Report: Mariners prospect Michael Pineda favored for rotation spot

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Mariners prospect right-hander Michael Pineda has garnered all sorts of attention this spring by flashing mid-to-high 90s heat on the radar gun.

And while spring training performances aren’t the be-all end-all, he has also pitched pretty well, posting a 2.57 ERA and 5/3 K/BB ratio over his first seven Cactus League innings. Still, the assumption has been that the 22-year-old will remain in the minor leagues until June in an effort to delay his service time.

Not so, at least according to what Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times has heard from multiple sources. In fact, Baker hears that the final spot in the starting rotation is “Pineda’s to lose.”

Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik won’t confirm Baker’s report, but said that Pineda’s service time won’t have an impact on his decision.

“I don’t think we’re going to worry about service time,” Zduriencik told me. “No one’s going to hold them back. If they’re ready to play, we’re going to let them play.”

In other words, if he continues to pitch well, he’s in.

Standing at 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds, Pineda has a 2.49 ERA over parts of five seasons in the minors. After being limited to 47 1/3 innings in 2009 due to elbow soreness, he posted a 3.36 ERA over 25 starts between Double-A West Tennessee and Triple-A Tacoma last season, averaging 9.9 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9.

Nate Robertson needs elbow surgery and Zduriencik essentially dismissed David Pauley as an option during today’s conversation with Baker, so that leaves Luke French as the only reasonable alternative to Pineda.

Report: Tigers to hire Ron Gardenhire as new manager

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The Tigers are expected to hire Ron Gardenhire as the team’s new manager upon completion of a contract, per Ken Rosenthal and Katie Strang of The Athletic. Gardenhire, 59, spent the 2017 season serving as the bench coach for the Diamondbacks.

Gardenhire managed the Twins for 13 seasons between 2002-14, amassing a 1,068-1,039 (.507) record in the regular season and reaching the playoffs six times.

According to Strang and Rosenthal, Gardenhire was one of 10 candidates to interview with the Tigers. Others included Alex Cora, Mike Redmond, Fredi Gonzalez, Joe McEwing, Hensley Meulens, Dave Clark, and Omar Vizquel. Apparently, GM Al Avila wanted a manager with previous major league managing experience.

The Tigers parted ways with previous manager Brad Ausmus at the end of the 2017 regular season, his fourth year at the helm.