PEORIA, Ariz. -- With just 18 days until the regular season opens, the Mariners sent eight players to Minor League camp on Sunday, including young outfielders Braden Bishop and Ian Miller and right-hander Max Povse, all ranked among the club's top 20 prospects by MLB Pipeline.Also sent down were two
PEORIA, Ariz. -- With just 18 days until the regular season opens, the Mariners sent eight players to Minor League camp on Sunday, including young outfielders Braden Bishop and Ian Miller and right-hander Max Povse, all ranked among the club's top 20 prospects by MLB Pipeline.
Also sent down were two outfielders with Major League experience, Cameron Perkins and Junior Lake, as well as first baseman Matt Hague, outfielder Andrew Aplin and left-handed reliever Sam Moll. The Mariners now have 44 players remaining in big league camp.
Bishop, the club's No. 5 prospect, impressed the Mariners in his first Major League camp and hit .381 (8-for-21) with a double and triple in 12 games. Miller, the No. 17 prospect, also has performed well while displaying his speed and hitting .300 (6-for-20) with five RBIs and two stolen bases. But the club added Ichiro Suzuki last week and needs regular playing time now for him and returning right fielder Mitch Haniger.
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Povse, the club's seventh-ranked prospect, was in a similar boat as he's allowed just three hits and one run over six innings, but needs to get more opportunities to stretch out now that innings are being taken up by Seattle's top starters.
Perkins, claimed off waivers from the Phillies, hit .308 in 26 spring at-bats and Lake was hitting .182 in 22 at-bats since being signed to a Minor League deal at the start of camp.
Hague was 4-for-16 with a home run in Cactus League action while playing first base, but the local product from Kentwood High and the University of Washington is behind Daniel Vogelbach and Mike Ford on the depth chart and will get more opportunities now with full Minor League camp opening Monday.
"We are trying to trim the roster down a little bit," manager Scott Servais said. "You'll see our regular guys get stretched out starting [Monday]. My philosophy this spring is we are going to get stretched out this week and not wait till the last week of camp. It's really important for me that we are fresh and ready to go when we get to Opening Day. I don't want guys hanging. So we will ramp it up this next week."
Mike Marjama, who is competing with David Freitas for the backup catcher job, was still relishing Saturday's inside-the-park home run a day later as he acknowledged it was the first of his career at any level.
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Marjama isn't your typical bulky catcher at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, but he acknowledged he felt a little wobbly trying to hit an extra gear rounding second base before feeling the adrenaline kick in as third base coach Scott Brosius waved him home.
"That's a long run," he said. "Dee Gordon definitely makes it look a little more graceful than I did. In the offseason I challenged Dee to a 40. I'm just saying, an inside-the-parker should grant a footrace with him."
• Felix Hernandez threw another long toss session out to 150 feet on Sunday and will throw off the mound in a bullpen session "in the next day or two," as he progresses from his bruised forearm. Hernandez will need one or two bullpens before returning to game action, which means he could at most start two Cactus League games before the regular season begins.
• Erasmo Ramirez said he felt good in his first throwing session Saturday as he works back from a strained right lat and played catch again Sunday.
"No pain," Ramirez said. "Now I wait. It's a long process."
Servais remains hopeful that Ramirez could return by the time the Mariners need a fifth starter in mid-April.
• Nelson Cruz was scratched from the lineup Sunday for a second consecutive day with the flu.
• Servais acknowledged that reliever Tony Zych's release on Saturday came down to his lingering shoulder and arm issues.
"When Tony is healthy, he's very effective," he said. "He's had a nice run when he is healthy and being out there. Just where he's at and in the information we're getting from our medical people, there wasn't a clear light at the end of the tunnel on his ability to help us this year. I do think Tony has a lot of baseball ahead of him. I don't know how soon that will be, so that's what went into the decision."
Marco Gonzales, who has yet to allow a run in nine innings, gets his fourth start of the spring in Monday's 6:40 p.m. PT Cactus League game against the White Sox at Peoria Stadium and will likely be extended to five innings. Edwin Diaz, Juan Nicasio and Ryan Cook are among the scheduled relievers. The game can seen on MLB.TV or heard on Gameday Audio.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.