Inbox: Does Montero have a shot at Opening Day roster?
Beat reporter Greg Johns fields fans' questions
Can you construct a scenario where Jesus Montero breaks camp on the Mariners' 25-man roster?
-- Keith P., Tacoma, Wash.
The most obvious avenue for Montero would be if either Nelson Cruz or Logan Morrison gets injured. If Montero made as much progress this summer as the Mariners hope, his right-handed bat could provide an option at the designated hitter spot should something happen to Cruz. Whether Montero is a realistic contender to play first base behind Morrison is something that won't be answered until Spring Training.
Barring injuries, it will be tougher to find a roster opening, given Montero's limited defensive flexibility. If the Mariners go with 12 pitchers (five starters and seven relievers), they'll have room for four bench players. That normally means a backup catcher, a utility infielder and two backup outfielders. But Seattle could go with just one extra outfielder since Cruz can play a corner spot if needed and newcomer Justin Ruggiano is capable of playing all three spots. That might open a spot for Montero, who could be helpful as a right-handed bat at DH, first base and as a third catcher option, though the Mariners haven't given any indication he'll be tried again at that position.
Any chance Willie Bloomquist will be ready to play in April? If not, what are the alternatives?
-- Ed B., Seattle
Last time I saw Bloomquist, he was just starting to do some light running in December as he returns from microfracture knee surgery. He said then that he'd likely be limited early in camp, but expected to be ready to go by the start of the season. If he's not ready, Brad Miller or Chris Taylor -- whoever doesn't win the starting shortstop job -- is a likely utility candidate. Non-roster invitee Carlos Rivero, who played last year in the Red Sox system and had a strong offseason in the Dominican Republic, is another utility option.
Why is ROOT Sports off the air?
-- Clyde C., Sagle, Idaho
ROOT remains on the air in Seattle and most markets, though I'm told a few small cable systems around the Northwest could have had their affiliate agreements with ROOT expire at the end of the year.
I know Max Scherzer and James Shields will command big money, but don't you think it may be worth it for the Mariners? The rotation struggled in September and relying heavily on young guys like James Paxton, Taijuan Walker and Roenis Elias may cause a similar September in 2015.
-- Chris S., Boise, Idaho
As Scherzer just proved by signing for $210 million over seven years with the Nats, those guys are indeed commanding big money. Of course the Mariners would love to have either, but remember, Seattle already has two of the highest-paid players in MLB history in Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez. Teams that put a huge percentage of their payroll into just a few players rarely succeed in a sport that requires help from everyone on the 25-man roster. The Mariners are trying to spread their remaining resources out in order to field a quality team, and they've looked this offseason to spend more on offense by adding Cruz, Seth Smith and Ruggiano, as well as extending Kyle Seager to a $100 million deal over seven years.
I'm going to be attending FanFest, but I was curious if there was going to be any extra cost for certain activities there besides the $10 for entrance?
-- Dylan U., Rochester, Wash.
Parking at the Safeco Field garage is $5 in advance or $10 as you drive up, both Saturday and Sunday, at this weekend's event. The only other cost would be food. Kids 14 and under are free.
I have not heard of any teams interested in Chris Young. Should the Mariners consider signing him for some more depth at starting pitcher?
-- Robert D., Tacoma, Wash.
Things indeed have been surprisingly quiet this offseason regarding Young, thanks in part to a slow-developing market for pitchers in general. The Mariners don't seem to have a spot after trading for J.A. Happ, but then they didn't seem to have a need at this time last year and then wound up getting 29 starts, 12 wins and a Comeback Player of the Year Award from the big right-hander after injuries cropped up during Spring Training.
I don't know where Young will land, but whoever does sign him will get a quality veteran pitcher and great teammate who should be even stronger this year, now that he's fully healthy and had an offseason to rest and work out.