the standouts during the team's rookie minicamp earlier this month.
Darren Fells, Sean McGrath, Cooper Helfet and Victor Marshall are the other tight ends on the Seahawks' roster.
Thursday, May 23, 2013 @ 11:53pm
The Mariners may not be done making moves after sending Jesus Montero to Triple-A Tacoma, but Dustin Ackley and Aaron Harang are safe for now.
That was the word from general manager Jack Zduriencik, who joined "Wyman, Mike and Moore" Thursday afternoon. A few highlights from that conversation:
Ackley. Zduriencik's stated reasons for not sending Ackley to Tacoma included his strong defense at second base, some "tough luck" he's endured – presumably with hard-hit balls that ended up as outs – and a stretch in which Ackley appeared to be breaking out of his season-long slump. Zduriencik even said Ackley "has figured it out at the big-league level."
Dustin Ackley has a .218 batting average and five extra-base hits. "We're going to look forward to Dustin coming out of this thing," Jack Zduriencik said. (AP)
"Whenever you make a move, what is your best option to replace a player that you would send down?" Zduriencik said. "And I do think that is a major, major decision. That's a big, big decision in terms of the player you're bringing up, where he's at in his career and the player that's on your big-league ballclub."
Infielder Nick Franklin has been discussed as a potential call-up lately. Franklin, 22, was drafted with the second of the Mariners' two first-round picks in 2009, the same year they chose Ackley No. 2 overall. He's played in 101 games in Triple-A Tacoma since his promotion last year and his hitting .318 with four home runs and 20 RBIs in 37 games this season.
When asked specifically about Franklin, Zduriencik said he's happy with the way he's been playing in Tacoma but noted that he's young and not on the 40-man roster.
"Timing is everything with these young kids, there's no question," he said.
Harang. Zduriencik is giving Harang more time to recover from what has been a miserable start. Since he was acquired on April 11, Harang has gone 1-5 with an 8.58 ERA, and on Tuesday against the Angels he allowed seven earned runs and nine hits in just 3 2/3 innings.
Zduriencik, though, noted that start came after a nearly-two-week layoff and that Harang pitched well in Pittsburgh before he was scratched from his next start because of back spasms.
"I think when you have a veteran guy like this who has a history of being a dependable pitcher, you've got to continue to give him some rope and see what happens," Zduriencik said. "Hopefully he gets himself back on track. He said he felt good physically the other day; he just didn't pitch very good."
Gutierrez update. Zduriencik said he expects center fielder Franklin Gutierrez to be back with the big-league club "probably in a week." Gutierrez was placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 23 with a strained hamstring. It was his fifth trip to the DL since 2011. Zduriencik said the Mariners are taking their time given Gutierrez's injury history.
"With Franklin, you just have to see," he said. "He has to sustain a period, I think, for us to say, 'OK, he's ready to come up.' He's on a 20-day rehab, and ... in the past we've brought him up here when he said he feels good and he's played a couple days in a row, but I think we're looking to see a little more out of him this time, where, 'Franklin, you've got to go out there and feel really good about yourself.'"
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 @ 9:28am
Josh Portis would have had a hard time earning a spot on the Seahawks' roster as their No. 2 quarterback, and his recent arrest likely sealed his fate.
Portis, 25, was competing with Brady Quinn and Jerrod Johnson to be Russell Wilson's backup. He participated in Monday's OTA practice hours after reports surfaced that he had been arrested on May 5 on suspicion of DUI after he was pulled over for driving 80 mph in a 60 mph zone on Interstate 90.
According to a report from the Washington State Patrol, an arresting officer noticed "a strong odor of intoxicants" coming from Portis' vehicle and claimed that Portis performed poorly in field sobriety tests. Portis submitted to a breath test that registered blood-alcohol levels of .092 and .078. The state's legal limit is .08.
Portis will be arraigned on May 28.
Portis was in his second stint with the Seahawks, who signed him as an undrafted free agent out of California University (Pa.) in 2011. Portis spent his rookie season on Seattle's roster as the third quarterback but never saw the field. He spent 12 weeks on the Seahawks' practice squad last year before he was released in November. Seattle re-signed Portis in April shortly after trading Matt Flynn to Oakland.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Monday, May 20, 2013 @ 7:23pm
RENTON – Cliff Avril was a spectator as the Seahawks held their first organized team activity Monday, but he says the plantar fascia foot injury that kept him on the sideline is nothing to be concerned about.
While painful, Avril's injury didn't require surgery, and coach Pete Carroll said he expects the defensive end to be back to full speed in a matter of weeks.
That qualifies as a bit of good news for the Seahawks, who have seen their pass rush take a hit in recent weeks with Avril's foot injury, Greg Scruggs' ACL tear and Bruce Irvin's suspension. When the Seahawks signed Avril and Michael Bennett during the first week of free agency, their additions were seen as a luxury for a team that already had Irvin and at some point would get Chris Clemons back from a knee injury.
