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Gordon passes test in CF with strong throw

MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The outfield transition of Dee Gordon passed another test on Wednesday night, as the former second baseman threw out A's first baseman Mark Canha trying to advance to third with a perfect throw in the Mariners' 7-3 loss to the A's.

Gordon has made several nice running catches in the gaps this spring and has looked smooth in his routes in center, but this was the first time he's had to make a tough throw. And he nailed it, after backing up an overthrown pickoff attempt by starting pitcher Marco Gonzales.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The outfield transition of Dee Gordon passed another test on Wednesday night, as the former second baseman threw out A's first baseman Mark Canha trying to advance to third with a perfect throw in the Mariners' 7-3 loss to the A's.

Gordon has made several nice running catches in the gaps this spring and has looked smooth in his routes in center, but this was the first time he's had to make a tough throw. And he nailed it, after backing up an overthrown pickoff attempt by starting pitcher Marco Gonzales.

"Dee has a great arm out there," Gonzales said. "That was clutch. He's confident, I think that's the biggest thing. He's running out there with chest held high, and that's what you want. You want to see your guys running out on the field and go make plays for you, and that was huge tonight."

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Gordon was a two-time National League All-Star second baseman and won a Gold Glove at that position with the Marlins, but the Mariners acquired the speedster to play center, and he's embraced the switch with an energy that has impressed his teammates and coaches.

Manager Scott Servais has raved about Gordon's "baseball IQ" and his instinctive nature of putting himself in the right spots. He showed that with his second-inning play, when he was moving quickly forward to recover Gonzales' errant pickoff attempt and put himself in position to nail Canha with an all-out effort that left him sprawling after unleashing his throw.

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Gordon displayed his arm again in the sixth with a strong throw that carried easily -- but came in too high -- to third base when Franklin Barreto tagged up from second on a line drive to center.

"Dee made a great throw, and that was awesome to see," Servais said. "He's got plenty [of arm strength] and very accurate. He almost got the other guy, too, if it had been down just a hair. He's an exciting player. He can do a lot of different things on the field. Obviously the speed, but the arm, the bat, it's the whole package."

On the Marco
Gonzales extended his spring scoreless streak to nine innings, as the 26-year-old left-hander threw four scoreless innings, allowing just two hits. He's allowed five hits and three walks, striking out nine, over his first three starts.

Gonzales continues to be one of the Mariners' bright spots of spring, as he's looked far more confident and efficient than late last year, when he posted a 5.40 ERA in 10 games (seven starts) after being acquired from St. Louis in July. The lefty said it's a dramatic change from last spring when he was coming off Tommy John surgery.

Video: OAK@SEA: Gonzales induces a DP to escape jam

"Very different," Gonzales said. "I wasn't even in games. I was throwing bullpens, barely. I'm grateful to be able to take the mound and feel good afterward."

Roster moves
The Mariners made their first roster moves of Spring Training on Wednesday, designating reliever Shawn Armstrong for assignment, to open up a 40-man roster spot for the signing of free agent Ichiro Suzuki, and reassigning three players to Minor League camp.

Infielder Jordan Cowan, catcher Joe Odom and right-handed pitcher Matthew Festa were reassigned, putting the Major League camp at 60 players.

Armstrong is a 27-year-old right-hander acquired from the Indians in December for $500,000 in international slot money. He pitched in three Cactus League games this spring, allowing one run and four hits in 4 2/3 innings. Seattle has seven days to trade, release or outright Armstrong's contract to the Minor Leagues.

Armstrong was one of a group of right-handers contending for the final spots in the bullpen, but he is out of Minor League options and that limited his roster flexibility.

Cowan and Festa are dealing with injuries and haven't seen any action this spring, while Odom had received just three at-bats in a trio of late-inning Cactus League appearances, collecting one hit and an RBI.

Cowan, a 22-year-old from Kentlake High in Kent, Wash., earned his camp invitation by winning the "productive team plate appearance" competition among Mariners' Minor Leaguers last year while playing at Class A Advanced Modesto. But he was recovering from labrum surgery in his right shoulder and is rehabbing.

Festa also had a good season last year in Modesto and pitched in the Arizona Fall League, but he'd been limited all camp while dealing with a hip injury. Odom was a Minor League Rule 5 Draft acquisition from the Braves in December.

Video: Top Prospects: Matthew Festa, RHP, Mariners

Injury updates
• Ace Felix Hernandez played catch for a second straight day without issue as he returns from a bruised forearm. He will continue building up toward a return to game action, though Servais isn't ready to put a timeline on that yet.

"I have to get him on the mound first," Servais said. "Once he throws a bullpen and is throwing all his pitches, then you can start ramping him up three days after that in a game. I don't know when that's going to be, but that's the progression."

• Right fielder Mitch Haniger took batting practice for a second straight day and also hit in a situational hitting game the Mariners conducted at the end of practice. Haniger has been held back by a sore hand, but he says he has no pain at all now and is ready to play as soon as he's cleared, which could be by this weekend.

• Reliever Nick Rumbelow is having more tests done on a lingering issue with the trapezius muscle in his back/neck area. The 26-year-old, who was acquired from the Yankees in November, was challenging for a spot in the Opening Day bullpen, but Servais acknowledged that will be unlikely now, as Rumbelow hasn't pitched since his Cactus League debut on Feb. 24.

Up next
Rob Whalen, a 24-year-old right-hander, gets his second start in place of the injured Hernandez as the Mariners host the Giants at 5:40 p.m. PT on Thursday at Peoria Stadium, live on MLB.TV and MLB Network. Max Povse, another one of Seattle's young starting prospects, is also slated to pitch three innings. Edwin Diaz and Juan Nicasio are among the relievers slated to throw. Johnny Cueto is scheduled to start for San Francisco.

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

Seattle Mariners, Dee Gordon