Big Unit, nostalgia no help for slumping Mariners

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johnson-randy-100412.jpgRandy Johnson was back on a mound on Monday night, throwing out the first pitch in the Seattle Mariners’ home opener against the Oakland A’s.

The future Hall of Famer, who rose to prominence in Seattle (winning the 1995 Cy Young) before moving on to win four more Cy Youngs and a World Series title with the Arizona Diamondbacks, dealt a strike to former battery mate Dan Wilson, then was joined by current Mariner Ken Griffey Jr., Wilson, and former Seattle teammates Edgar Martinez and Jay Buhner for a photo op.

But for all the excitement of the pre-game ceremony, Johnson could do nothing to stop the Mariners’ disappointing start, as they managed just two hits against Justin Duchscherer and two relievers in a 4-0 defeat.

With Cliff Lee and Erik Bedard injured, plus Ian Snell off on personal leave, the Mariners would be wise to convince the Big Unit to delay his march toward Cooperstown by one year and get back into the game.

While they’re at it, Martinez and Buhner could probably help, too.

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Phillies sign Drew Storen and Bud Norris to minor league deals

Drew Storen
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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reported this afternoon that the Phillies signed veteran reliever Drew Storen to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. If Storen makes the major league roster, he will earn a $750,000 salary.

Storen, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2017 with the Reds. That year, he posted a 4.45 ERA with 48 strikeouts and 23 walks over 54 2/3 innings. Storen then underwent Tommy John surgery, which cost him the entire 2018 campaign. He inked a minor league deal with the Royals last year but struggled in nine appearances with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, resulting in his being released in June.

Robert Murray reports that the Phillies have also signed pitcher Bud Norris to a minor league contract. The right-hander, who turns 35 years old in March, missed the 2019 season due to a forearm injury. Norris was last seen in the majors in 2018 with the Cardinals, compiling a 3.59 ERA with 67 strikeouts and 21 walks over 57 2/3 innings of relief.

The Phillies had major bullpen problems last year and haven’t otherwise made any new additions so far this offseason. They’re hoping Storen and Norris have a little bit left in the tank.