Wak eager for Classic reunion

The “real” Mariners team will soon be together for the first time this spring.

A foursome that played for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic — pitchers Felix Hernandez and Carlos Silva, second baseman Jose Lopez and outfielder Endy Chavez — are expected to rejoin the Mariners on Monday at the Peoria Sports Complex. And, depending on how Japan does against Team USA in today’s semi-final at Dodger Stadium, catcher Kenji Johjima and right fielder Ichiro Suzuki could be in camp either Tuesday or Wednesday, which is an off-day.

Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said that when the gang’s all here, it will be like starting over.

Things like bunt plays and relay drills must be covered as though it was the first two weeks of Spring Training, not the final two weeks of camp.

“The last week, especially, is going to be like light-speed,” the first-year manager said.

The Mariners, by the way, had more players (six) reach the Classic semi-finals than any other Major League organization. Not too shabby for a team that lost 101 games last season.

But it also means the Mariners have a lot more work from here on out to get ready for the regular-season opener on April 6 against the Twins.

On another subject, if you read anywhere that the Mariners are strongly considering moving right-hander Brandon Morrow back to the bullpen — never mind.

That is not the plan at all. If he is not ready to be in Seattle’s starting rotation on Opening Day he would be sent to the Minors to build his pitch-count into the 80- to 90-pitch range.

Ken Griffey Jr.’s first game in left field during the day on Saturday was a, well, challenge.

He said that he never saw any of the balls that were to left field until it was too late for him to catch any of them.

“It was worse against left-handed hitters,” he explained this morning. “The ball would disappear into the white shirts and I couldn’t see where they were hit. You could hear the sound, but couldn’t see the ball.”

Three balls were hit near the left field line and all three fell for hits — a triple and two singles.

“I kept telling Tui (third baseman Matt Tuiasosopo) to play deeper,” Griffe joked. “A lot deeper.”

The lineup for today’s game at Mesa against the Cubs:

1. Ronny Cedeno, 2B.

2. Franklin Gutierrez, CF.

3. Wladimir Balentien, LF.

4. Russell Branyan, 1B.

5. Mike Morse, 3B.

6. Mike Wilson, RF.

7. Jamie Burke, C.

8. Chris Woodward, SS.

9. Erik Bedard, P.

— Jim Street

3 Comments

Great post, Mr. Street, as always. So many useful tidbits.

Perhaps it’s not fair to expect Junior to perform in the field, for any reason other than nostalgia; just to hear the roar of the crowd.

Is there a problem with his DHing regularly? Could he live with that? Gee, Edgar built a whole new career in that capacity once upon a time.

I’m just sayin . . .

Thanks for the Mariners rundown. I’m also ready for the Mariners’ “real” roster to be in action. While I have not been following every minute of Spring Training by any means, I like Wakamatsu so far; he is convincing me the Mariners can improve this year. Do you have an idea of what players and fans think of him? I know I was surprised to hear of his hire, but is there any sense of other fans’ and players’ reactions are?
Again, thanks for all the updates!
Paige
http://bestof162.mlblogs.com/

Jim –

Would love to hear your conjecture on what the heck the M’s can do about the Sweeney/Shelton/Branyan situation… Any thoughts?

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