SEATTLE — Following a solid July “spring training” showing for a youthful Seattle Mariners’ roster, Art Warren had high hopes to make the 30-man Opening Day roster for the big league club ahead of today’s season debut.
Unfortunately for the Napoleon grad, Thursday did not include a spot on the season-opening roster as Warren will compete in practices and simulated games for the Mariners’ taxi squad of 30 players going forward.
“I’m disappointed I didn’t make the Opening Day roster,” admitted Warren, who started the season with the franchise’s Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma but was invited to spring training with the big league squad in February before the coronavirus halted the MLB season. “I’m (angry) about it. I’m not afraid to admit it. It’s going to be in Tacoma, workouts, some game action. It’s going to get monotonous and repetitive facing the same hitters, around 25 to 30 guys.
“It’s a matter of getting creative and keeping guys in the same mindset. You make do and stay ready for whenever you get the call.”
The 27-year-old righthander made a pair of appearances for the club in a spring training setting, allowing six runs in one full inning of work with a pair of strikeouts.
Each MLB team will have a 30-man roster for the first two weeks of the season before dropping to 28 players and then 26 two weeks after that. A three-player taxi squad will travel with the major league roster for road trips, with a catcher and two other players providing emergency help for the team in case of a last-minute positive COVID test that would sideline a main roster player.
The remaining players from the 60-man roster will bide their time of the 60-game season at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, located 34 miles south of Seattle.
Though minor league seasons across the country and across the minor league system have been canceled this season, Warren is essentially back at Triple-A for the near future, pending a possible call-up to the Mariners.
“It’s essentially a (bigger) taxi squad, the logistics and optics of it,” explained Warren. “It’s basically being optioned to Triple-A and so normally when you get optioned, you have to stay down for at least 10 days. 10 days in a season like this is essentially a month.”
After making his major league debut in a September call-up last season and earning a victory in relief in one of his six appearances for the Mariners, the decision certainly stung Warren.
“I’m not going to hide my feelings, I’m pretty upset I’m not on the Opening Day roster,” said Warren. “I’m going to continue to work hard and give myself the best opportunity to play going forward.”
Warren did not feel resigned to his fate however, with the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus pandemic and the new season beginning this week.
“It’s going to be a coin flip every game in terms of the virus hitting or not,” said the 6-3 righty. “Once it does, the problem is how do you manage it properly. Guys on the taxi squad are staying ready as well and we need to take the proper precautions to be ready in case we’re called on.
“It comes down to staying locked in and staying healthy, not just in baseball shape but for the virus as well.”
A last-minute expansion from 10 to 16 total playoff teams on Thursday furthers the “why not us?” idea that all 30 MLB teams have taken on to an extent, something Warren noted as well.
“Any team has a chance with a 60-game season,” said the former Wildcat. “If the Mariners start off hot, it’s encouraging. You always hear the cliche, you want to be as strong as the weakest link. If I’m the X option for them in terms of pitchers, I want to be the best option I can be.”