February 2009

Two #24s in camp

There was a special guest in camp today, wearing No. 24.

Yep, 15-year-old Trey Griffey was in the house, all 6-feet-1, 165 pounds of him.

Trey, who was born in Seattle in January 1994, a birth that received banner headlines in both Seattle newspapers, is spending the weekend with his dad, who had a big smile on his face Saturday morning. The entire Griffey clan is visiting, a group that includes wife, Melissa, daughter Taryn and adopted son Tevin.

“I told (Trey) that he’s better looking and he’s already taller than his dad,” joked manager Don Wakamatsu.

Trey isn’t exactly following in his dad’s footsteps. He is a football player, and a darn good one, his father says, adding that he already is working on landing his son a college scholarship. Trey is a high school freshman.

— Jim Street


Beltre says yes, Mariners say no

Third baseman Adrian Beltre decided on Friday to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic,  but his plans came to a screeching halt this morning.

The Mariners decided Beltre would not play in the Classic and he was informed of the organization’s decision during a morning meeting with general manager Jack Zduriencik.

Beltre, who tested his surgically-repaired left thumb and shoulder in Friday’s Cactus League game against the Dodgers, going 2-for-3 in the designated hitter role, said he was “disappointed” in the club’s decision, but understood it.

“I thought the decision was going to be in my hands, but it wasn’t,” he said. “I am not allowed to go. I just wish they would have done this two weeks ago.”

He will remain with the team through Spring Training and work at a slower pace than he has been.

— Jim Street

A boy for Felix

Just as Felix Hernandez told me the other day, his wife, Mariella, beat the due date on the birth of their second child.

Jeremy Abraham Hernandez arrived this morning, checking in at six pounds, 10 ounces.

Baby, mother, father and sister, Mia, reportedly are all doing fine. Felix leaves for Florida on Sunday to join Venezuela’s World Baseball Classic team.

In other up-to-date news, more or less, Mike Morse was scratched from the starting lineup against the Dodgers because of flu-like symptons.

— Jim Street

Balentien signed, sealed, but not delivered

And then were four.

That’s the number of Mariners players who have not agreed to contract terms for the 2009 season, but that is a mere formality. Players that have not agreed to terms before Monday will have their 2008 contracts automatically renewed.

The late signers this year are pitchers Brandon Morrow, David Aardsma and Cesar Jimenez and center fielder Franklin Gutierrez.

Reaching contract terms today were: pitchers Mark Lowe, Jose Lugo, Garrett Olson and Jason Vargas; catcher Jeff Clement, infielder Bryan LaHair and outfielder Wladimir Balentien, whose signature seems to arrived in camp before he did.

As of Friday morning, he still had not reported to camp. Those darn visa problems. 

— Jim Street

A HOF legend sits and watches

If you think it was strange not hearing Mariners Hall of Fame broadcaster Dave Niehaus on the airwaves describing Thursday’s Cactus League opener against the Padres, you aren’t the lone ranger.

Niehaus himself thought it was rather strange.

He was sitting in the broadcast booth at Peoria Stadium, but there wasn’t a mircrophone in front of him.

The Mariners changed flagship stations this season, moving back to KIRO-radio after six years at KOMO-radio, and as part of the new deal, for the first time since 1996, not every Cactus League game will be broadcast this year.

Imagine doing 30-something exhibition games, 162 regular season games and, until the past few years, postseason games. You get the gist. The voice of the Mariners since Day One has been busy.

This spring, 19 Cactus League games will be on radio six others on television.

“Before coming down here, I was looking forward to having the time off,” Niehaus told me this morning. “Then, I got in the booth (on Thursday), stayed and scored the whole game. I turned to Rick (longtime booth partner Rick Rizzs) and said ‘you won’t believe this,but I miss doing this game.'”

He laughed and added that he is back in the saddle for the next three days before taking a few days off early next week.

“I am not begging to do them all again, but I’m going to miss it, let me put it that way,” he said.

I asked if he he would like to be a guest writer for MLB.com during his off days — and he politely turned me down.


— Jim Street

A classic first inning for Felix

Talk about a good start to a busy spring.

It was all of that for Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez this afternoon, when he threw four pitches in the first inning and recorded three outs. Bang, bang, bang, take a seat.

The second inning went a tad differently for the staff ace. He needed 19 pitches to get three outs, and then called it a day.

“All fastballs,” he said of his first inning repertoire. “I was throwing fastballs and they were swinging. That was it.”

The Padres tagged him for four hits and two runs in the second, but overall, he said it was a decent first outing.

“I just wanted to command my fastball on both sides of the plate and that’s why I threw a lot of fastballs. It worked. Not in the second inning, but it worked.”

Felix’s next stop is Orlando, Fla., where he will join Venezuela’s World Baseball Classic team on Sunday for four days of workouts before the team leaves for Toronto and the first round of the Classic. He is expected to be the starting pitcher in the opener against Italy.

— Jim Street

D-Day nears for Beltre

Cactus League games against the Dodgers on Friday and Giants on Saturday will determine where third baseman Adrian Beltre will be playing on Sunday and beyond.

Manager Don Wakamatsu told reporters this morning that Beltre, who hopes to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, would start and play “three or four” innings the next two days to test his surgically-repaired left thumb and shoulder.

If Beltre passes the tests, he would commit to playing in the Classic and report to the Dominican team on Sunday in Florida.

But if there is any discomfort in either his thumb or shoulder, he probably would remain in Arizona with the Mariners.

In other hot-off-the-press news, second baseman Jose Lopez makes his Cactus League debut on Friday and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, nursing a sore hamstring, is tentatively scheduled to play Sunday.

— Jim Street


And were off!!

Admittedly a little bit nervous at the start, left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith began his pursuit of a spot in the Mariners rotation on this sunny, pleasant Wednesday afternoon at Peoria Stadium.

The Aussie tossed two scoreless innings against the Padres in the Mariners’ charity game.

“I was working on throwing strikes, staying back and getting a good feel of my release point,” Rowland-Smith said after his initial outing. “It’s the first time I’ve pitched since last September and the nerves run through you no matter what.”

Rowland-Smith threw 32 pitches, 17 of them for strikes.

“It was good to get a chance to pitch out of a jam,” he said. “To give up a leadoff hit and walk a guy, it’s good just to see what you’re made of. Sometimes in Spring Training, you have a 1-2-3 inning and you drive home thinking you got lucky there. I was fortunate to pitch my way out of that (first inning) jam.”

Rowland-Smith departed with a 2-0 lead, but that vanished in the third when the Padres scored three runs off lefty Garrett Olsen.

— Jim Street

Injuries derail Feierabend, Guzman

The Mariners have lost two players to injury,including one that might end up being season-ending.

Left-handed pitcher Ryan Feierabend, a late-inning specialist candidate this spring, has a partially-torn ligament in his left elbow and might have surgery next week.

Also, outfielder Freddy Guzman, invited to camp as a non-roster player, broke the hamate bone in his right hand and will have surgery next Wednesday. He is expected to be sidelined for at least one month.

— Jim Street

The first lineup of Wak regime

The Mariners lineup for today’s charity game against the Padres has been posted.

It reads:

1. Endy Chavez, LF
2. Ronny Cedeno, SS
3. Jeff Clement, C
4. Mike Morse, RF
5. Russell Branyan, 1B
6. Franklin Gutierrez, CF
7. Bryan LaHair, 1B
8. Matt Tuiasosopo, 3B
9. Reegie Corona, 2B
P  Ryan Rowland-Smith, P

— Jim Street