MESA, Ariz. -- One upside to injuries to first basemen Ryon Healy and Daniel Vogelbach in the first week of camp? For the Mariners, it's a chance to get an unexpected early look at Evan White, last year's first-round Draft pick and the club's No. 2 prospect as ranked by
MESA, Ariz. -- One upside to injuries to first basemen Ryon Healy and Daniel Vogelbach in the first week of camp? For the Mariners, it's a chance to get an unexpected early look at Evan White, last year's first-round Draft pick and the club's No. 2 prospect as ranked by MLB Pipeline.
White played just 14 games at short-season Class A Everett last year before being sidelined by a left quadriceps injury and isn't in Major League camp, but he has been called over from a Minor League mini-camp to provide backup help at first base in the Mariners' initial Cactus League games.
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While the 21-year-old White, who went 0-for-1 in Monday's 9-9 tie with the Cubs at Sloan Park, is still looking for his first hit in limited action, he's flashed his trademark standout glove in the field and he's conducted himself well despite the quick ascension.
The chance to sit in in the dugout with Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz, and look across the diamond and see Clayton Kershaw warming up has been an eye-opener for the former Kentucky standout.
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"It's fun," White said. "I said some stuff to Kershaw before the game [on Sunday], which was pretty cool. And all the guys we have as well. It's just fun to be out here and playing the great game of baseball."
It didn't hurt that White made an outstanding play at first base in his first game on Saturday against the White Sox, doing a full-split stretch and picking a low throw out of the dirt with the kind of natural ease that reinforced his selection to the 2018 All-Defense prospect team by MLB Pipeline.
"It kind of just happened," White said. "I don't think I could stretch like that on command if I had to. You just go out there and have fun with it."
"That glove is pretty special," manager Scott Servais said. "It's what we'd heard. He's handled himself great. He's a really good athlete."
Vogelbach is due back in a few days, but White will continue to get playing time this spring before he's sent out out to begin the season, likely in Class A ball.
"it's important for all young guys, but certainly our higher-profile guys that we took higher in the Draft, I'm anxious to see them and how they handle and fit in," Servais said. "He looks very comfortable out there. He's a baseball player. He wants the ball hit to him. He wants to make the nice pick in the dirt or different things like that. I like what I've seen so far."
The Mariners built a 9-2 lead in Monday's Cactus League game with a trio of home runs -- a three-run shot by Dee Gordon and solo blast by Matt Hague in the second, along with a grand slam from Minor League infielder Seth Mejias-Brean in the seventh -- before the Cubs rallied to tie it.
"We did a lot of good things today offensively," Servais said. "Unfortunately it got away from us a little in the late innings."
On the mend
Servais said right fielder Mitch Haniger's sore right hand is doing well and he could be playing in games in the next day or two. Haniger has been doing everything except hitting for the last four days, just as a precaution.
Vogelbach was back out on the practice field on Monday after missing two days with a bruised right foot after getting hit by a pitch in Friday's Cactus League opener. He hopes to return to game action in the next few days.
Healy's return will be much slower as he recovers from surgery to remove a bone spur in his right hand, but he took ground balls on Monday for the first time since his Feb. 14 procedure. While he still needs to be careful to protect the hand and won't be able to start swinging a bat for several more weeks, the 26-year-old was thrilled to finally join his new teammates for workouts, even in a limited fashion.
"I am so excited to get out on the field, touch some dirt," he said with a smile. "I might just slide real quick, just to get dirty. I've been throwing the lacrosse ball against the wall in the weight room, that's about as much as my entertainment has been going."
The Mariners' first of their two split-squad days for the spring will be on Tuesday, with James Paxton making his first Cactus League start against the Padres at 12:10 p.m. PT in Peoria on MLB.TV, while Andrew Moore starts against the Royals at 12:05 p.m. in Surprise. Moore threw two hitless innings on Friday in his debut against the Padres.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.