Tag:Michael Jackson
Posted on: June 25, 2009 9:09 pm

Of Morrow and Tomorrow in Seattle

It isn't often that a team in contention experiments on the fly. But it also isn't often that a club like the Seattle Mariners has an in-between situation like Brandon Morrow's.

The 24-year-old right-hander, transitioning from the bullpen to the rotation, made his third start on Wednesday night against San Diego, threw 87 pitches and continued to build his endurance.

Morrow has provoked fierce debate in Seattle since the Mariners picked him in the first round of the 2005 draft and then installed him as their set-up man to break him into the majors in 2007. When the Mariners fell to 61-101 last year and the back end of the bullpen became less important, many folks began to rightly view Morrow's arm as being wasted.

The Mariners, thinking along the same lines under new general manager Jack Zduriencik, were going to stretch him out and make him a starter this spring. But Morrow missed some time with forearm tightness and that, combined with a bullpen that wasn't taking shape at the time, caused the Mariners to put him back in the pen to open the season.

Flash forward two months, and David Aardsma has emerged as a solid closer (15 saves), Sean White and Mark Lowe have proven serviceable and the Mariners' bullpen ranks second in the American League with a 3.16 ERA.

What the Mariners need now are starters. And that's what Morrow has decided he'd like to be.

"We realize he's a young guy with a very talented arm who needs to develop his pitches," Zduriencik says. "You're not going to do that in the closer's role. We made the decision to get Brandon more innings."

With Erik Bedard out with a sore shoulder and, a couple of weeks ago, with Jarrod Washburn nursing a pulled muscle in his back, it made sense to begin breaking Morrow into the rotation. Currently, manager Don Wakamatsu and pitching coach Rick Adair are limiting Morrow to somewhere around 95 pitches. He threw 87 in Wednesday's no-decision against San Diego.

Chris Jakubauskus, who made eight starts earlier this season for the Mariners, effectively is tag-teaming with Morrow, taking the baton from him in each of his three starts this month.

"There's no question he has the ability," Zduriencik says of Morrow.

Now, the goal?

"At the end of the year we want to say, 'He has X amount of innings, and he's pitched enough for us that we know what he can do,'" Zduriencik says.

Complicating matters, Morrow has diabetes. That brings up questions of just what Morrow's endurance will be as a starter.

Those answers, though, will come later. What the Mariners know right now is they have a young man who throws 97 mph and has a whole lot of potential. They also know they have a handful of other young pitchers who are looking for a permanent niche: Jakubauskus, White, Garrett Olson, Shawn Kelly and Mark Lowe in particular.

"They're trying to figure out exactly what they are," says Zduriencik, who has done an exceptional job in hurrying along the Mariners' rebuilding efforts. "They're fitting into their roles very nicely right now.

"We have a lot of nice arms here. A lot of talented guys. In Brandon's case in particular, he just needs to pitch. And we're making an attempt to get him that opportunity."

Likes: Johan Santana vs. Chris Carpenter on Thursday. ... A new haircut and a home run for Detroit's Magglio Ordonez, within 24 hours of each other. It was a career high 40-game homerless drought for Ordonez, who is auctioning off his hair on eBay for charity. Great line by manager Jim Leyland, too: "If I had hair like that, I'd still be single." ... Excellent (and poignant) piece here at Athletics Nation on the A's 1989 World Series trophy and how it rings hollow today, particularly within the recent and poorly attended 1989 celebration and the Jose Canseco-Carney Lansford war of words. Ugly, ugly, ugly. ...

Dislikes: Sleep well, Farrah. I'll always remember you on the wall of my room as a grade schooler. Me and thousands of others.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I took my baby to the doctor
"With a fever, but nothing he found
"By the time this hit the street
"They said she had a breakdown
"Someone's always tryin'
"To start my baby cryin'
"Talkin', squealin', lyin'
"Sayin' you just wanna be starting something"

-- Michael Jackson, Wanna Be Starting Something

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com