Romero on Mariners' radar as backup 1B

March 16th, 2016

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Stefen Romero has hit extremely well this spring and the 27-year-old outfielder continues to push his way into the conversation as a potential backup first baseman as the Mariners look for a right-handed hitting complement to Adam Lind.

Romero made his second Cactus League start at first base on Tuesday in the Mariners' 4-4 tie with the Angels and not only went 3-for-4 to raise his Cactus League average to a healthy .480 (12-for-25), he made an outstanding diving stop of a hard shot down the line by Daniel Nava to end the second inning.

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"He had a great game," manager Scott Servais said. "Romero is really swinging the bat well and made a nice play at first base. It was a really, really good day for him."

Romero has made three late-inning appearances at first in other games and continues gaining confidence in a position he hasn't played much since his college days at Oregon State.

"You can take ground balls a thousand times a day, but it won't match up to game speed as much as you try to practice it, with the fans, the crowd, a live pitcher throwing," Romero said. "So you just try to slow it down as much as possible."

"He's looked very comfortable at first," Servais said. "I know he's got infield in his background. I think he came out of college as a third baseman. He looked good yesterday. I know he played in the split-squad some, but it's the first time I've seen him back at first since he took the ball on his knee. But he's swung the bat really well and he's certainly in the mix for that spot."

The Mariners are looking at Jesus Montero and Dae-Ho Lee as right-handed hitting first basemen, but veteran Gaby Sanchez was released on Sunday. Lee went 2-for-3 with a double on Tuesday and is batting .286, while Montero singled in one at-bat and is batting .280.

Romero would provide additional versatility in the outfield and he's hit well at Triple-A the past few years, but just .192 in 198 at-bats with the Mariners.

Servais sees potential there, however, from a player who batted .292 with 17 homers and 79 RBIs in 116 games for Tacoma last season.

"I can go off what I've seen," he said. "It's the consistency of his at-bats. He's not up just dead-head hacking. He usually has a plan. Situationally, he's done a very good job of getting guys in from third. His two-strike approach has been very good. It's consistent, competitive at-bats. He's faced all kinds of pitching and handling himself very well."

Worth noting

• Wade Miley allowed one single with no walks and four strikeouts in four innings of a simulated game against Minor League hitters Tuesday as the veteran lefty got in his work on the Peoria practice field rather than face the division-rival Angels for the second time this spring.

• Charlie Furbush played catch at 60 feet without any issues in his shoulder and will do so again on Wednesday before the Mariners decide the next step for the lefty reliever, who experienced tightness in his triceps after his last throwing session a week ago.

• Closer Steve Cishek hasn't pitched in a Cactus League game since March 6 due to tightness in his biceps, but he emerged from a 20-pitch bullpen session with no issues and is slated for an inning of work in Thursday's game against the A's in Mesa.

• Catcher Steve Clevenger missed a second straight day due to illness, but reliever Tony Zych returned after dealing with a stomach issue on Monday.

• Outfielder Seth Smith will be held out of games for a few days after his left groin muscle tightened up during Monday's 8-3 Cactus League loss to the D-backs in Scottsdale. Smith said he tweaked his leg while fielding a ball in the outfield, but stayed in the game and later made a long running catch and then tripled.

• Servais confirmed that right-handed reliever Evan Scribner, sidelined since early in camp with a strained lat, won't be ready before Opening Day, but said he had no timetable beyond that.