Right fielder Stefen Romero, shortstop Nick Franklin, and promising outfield prospect Jabari Blash all homered in an abbreviated Mariners’ intrasquad game Tuesday at the team’s spring training complex in Peoria, AZ.
With Seattle’s roster divided into two teams and many expected major league starters sitting out, the “visiting” Mariners beat the “home” Mariners 4-3.
Romero gave the “home” team a lead in the first inning when he sent a first-pitch fastball over the wall in center field for a two-run homer. Romero, 25, batted .277/.331/.448 in 93 games last season with the Triple-A Tacoma. Romero is expected to compete with outfielder Abraham Almonte for the fourth outfield spot.
Romero was 1-for-2 with a pair of runs batted in. Almonte, meanwhile, hit leadoff for the visiting Mariners, going 1-for-3 with a run scored and two strikeouts.
In the third inning, Franklin displayed the power that helped him last season on his way to 12 home runs, 45 runs batted in and a .382 slugging percentage in 412 plate appearances. Batting from the right side, the switch-hitter crushed an opposite-field, two-run home run off Double-A Jackson pitcher James Gilheeney.
The day’s highlight came from prospect Jabari Blash, a six-foot-five, 224-pound outfielder who finished last season with the Mariners’ Double-A affiliate. Leading off the fourth inning, Blash was hit by a pitch.
Before he could walk to first base, a coach yelled, “Stay in there and hit!”
Blash obeyed, worked the count to 3-1, then hit a ball that cleared the storage container that sits about 70 feet beyond the fence in left field, which measures 340 feet. The blast tied the game at three and Blash finished 2-for-2. Left fielder Xavier Avery eventually drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth and final inning.
There were other positive signs.
After reporting to camp forty pounds overweight, first baseman Jesus Montero showed he can still hit a fastball. He also showed he is slower than former NBA center Patrick Ewing was when he played the penultimate year of his career (2000-01) for the Seattle SuperSonics.
Seattle Times Mariners beat writer Ryan Divish saw Montero run, then shared his perspective.
— Adam Lewis (@AdamLewisSPNW) February 25, 2014
— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) February 25, 2014
Divish shot a video with his phone that provided more evidence of Montero’s ongoing struggle to stay trim. The former top prospect was thrown out at second base by 10 feet when he tried to stretch a hit down the left-field line into a double. He finished 2-for-2.
Third base coach sidelined
Mariners third base coach John Stearns might miss his chance to break camp with the major league club.
Stearns underwent surgery Monday to repair a hiatal hernia and will miss the next four to six weeks, manager Lloyd McClendon said Tuesday. The club is discussing options for a replacement, presumably one that could serve an interim role.
Stearns, 62, reported to camp and complained of discomfort in his upper abdomen. Shortly after, doctors determined surgery was necessary. The procedure took place at Arrowhead Hospital in Glendale.
After replacing Rainiers manager Daren Brown last May, Stearns led Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate to a 59-58 record before earning a promotion this offseason.