Morrow pushing hard for spot on M's opening day roster

When the Mariners failed to draft local phenom Tim Lincecum in the first round of the 2006 draft with the No. 5 pick, there was righteous indignation among Seattle fans, who wondered how a team who was floundering so bad could miss out on the public relations coup that would come from drafting the local University of Washington hero.

Surprisingly, the Mariners front office -- so inept over the past few years -- might have actually known more than their fans.

The guy they actually drafted, Brandon Morrow, has been virtually unhittable this spring. The Mariners' brass insisted last year they would bring the 22-year-old righty slowly, but he might be forcing manager Mike Hargrove's hand -- especially with closer J.J. Putz hampered by elbow troubles.

Morrow's line so far this spring: 7.1 innings, two hits, four baserunners ... zero runs. While managers and fans alike have to have a healthy skepticism when it comes to spring stats, Morrow's shown an upper-90s fastball combined with a devastating splitter -- the kind of stuff that could can get hitters out at any level.

The Mariners still plan to eventually make him a starter, but they're talking at this point about making him a set-up man, given the spring troubles of veterans George Sherril and Arthur Rhodes.

But if they don't put this guy on their major league roster -- and there's evidence to suggest they might continue their "bring pitchers along slowly" philosophy -- they're nuts. This isn't an 18-year-old kid fresh out of high school. This is a guy who pitched 100 innings last year between California in the Pac-10 and Class A ball.

You've got to at least see what a guy like this can do. Anyone remember a guy by the name of Jonathan Papelbon? Let's give him a shot. After all, what's the worst that can happen? He gets lit up and goes down to AAA to sort things out. But at least you know what you've got.

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