Is Jason Bay the Mariners' projected Opening Day left fielder or designated hitter? If not, what is his role going to be? -- Matthew W., St. Peters, Mo.
Going into Spring Training, the Mariners just want to see where Bay is, as he's coming off a tough stretch with the Mets. They're eager to see how the former All-Star will do in a more relaxed situation and with a fresh start, but there are no promises and tempered expectations. Right now the starting outfield figures to be Michael Saunders, Franklin Gutierrez and, perhaps, Casper Wells splitting time with Raul Ibanez, with DH duties likely falling to Kendrys Morales, Jesus Montero and Ibanez.
Eric Thames and Carlos Peguero will also go to camp competing for outfield spots, and it's possible that general manager Jack Zduriencik could still add to the outfield mix. What role Bay plays -- or whether he even makes the team -- will depend on how he does this spring. The Mariners value his veteran leadership, and if he hits and looks like a guy who can help, I'm sure they'll find room for him. If not, his contract only has a $500,000 guarantee.
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Do you think Michael Bourn would be a fit for the Mariners? -- Joshua J., Boise, Idaho
I've said all along that Bourn could be an interesting option for the Mariners, as he's a quality player who would help almost any team he joined. In Seattle's case, a natural leadoff hitter who is one of the better defensive center fielders in the game would certainly be a nice piece of the puzzle to add for the long run. The trade for Morales brought a middle-of-the-order threat, so Bourn made even more sense to me after they addressed that other need.
However, with the subsequent signing of Ibanez, the outfield is pretty crowded with candidates, and unless Zduriencik moves Gutierrez or Saunders in a trade, it seems less likely now that they'll make a big push for Bourn. But the offseason isn't over, and the Mariners are still trying to upgrade their offense, so we'll see.
Who do you think will work with Rick Rizzs next year, and can you say anything about possible outside candidates? -- Noah Y., Sandusky, Ohio
The Mariners haven't finished the process of hiring a radio sidekick for Rizzs. All they've announced is that they'll definitely be going with just one permanent broadcaster to work alongside Rizzs, instead of the radio rotation they used for the last two seasons after the passing of Hall of Famer Dave Niehaus.
Dave Sims and Mike Blowers will return as the TV tandem. I suspect we'll hear something in the next month or so on the new radio voice.
Where does Carlos Triunfel fit in at short with the addition of Robert Andino? Does he bring any trade value or is he a part of the plan? -- Joe A., Ellensburg, Wash.
Brendan Ryan figures to go into camp as the starting shortstop, with Andino also competing for that job or the role of utility infielder as a solid veteran acquired from the Orioles for Trayvon Robinson. All it takes is one injury to change things in a hurry, but for now, Triunfel would seem likely to start the year in Tacoma. Remember though, he's only 22 and Ryan is a free agent after this year.
Michael Saunders was one home run away from being a 20-homer, 20-steal guy. How many players did that last year? -- Matt L., Mount Vernon, Wash.
It is a pretty good achievement to reach 20/20 status, which hasn't been done by a Mariner since Mike Cameron in 2002. Saunders came up just shy with 19 home runs and 21 stolen bases. Last year there were 10 players to pull it off in the Majors, including three in the AL -- Mike Trout (30 HR, 49 SB), B.J. Upton (28-31) and Alex Rios (25-23). The NL's 20/20 players were Ryan Braun (41-30), Andrew McCutchen (31-20), Jason Heyward (27-21), Ian Desmond (25-21), Hanley Ramirez (24-21), Jimmy Rollins (23-30) and Carlos Gonzalez (22-20).
Last season, the Mariners hosted a Supreme Court after Felix Hernandez pitched his perfect game. It was electric and the sight of a stadium filled with yellow shirts and signs was amazing. Will there be any more Supreme Courts that we can look forward to? -- Jacob M., Tacoma, Wash.
According to Kevin Martinez, the Mariners' vice president of marketing, that has been a popular question this offseason and the club is thinking about building a Supreme Court-type scenario around Hernandez's first start at Safeco Field next season, though nothing has been finalized.
The smaller King's Court will definitely return, with T-shirts and placards given to every fan who purchases a ticket for the special seating area down the left-field line for every Hernandez start. Martinez said fans again will be able to vote on the specific T-shirt design, which they hope to have up sometime in January on mariners.com.