Brandon Morrow switching roles … again

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I’ve been impressed with the Mariners’ new regime, as first-year
general manager Jack Zduriencik and company have made some nice moves
at the margins of the roster–focusing primarily on low-cost free
agents and improving the defense–without overhauling things
completely.

The team is 28-30 after losing 101 games last season, but one of my
few criticisms of the Zduriencik front office so far was the decision
to convert Brandon Morrow into a full-time reliever at the age of 24.
However, it sounds like those plans have now been scrapped.

After struggling in the closer role and eventually giving way to David
Aardsma in the ninth inning, Morrow reportedly approached the Mariners
recently about becoming a starter again and the new plan is for the
former University of California ace to build up arm strength back at
Triple-A.

Morrow has started just 15 total games between the majors and minors
since the Mariners made him the fifth overall pick in the 2005 draft,
so he figures to be at Triple-A for a while. However, ultimately giving
a young pitcher with outstanding raw stuff the opportunity to sink or
swim in a 200-inning role before moving him to a 70-inning role is
almost always the right call (see: Chamberlain, Joba).

Through his first 121 appearances, 116 of which have come out of the
bullpen, Morrow has a 4.06 ERA, 161/98 K/BB ratio, and .216 opponents’
batting average in 146 innings. It remains to be seen whether his shaky
control will be any less of a problem working every fifth day for
80-100 pitches rather than every 2-3 days for 15-30 pitches, but it
certainly makes sense to find out.

Assuming that he doesn’t change his mind again next week, of course.

Video: Jaime Garcia hits a 399-foot grand slam

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Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.

The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.

Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.

As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:

Ryon Healy exits game after taking a ground ball to the face

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Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.

Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.

Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.