Stark among Mariners' spring invitees

Stark among Mariners' spring invitees

SEATTLE -- It has been almost five years since right-hander Denny Stark pitched in a Major League game and nearly 13 years since he was selected by the Mariners in the fourth round in the First-Year Player Draft.

Now 34 years old and recovered from two Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgeries, Stark is among the 17 non-roster players who received invitations to Spring Training, the Mariners announced on Wednesday.

The list of invitee includes eight pitchers, three catchers, four infielders and two outfielders.

Besides Stark, right-handed pitchers Eric Hull, Chris Jakubauskas, Shawn Kelley, Luis Munoz, Tracy Thorpe and Sean White, along with left-hander Chris Sneddon, will report to camp in Peoria, Ariz., on Feb. 13.

Veteran Jamie Burke heads the list of catchers, which also includes Adam Moore, Luis Oliveros and Chris Woodward. Infielders Callis Crabbe, Oswaldo Navarro, Chris Shelton and Chris Woodward, and outfielders Freddy Guzman and Prentice Redman also have been invited to camp.

Stark, signed to a Minor League contract last spring, had a combined 6-3 record and 3.86 ERA in 23 games with Double-A West Tennessee and Triple-A Tacoma.

He made his regular-season debut on May 7 against Mississippi, his first appearance since June 13, 2005, completing the journey back from a second Tommy John surgery.

Stark made his Major League debut in 1999, appearing in five games for Seattle that season and four in '01 before being traded to the Rockies prior to the '02 season, along with left-handed pitcher Brian Fuentes and right-hander Jose Paniagua, for third baseman Jeff Cirillo.

The University of Toledo product had his best season in '02, going 11-4 with a 4.00 ERA in 32 games (20 starts) for the Rockies. He became a free agent at the end of the '04 season, signed with the Indians several months later and returned the Rockies three years later.

Of the 17 invitees, 11 of them have Major League experience, including three -- Burke, Stark and White -- with the Mariners.

Burke, a backup catcher for the Mariners the past two seasons, was not offered a Major League contract, making him a free agent. He re-signed with the organization earlier this month. White, a Rule 5 Draftee from the Braves, made his MLB debut with the Mariners in 2007, going 1-1 with a 5.06 ERA, but he spent the entire '08 season at Tacoma, where he went 6-11 with a 5.47 ERA.

Hot Stove

Moore, regarded as the best all-around catcher in the Minor League system, had a superb season at West Tennessee, batting .319 with 14 home runs and 71 RBIs. He was supposed to play in the Arizona Fall League but broke his left thumb in the final playoff game of last season.

Shelton, a .274 career hitter over parts of four Major League seasons with the Tigers (2004-06) and Rangers (2008), was the Tigers' Opening Day first baseman in 2006 and established American League records by belting seven home runs in the first nine games of the season, and eight in the first two weeks of the season.

He has been trying to find that stroke ever since.

Jim Street is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.