Activity already at Mariners camp
It has been about a week since I last visited blogo-land. I needed a few days for the knife wounds in my back to heal following some pretty brutal backlash after reporting that Erik Bedard would re-sign with the Mariners. But all is well again, the bleeding has stopped, and it’s back on the job here at BAM, as we call it.
The drive to Peoria from Tucson was uneventful, except for those darn 18-wheel truck drivers who think they are racing in the Daytona 500, trying to pass everything in front of them. A couple of the dudes were pulled over on the side of the road, courtesy of the Arizona Highway Patrol. Way to go guys and keep those red and blue lights flashing!!
I checked in to the Peoria Sports Complex and there already were some fans — aka autograph seekers — at the entrance of the players’ parking lot. They call it the “players parking lot” although all the front office people, and even us media types, get to park there.
The Mariners clubhouse, the happiest place on earth last spring (it seemed), was already full of activity, although pitchers, catchers and reporters are not due to check in until Wednesday.
Cliff Lee was there, getting his locker ready for the next six weeks. He has the locker space formerly occupied by Miguel Batista. Not far away was Felix Hernandez, looking like a million dollars, or more — like 78 million dollars.
Catcher’s row was full, though Rob Johnson and Guillermo Quiroz were the only ones I saw during my 30-minute visit. There will be seven receivers when the gang’s all here.
Dustin Ackley, an outfielder/first baseman /now second baseman, was sitting in front of his locker, sorting through some mail.
Bedard was among the early arrivals, sitting in clubhouse manager Ted Walsh’s office. I chatted with Erik for at least five minutes, maybe more — an all-time record for me and he. I I hope it will continue well into the season. I’ve always thought he was a good chap, just a quiet one. He asked me when I thought his recovery from a second shoulder operation would end and he would be able to pitch in a Marienrs game again and I told him he would start his first game on June 12.
I’m never right on this kind of prediction, but write it down anyway. You might be able to say you saw it here first. A more reputable source might have other return dates, however.
Manager Don Wakamatsu is due in town later this evening for two days of meetings leading up to Thursday’s first workout for pitchers and catchers.
Coaches Rick Adair (pitching), Ty Van Burkleo (bench) and Mike Brumley (third-base) have checked in. Van Burkleo is running the camp again this season and — rumor has it — El Nino is back. That could bring some rain to the Valley of the Sun. Teams here have been fortunate the past few years with the weather.
I didn’t see GM Jack Zduriencik, although a car parked in his spot in the lot so I assumed he was in the building. He probably was upstairs working on yet another transaction. The guy never sleeps.
Tomorrow is more or less a free day, in the sense that not much will be happening at camp. Former Mariners pitching coach Jim Slaton has invited Kirby Arnold of the Everett Herald and me to play some golf at the Verrado Raven Golf Club. It will be good to catch up on what he’s been doing. Slaton, who lives near the 10th fairway on the course — but well out of my range — is still in baseball, working as a Minor League pitching coach for the Dodgers.
Anyway, it is sunny and warm here right now and is supposed to reach the mid-70s by the middle of the week.
Spring has sprung and I’ll try to keep you updated on the happenings around camp, if not daily, at least a few times a week.
— Jim Street