The Spring Training schedule doesn't let up and neither do the questions that keep pouring into the Mariners mailbag. Without further ado, let's burrow into this week's 'bag.Why won't the Mariners give Willie Bloomquist a starting role instead of using him as a utility player? Second base seems to be the perfect fit for him, much better than Jose Lopez.
-- Josh B., Redmond, Wash.
This -- along with various versions of "Where's Bucky Jacobsen?" -- is probably the most common question for the 'bag, so I'll try to answer it definitively this week. The Mariners love what Bloomquist brings to the team, there's no question about that. But the things that he does so well -- providing an offensive spark via a bunt, a stolen base or clutch hit, plus solid and sometimes spectacular defense at as many as seven different positions -- dictate his situation. It's the classic situation for the "super-utility" man: He's so good at doing all the little things that the team doesn't want to lose him in that role by sticking him at one position for a whole season. Manager Mike Hargrove has termed it "a blessing and a curse." Meanwhile, the Mariners like the potential of Lopez so much that they're willing to be patient as he learns second base after spending most of his development as a shortstop.
I was wondering what the stat WHIP stands for and how do you figure out a player's WHIP?
-- Dieter V., Gig Harbor, Wash.
WHIP stands for walks and hits per innings pitched. It is computed by adding a pitcher's hits and walks and dividing that total by the innings he has pitched. In essence, it's a number that can be likened to an on-base percentage against a pitcher. It has become increasingly popular recently and is used prominently in fantasy baseball.
I've always been a huge Dan Wilson fan. I know he was hurt near the beginning of last season, but I haven't heard anything about him since then. Could you tell me what he's doing now?
-- Kurt R., Portland, Ore.
Wilson tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee early last year and retired later in the season. Lately, he's been enjoying life as a stay-at-home dad in the Seattle area with his wife and four children, and he'll continue to be a force in the local charity community. He recently spent three days in Peoria, Ariz., as a guest catching instructor at Mariners camp. On April 8 at Safeco Field, Wilson will be honored on "Dan Wilson Farewell Night" before a game against the Oakland A's.
You had a question about which numbers have been retired by the Mariners and you said that none of them have. I was wondering, how long after a player retires can their number be retired? What do you think are the chances of Edgar Martinez having his number retired?
-- Kyle M., Seattle
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Under the guidelines for selection to the Mariners Hall of Fame, here's the regulation on retirement of uniform number, taken from the media guide: "The Mariners plan to retire uniform numbers only very selectively and subject to substantially higher expectations than those applied to the Mariners Hall of Fame. To be eligible to have one's number retired, the former Mariners should have either a.) been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and been in a Mariners uniform for at least five years, or b.) come close to such election and have spent substantially his entire career with the Mariners. Eligibility shall not commence until after the former player has been voted on once for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which for all practical purposes, means six years after retirement. In this regard, the Mariners will take into consideration the policy of other American League clubs in retiring uniform numbers." So, as far as Edgar is concerned, it seems like he'll have a good chance, because he's probably going to be a serious contender for the Hall of Fame and his accomplishments as a Mariners player can't be disputed. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait until 2010 to find out.
What is the contract status of Jesse Foppert? If he needs more time to tune up while coming back from Tommy John elbow surgery, can the Mariners send him to Triple-A Tacoma again? Based on his first Spring Training appearance, the Mariners may have a pleasant surprise with Jesse.
-- Roger C., Vancouver, Wash.
Foppert has Minor League options remaining, so the Mariners can send him to the Rainiers to let him continue his recovery. He remains a contender for the big-league team, however, with one and maybe two bullpen spots open. But if the Mariners decide they're committed to beginning the season with Gil Meche in their starting rotation, which seems to be the case right now, they might want to keep Foppert on a regular five-day starter's schedule in Tacoma.
Where are the Mariners in the draft order this spring? And did they gain or lose any picks in free agency?
-- Norm M., Sutton, Alaska
The Mariners are picking fifth in the draft and did not gain or lose any picks in free agency.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.