The outlook changed Friday when the NFL announced that Irvin will be suspended for the first four games of the season for a violation of the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances. Irvin waived his right to appeal and acknowledged that he made a mistake by taking a substance that is prohibited without a medical-use exemption. He apologized publicly via a statement released by the team as well as a lengthy message posted on his Twitter account.
Irvin also apologized to his teammates during a team meeting. That impressed Avril, who saw plenty of teammates run afoul of the law and the NFL's policies during his five seasons with the Lions.
"Honestly, it was surprising for a young player like that to want to get in front of the team and apologize and what not. That was great, though, to see that maturity in him," Avril said. "I've only known him for a few weeks now, and to see a young player actually want to go out in front of 50, 60 guys and tell them what's going on and that he's going to miss the first four games of the season, much respect to him."
Irvin, eligible to participate in offseason activities despite his suspension, lined up at both Leo end and outside linebacker Monday. The Seahawks are considering using Irvin and Avril at outside linebacker in certain situations this season as a way of getting as many pass rushers on the field as possible, and Monday's OTA was an indication that they aren't scrapping that experiment because of Irvin's suspension.
Avril, 27, totaled 29 sacks over the last three seasons while mostly playing end in Detroit's 4-3 defense. While any new position requires a significant adjustment, starting in a two-point stance and dropping into coverage aren't completely foreign concepts for Avril, who began his career at Purdue as an outside linebacker. The Seahawks haven't offered many specifics about their plans for Avril and Irvin, but Avril said any action he sees in that role would include him lining up on the line of scrimmage.
"We talked about it during the process while I was signing. It's possible that there may be times where they need me to drop into coverage from time to time, and I do feel like I can do it. Whatever the team needs," he said. "But come passing downs, I truly believe I'll be one of the guys getting after the quarterbacks."
Monday, May 20, 2013 @ 2:50pm
RENTON – A few notes after the Seahawks held their first organized team activity (OTA) on a sunny Monday afternoon at the team's headquarters:
All eyes on Irvin. Coach Pete Carroll began his post-practice press conference by speaking at length about the challenge and importance of keeping young players on the straight and narrow. This comes on the heels of the NFL suspending defensive end Bruce Irvin for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances and news that backup quarterback Josh Portis was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of driving under the influence.
Bruce Irvin is eligible to participate in the Seahawks' offseason activities despite his suspension. (Rod Mar, Seattle Seahawks)
Irvin and Portis were both practicing Monday. Irvin lined up during team drills at both Leo end and outside linebacker. He's eligible to participate in all offseason workouts and preseason games, but will miss the first four games of the regular season while serving his suspension.
The NFL announced the suspension Friday. In a statement released by the team, Irvin apologized for taking a substance that is prohibited by the NFL without a medical-use exemption. He isn't appealing the suspension.
"For Bruce, we're going to try to help him along as best we possibly can," Carroll said. "He's made an enormous commitment to try and do the right thing and to try to be right and he made a mistake and he admitted to it, he owned up to it to his teammates and he owned up to it to the staff and he owned up to it to everybody."
Irvin became the fifth Seahawk since 2011 to be suspended for a violation of the league's PED policy. That doesn't include cornerback Richard Sherman, whose suspension was overturned on appeal. Carroll said the Seahawks go "well past" league protocol for educating players on what is and isn't allowed, but said they'll have to continue to evaluate their practices in light of the continued issues.
"We have to figure it out and try to help through education and through all of the ways that we can," he said. "We will always compete to find more creative ways to make the message clear."
Avril sidelined. Carroll said the Seahawks are fortunate to have added defensive end Cliff Avril in free agency given Irvin's suspension and the uncertainty about Chris Clemons' availability to begin the season. Avril was in attendance but didn't practice Monday because of a plantar fascia foot injury that Carroll said he sustained about a month ago. The injury didn't require surgery, and Carroll said he expects Avril to be back to full speed soon.
"The plantar fascia thing is a real uncomfortable thing that you just have to wait it out," Carroll said. "It's something that you can come back from, it's not a problem, but you just have to wait it out. He's real anxious to go and he's doing very well in his rehab. He runs some this week for the first time. It just takes another couple weeks, at least."
Lynch absent. Aside from Clemons and fellow injured defensive end Greg Scruggs, running back Marshawn Lynch was the only player on Seattle's 90-man roster who was absent Monday. Attendance at OTAs is voluntary, something Carroll noted without giving further explanation as to why Lynch wasn't in attendance. Carroll said Lynch is not injured and that that he's working out in the Bay Area.
"He's in very good shape. He came in 10 days ago and was in really good shape," Carroll said. "He's working on a really intense program in his area and he's benefiting from it. We'd love to see everybody here."
