Notes: Opener scrubbed; new arm in camp

February 22nd, 2020

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Valley of the Sun didn’t see much sunshine on Saturday as the Mariners and Padres had their Cactus League opener canceled by rain after the wet stuff fell all morning in the Phoenix area.

The Mariners instead will open their spring slate at 12:10 p.m. PT on Sunday against the Rangers at Peoria Stadium in a contest that will be televised on MLB.TV and ROOT Sports. Mariners left-hander will get the start for Seattle vs. Texas southpaw Joe Palumbo.

Manager Scott Servais had posted a starting lineup for the rained-out game that included most of his expected Opening Day starters, aside from the designated hitter and center-field spots that presumably will go to and .

Here’s the lineup that had been ticketed for Saturday and will likely be similar to Sunday’s batting order:

New reliever in town
Right-hander , claimed off waivers from the Brewers on Friday, joined the crowded competition for bullpen spots this spring as he arrived in camp Saturday.

Williams, 28, grew up as a Mariners fan in Camas, Wash., so that helped ease the shock of changing organizations for the first time. Williams, a fourth-round Draft pick of the Brewers in 2013, was regarded as one of their up-and-coming relievers until missing the 2015 and ’16 seasons following Tommy John surgery.

“It’s my first time experiencing anything other than the Brewers, but it’s kind of a whirlwind of emotions,” Williams said. “It was super exciting when I found out the Mariners had claimed me. I couldn’t be more excited to get started.

“I grew up going to games in the Kingdome and games at Safeco when it first opened,” he said. “A lot of history there. Buhner Buzz Cut nights, a big fan, , -- all those guys. So it’s exciting to be here and be a part of it.”

The reports on Williams are that he has a live arm and a mid-90s fastball but needs to improve his command. He posted a 5.23 ERA in 71 outings for the Brewers over the past three seasons.

Williams put up a 2.83 ERA in 54 innings over 46 appearances for Triple-A San Antonio in 2019 and was recently granted a fourth Minor League option, which means the Mariners could send him down to Triple-A Tacoma without exposing him to waivers, as long as they keep him on the 40-man roster.

Taijuan progressing
Recent free-agent signee took “a good step in the right direction” with his first live batting practice session on Friday, according to Servais, as he continues building his arm strength back up after sitting out most of the past two seasons with the D-backs.

The 27-year-old right-hander took a hard comebacker off his leg on one pitch but otherwise emerged healthy.

“I thought he looked pretty good,” Servais said. “Taijuan has changed a few things mechanically. He’s cleaned up his arm stroke, so he’s made some adjustments there. Anytime you make those kind of adjustments, your timing can be off.

“His command was probably not where he wanted it to be. … He did turn up the intensity. He got after it a little bit, certainly after he took one off his shin. That will get your blood boiling, and you could see after that he got locked in pretty good.”

Medical updates
Right-handed relievers and , who have been held back in the initial work because of pre-camp soreness, both continue progressing well.

Swanson, who felt some tightness in his back last month, threw well in the bullpen earlier this week and is scheduled for his first live batting practice session on Sunday.

Magill, slowed by some tenderness in his right shoulder, ramped up his throwing program with a good bullpen session on Friday and is moving toward his own live BP session.