The Seattle Mariners took a chance this off-season by signing veteran pitcher Jon Garland to minor league deal with an invite to spring training. Seattle made a similar move last season, when they signed veteran Kevin Millwood to a comparable deal.
Millwood was seemingly washed up after 15 MLB seasons, but was able to put together a very respectable year, posting a 4.25 ERA in 28 starts, including the first six innings of a combined no-hitter in 2012. The Mariners hope to get similar production from Garland this year.
Garland is 33-years old and is going into 13th MLB season. He has not pitched since June 2011 as he missed all of last year with injuries to his rotator cuff and labrum. He shook off the rust, making his first appearance in close to two years on Feb. 28, not allowing a run in one inning of work.
The righty was very happy to take the mound again, telling Greg Johns of MLB.com “I just haven’t been out there in so long, with umpires, in uniform and throwing to guys like that … I’ve thrown bullpens and thrown on the back fields. But until you get in that game situation and the blood going, you don’t really know how you’ll feel. It was a little different, but it felt good to get out there and throw strikes and keep the ball down.”
Garland has been an extreme contact pitcher throughout his career, having a K/9 rate of a mere 4.86 and only averaging 88.3 mph on his fastball when last pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011. He will have to take the role of a crafty veteran if he wants to make this roster.
Right now, Erasmo Ramirez is leading candidate to pitch in the fifth spot in the rotation, but nothing is set in stone. Garland is competition for the spot along with fellow veteran Jeremy Bonderman and prospect Brandon Maurer.