Robert Turbin took snaps with the first-team offense in Lynch's absence. Second-round pick Christine Michael was limited because of a tight hamstring.
Other injuries. Tight end Anthony McCoy injured his right ankle during 11-on-11 drills and had to be carted off the field. Rookie cornerback Tharold Simon did not practice because of a foot injury.
Friday, May 17, 2013 @ 12:34pm
The NFL has suspended Seahawks defensive end Bruce Irvin four games for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Irvin issued a statement through the team in which he apologized to his teammates, coaches and Seahawks fans and said he made a mistake by taking a substance that is prohibited without a medical exemption. The league does not divulge which substances trigger positive tests.
"I am extremely disappointed in the poor judgment I showed and take full responsibility for my actions. I will not appeal the discipline and instead will focus my energy on preparing for the season so I can begin earning your trust and respect again. I look forward to contributing to the team the moment I return," Irvin's statement read, in part.
Irvin, Seattle's first-round pick in 2012, led all rookies in sacks last season with eight while playing mainly as a situational pass-rusher. His role was expected to expand this season with the Seahawks facing the possibility of having to begin the year without their best pass rusher, Chris Clemons, who's recovering from reconstructive knee surgery.
Ian Rapoport, a reporter for the NFL Network, tweeted Friday that the Seahawks knew Irvin's suspension was a possibility before the start of free agency, which would further explain why they added pass-rushers Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett.
Irvin becomes the fifth Seahawk since 2011 to be suspended for violating the league's performance-enhancing substance policy. Allen Barbre, John Moffitt, Winston Guy and Brandon Browner are the others. Richard Sherman had his suspension overturned on appeal.
He expressed remorse via Twitter Friday: "I messed up and I feel so bad and have been depressed for weeks now. I've had sleepless nights because I knew when this came out, I would let so many people down, including myself. I have worked so hard to rebuild my image and it takes another blow."
Related: Irvin's suspension is a reality check for the Seahawks.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 @ 11:36am
By Brady Henderson
Michael Robinson has been an adept lead blocker, a special teams captain and a vocal presence for the Seahawks, but his future in Seattle became less certain when the team drafted an alternative in Spencer Ware.
That was among the subjects discussed when Mike Sando of ESPN.com and Eric Williams of The News Tribune joined "Brock and Danny" on Monday to wrap up the Seahawks' rookie minicamp.
Robinson has done it all as Seattle's Swiss Army Knife since the team signed him at the end of the 2010 training camp. But he's 30 years old, has a salary that is scheduled to count $2.5 million against the 2013 cap and plays a position that requires him to run headlong into opposing linebackers, naturally raising questions about longevity.
NFL teams are constantly looking for younger and cheaper alternatives, and that's what Ware represents. As a sixth-round pick, Ware's salary is slotted at roughly $400,000 for his rookie season, significantly less than Robinson's. He was primarily a halfback at LSU, but the Seahawks' plan is to convert him to fullback and occasionally take advantage of his ability to carry the ball.
Coach Pete Carroll conceded that it will be tough to keep two fullbacks on the roster, especially if Ware doesn't demonstrate an ability to play special teams.
|Height/Weight:||5-10, 229 lbs.|
|Drafted:||Round 6, 194 overall|
|Notable:||Played OF on LSU's baseball team for part of the 2011 season.|
O'Neil noted that Seattle has an open role in the backfield after releasing Leon Washington, who saw some time as the third-down back last season. While Christine Michael showed good hands during Seattle's rookie minicamp, Carroll has said the second-round pick needs to improve his pass-blocking, an deficiency that could preclude him from a third-down role. That would leave Ware and Robert Turbin as the most viable options.
The Seahawks are also experimenting with defensive ends Bruce Irvin and Cliff Avril at outside linebacker, and Sando wondered whether the flexibility in their front seven would allow them to keep one fewer player at either of those positions. That would create an extra roster spot, potentially allowing Seattle to keep two fullbacks who have different body types and perhaps could be used in different ways.
If not, it would create a difficult decision assuming Ware shows he's worth keeping around.
"Would you be willing as a coaching staff to move on from a guy who really is important to the team?" Sando said of Robinson. "I think he's a good player and a good leader, has a good rapport with (Marshawn) Lynch. It's just a really interesting pick that way. I'm not sure if he's (Ware) exclusive to Robinson, but it kind of feels like he is."
Williams doesn't disagree with that either-or premise, but he doesn't see Robinson being the odd-man-out.
"What he does with his ability to read the opening of the holes as a fullback, his ability to play special teams and his ability as one of the vocal leaders on this team, I don't think that can really be replaced by a sixth-round draft pick who hasn't played fullback since his freshman year," Williams said." So I think we really have to kind of pump our brakes on Spencer Ware being able to replace Michael Robinson at this point."
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