Free agent Jayson Werth, a 15-year veteran MLB outfielder who hit .226 with 10 homers in 70 games with Washington in 2017, signed a minor league contract with the Mariners Tuesday, and will work in extended spring training until he’s ready to join AAA Tacoma.
Werth, who will be 39 in May, has 229 career homers with four teams, including the past seven seasons with the Nationals, with whom he finished a $126 million contract last year.
“Jerry (Dipoto) mentioned it me about a week ago,” manager Scott Servais told reporters in Peoria Tuesday. “I don’t have any history with him. Obviously looking from afar, he’s been on a lot of winning teams and he knows how to play and controls the strike zone very well. He’s a good veteran presence in the clubhouse.
“He was looking for an opportunity to extend his career. Our group felt we had some opportunity and some at-bats at the Triple A level. He certainly hasn’t had any spring training. So he’ll stay down here a while to get some at-bats in extended spring training.”
The Mariners seem set in the outfield with Dee Gordon in center, Mitch Haniger in right and and Ben Gamel/Guillermo Heredia/Ichiro in left. But Ichiro, destined for a reserve role, went 0-for-3 in Tuesday’s Cactus League finale against Colorado — the Mariners won 5-3 to finish spring at 16-14-2, whatever that means — and was hitless in 10 at-bats in regulation games. He’s been bothered by a sore calf, and also missed time after being struck on the back of the helmet by a pitch.
“Unfortunately the leg injury with Ichiro slowed him down in the number of at-bats he can get and the comfort level he’s got,” Servais told reporters after the game. “It’s more about just getting him healthy and making sure he’s good to go when the bell rings on Thursday.
“The leg is what worries me, making sure he can move around, There’s nothing he’s guarding against in left field. Being able to cover the ground he needs to get to out there. You can’t protect him in the field.”
Ichiro will come north with the club. The Mariners have until 1 p.m. Thursday to finalize their 25-man roster, and it’s possible he could go on the disabled list.
Meanwhile, 1B Daniel Vogelbach finished his star turn in spring Tuesday with a three-run homer, his seventh of the spring, bringing his final average to .407, his OPB to .529 and his OPS to 1.455, all club highs.
“Vogelbomb ended his spring the right way,” Servais said after the game. “Danny had an awesome spring. It’s nice to see him complete it that way. You figured he was going to hit the ball hard somewhere. I’m hoping it continues. He’ll get a few starts here early this season and hopefully he stays hot.”
The Mariners open the regular season at 7:10 p.m. Thursday at Safeco Field against the Cleveland Indians, who will start ace Corey Kluber against Felix Hernandez, making his 10th consecutive opening-game start. Scattered single tickets and standing-room-only tickets remain.