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Notes: Gonzales' spring debut; injury updates

@gregjohnsmlb
February 24, 2020

PEORIA, Ariz. -- If this had been the regular season, Marco Gonzales wouldn’t have been a happy camper. But instead, it was his first outing of Cactus League play. So while Seattle’s No. 1 starter wasn’t thrilled with getting knocked out in the first inning during the Mariners' 16-12 loss

PEORIA, Ariz. -- If this had been the regular season, Marco Gonzales wouldn’t have been a happy camper. But instead, it was his first outing of Cactus League play.

So while Seattle’s No. 1 starter wasn’t thrilled with getting knocked out in the first inning during the Mariners' 16-12 loss to the Cubs on Monday against the Cubs at Peoria Stadium, he kept things in perspective, despite allowing five runs on three hits and a pair of walks while recording just two outs.

“You go out the first one and you just want to feel good and throw some strikes,” Gonzales said. “My timing was a little off and I was frustrated a little bit by my execution. But for the first time out, I wanted to feel good and have the ball feel good coming out of my hand. The results are what they are at this time of year.”

The results haven’t been good for either Gonzales, or lefty Yusei Kikuchi, who lasted just 1 1/3 innings in the Mariners’ Cactus League opener on Sunday against the Rangers.

Gonzales and Kikuchi, Seattle’s top two returning starters, combined to allow eight runs (seven earned) on seven hits, with three walks and three strikeouts in two innings in their spring debuts.

But early games in Arizona are not much of an indication of how pitchers will fare over the long haul of a season and both hurlers and manager Scott Servais were quick to downplay the initial numbers.

“I’m happy to get the first one out of the way, get some kinks out, get used to the game again and just move forward,” Gonzales said.

Servais noted that it was a hitter’s kind of day with the wind blowing out as the two teams combined for 30 hits and 28 runs.

“Marco, in his first time out, obviously not sharp command-wise, and that’s his thing,” Servais said. “He had a hard time landing his secondary pitches. They got a couple balls up in the air and they took off today.”

The Mariners did get sharp relief outings from Gerson Bautista and Sam Delaplane, two rookies competing for bullpen roles.

Bring on the utility battle
Tim Lopes and Dylan Moore, two players competing for the Mariners’ utility role this spring, came out swinging on Monday. Lopes went 3-for-3 with two doubles and four RBIs. Moore followed Lopes’ two-run double in the fifth with a two-run homer to left in a 1-for-2 day with a walk.

Moore spent all of last season on the Mariners’ 25-man roster and played 113 games in the utility role, while Lopes played well as a late-season callup after a strong season with Triple-A Tacoma.

“There’s real competition, and those guys know it,” Servais said. “Really from the first game or two they’re in, they’re getting after it. The quality of at-bats have been really good. You’ll see those guys a lot this spring. They’ll get a lot of chances to move around the field, show what they can do with the bat and on the bases and different spots with the glove. They’re very capable.”

Walker’s first start pushed back a day
After initially being projected to make his first Cactus League start on Thursday against the Giants, free-agent signee Taijuan Walker instead will pitch in a simulated situation and possibly a “B” game on Friday as he works his way back from elbow and shoulder issues that wiped out most of his past two seasons.

Walker threw two innings in a live batting-practice scenario on Monday as he continues tuning up before beginning game action.

“We’ll bump him back,” Servais said. “We’ll probably do one more live up-down before we slide him into the regular ‘A’ game rotation. I thought he threw well on the backfields today. He felt good coming out of it, so he’ll continue building on that.”

Top pitching prospect Logan Gilbert is still slated to pitch one of Seattle’s split-squad games on Thursday and possibly could now take the start in the Peoria game against the Giants instead of throwing on the road against the White Sox in Glendale, though no decision has been finalized on that.

Injury news
Dom Thompson-Williams, the outfielder acquired last year from the Yankees as part of the James Paxton trade, will miss the entire upcoming season after having surgery several weeks ago to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon.

The 24-year-old hit .234/.298/.391 with 12 homers and 41 RBIs last year for Double-A Arkansas. Thompson-Williams hadn’t been invited to Major League camp when he suffered the injury. He will report to the Mariners’ Minor League camp in March to begin the rehab process.

Up next
Kendall Graveman is scheduled to make his Mariners debut in Tuesday's 12:05 p.m. PT game against the Brewers in Maryvale. The 29-year-old right-hander signed as a free agent with Seattle this winter and will be making his first mound appearance since May 11, 2018 as he returns from Tommy John surgery. Graveman will likely pitch the first two innings, with rookie Justus Sheffield to follow. Both are expected to land spots in Seattle's rotation. Promising bullpen prospects Joey Gerber and Wyatt Mills are among the relievers lined up to throw in the Mariners' first road game of the spring.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.