PEORIA, Ariz. -- It's only been one session off the bullpen mound so far, but manager Scott Servais liked what he saw from Max Povse in his initial work and said the lanky right-hander appears more comfortable as he's returned to a starting role this spring.The Mariners experimented with converting
PEORIA, Ariz. -- It's only been one session off the bullpen mound so far, but manager Scott Servais liked what he saw from Max Povse in his initial work and said the lanky right-hander appears more comfortable as he's returned to a starting role this spring.
The Mariners experimented with converting Povse into a reliever midway through last season after a strong starting stint in Double-A Arkansas, but the 6-foot-8 hurler struggled at Triple-A Tacoma and in three outings for Seattle while working out of the bullpen.
With Erasmo Ramirez already sidelined by a strained lat, the Mariners' rotation figures to need depth again and the 24-year-old Povse will get plenty of opportunities this spring. Ariel Miranda figures to be the next man up in the rotation if Ramirez is out long, but Povse and Andrew Moore are next in line.
Servais has already seen a different confidence in those youngsters.
"I think the newer guys, the Max Povses and Andrew Moores, they've been in big league camp and in the big leagues before so we're seeing the more real person," he said. "Last year at this time it was wide eyes and trying to impress people. I just think it's a comfort level where they are right now and as they move forward."
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Povse is an intriguing prospect with a high arm angle and imposing frame.
"We tried something out of the bullpen last year and it didn't really line up maybe with his demeanor and what he's done in the past," Servais said. "Some guys can make the transition quickly. We've seen what Dan Altavilla and Art Warren have done. It didn't work quite as swiftly with Max, but he looks comfortable now and that's the big thing."
The Felix report
Felix Hernandez wasn't in midseason form in his first bullpen outing on Saturday, but that was just fine with Servais as he wants to see the 31-year-old build up over the spring and peak when the season opens in six weeks.
"I wouldn't say he's at the top of his game, but he looked healthy," Servais said Sunday. "I would not expect him to be at the top of his game. Quite frankly I'd be disappointed, because it could only go down. I thought the effort he gave was really good. I know it's a little early for him. Is he game ready? No. I wouldn't expect him to be. But I was very happy with it."
• Nelson Cruz arrived on Sunday as veteran position players continued trickling in prior to Monday's report date. All players must be in camp for physicals Monday and the first full-squad workout will be Tuesday.
• Guillermo Heredia is well ahead of schedule in his return from shoulder surgery and is already doing defensive work with the other outfielders in camp. If he's cleared to go after Monday's physical exams, he'll be able to take batting practice and do all the normal work on Tuesday.
• David Phelps and Tony Zych, two relievers who had health issues at the end of last year, threw well in their initial bullpens. Most of the Mariners' pitchers will throw one more bullpen session, then a live batting practice before Cactus League games begin Friday.
Phelps and Zych still might be held out of game action a little longer than the rest, but only as a precaution.
• Hisashi Iwakuma is limited to long toss for now, but the veteran right-hander said he hopes to take the mound sometime in March as he rehabs from October shoulder surgery. Iwakuma began playing catch about three weeks ago and says he's now throwing at about 60-70 percent intensity at 120 feet.
"I'm trying to get back to where I want to be," Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki. "It's picking up."
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.