SEATTLE — Kentucky has its thoroughbreds and Indy has its fast cars, but in the northwest part of the country a different brand of race has become engrained into sporting tradition.
It’s the race for baseball’s Protected Draft Picks.
Only the 10 teams with the worst records in baseball receive the coveted “PDPs” — as savvy Seattle fans have taken to calling the protected picks. As such, the Mariners have made an annual tradition of questing for one of the slots.
“Once the Collective Bargaining Agreement came out and we saw this provision, we were immediately, like, ‘Hey, we can do this,'” said new Mariner President Kevin Mather, who previously was in charge of ballpark operations. “This just sort of screams ‘Mariners!’ So we think it’s kind of big deal.”
Area fans have been known to mark their calendars months in advance for series with the Houston Astros.
“I know it’s early,” Area Mariner fan Joe Kabarco said, “but I always sneak a peek at the Reverse Standings — especially when Houston is in town.”
Indeed, every matchup with the Astros is fraught with PDP implications, and the players can sense it.
“Sure, the series with the ‘Stros is always something a little bit special,” said Charlie Furbush, a relative Mariner veteran who joined the organization in 2011. “The atmosphere changes because every game is fraught with PDP implications. Wait … did I just say ‘fraught with implications’? Does that make me like the first human not a sportswriter or sports broadcaster to say ‘fraught with implications’? Whoa!”
The organization admits that sometimes the situation is awkward. “We’ve got to let Felix [Hernandez] go for the Cy Young, of course,” said Mariner Manager Lloyd McClendon, “but every few games he’ll cooperate with the bigger team goal. Take Monday night, for example.”
Hernandez yielded six runs (only two earned) that night when the Astros took a 7-2 victory from Seattle.
And newcomer Robinson Cano has been adjusting quickly.
“I think it was hard at first, coming from the Yankees and all,” Furbush said, “but Felix sat him down and explained the whole deal with the seleccion del draft protegida. So, three doubles in his first 19 games … he’s down with it for sure.”
Mather notes that Cano signed a 10-year deal to play in Seattle. “We’ve been joking around,” he said, “that Robby will have a PDP ring on each finger when he’s done! Well, we sure hope so.”
- After five rainouts, Tacoma got in seven innings before … rain. But they squeezed in eight runs in that time.
- And half of those were rung up by Chris Taylor, who had a three-run homer and then a solo shot, and tacked on a double for good measure. That pushed Taylor’s SLG up to .636. James Jones and Cole Gillespie joined him in the home run column.
- The last two runs came off of Sacramento bullpenner Phil Humber — actually on the two-year anniversary of his 2012 perfect game against the Mariners. [Another key moment in PDP history, of course.]
- AA Jackson didn’t have the shortened-game problem. The Generals were knotted at 5-5 at the end of regulation, and neither team scored until Chattanooga went ahead in the top of the 18th. They had to play the back nine, I guess. Stephen Kohlscheen (3.0 IP, 5 K) and Mayckol Guaipe (3.0 IP, 4 K) did yeoman pen work.
- High Desert racked up 14 runs, with catcher Tyler Marlette providing a homer, two singles and a steal. Our favorite little speedball Aaron Barbosa had three walks to bring his season total to 10 in 12 games.
- D.J. Peterson was pinch-hit-for in the 3rd, but I haven’t been able to find out any information as to why. Promotion to Jackson would be nicer than injury.
- Marcus Littlewood homered for Clinton. Edwin Diaz survived with only one earned run despite seven hits in 4.1 IP. Emilio Pagan got his fourth save, and has given up only one walk and one earned run in 9.0 IP so far.