How sweet it is — Opening Day!

first pitch.JPG

Doug Fister delivers first pitch of the Cactus League season — a strike to Aaron Rowand

Ah, Opening Day at the ballpark.

OK, it’s only Opening Day at Spring Training, but why quibble? Some real live baseball again and the weather could not be better. Sunny and warm, which is the way it should be.

Access to the players was limited this morning as a team of representatives from the Players Association — including former Mariners Phil Bradley, Stan Javier and Mike Myers — had their annual meeting, this year led by Michael Weiner, the new Executive Director.

It was always a treat chatting with former union leader Donald Fehr. A couple of springs ago, he mentioned that his kids kidded him about his “real” age. As it turned out, the Wikepedia folks had it wrong by one year. After a short story appeared on the Mariners web site, Fehr’s birthdate was corrected.

Javier looked about the same as he did nine years ago, when he contributed key hits and catches for that 116-win team. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to chat with him, but I’m sure he still thinks about that improbable season a lot.

In other news, left-hander Luke French, acquired in the trade that sent Jarrod Washburn to the Tigers, signed a one-year contract this morning, meaning all 40 players on the 40-man roster are signed.

The final player payroll should come in slightly lower than last year’s $98 million figure.

— A Padres foursome, lead by right-hander Jon Garland, won Tuesday’s golf tournament with a 12-under-60. The Mariners team Jason Vargas, Mark Lowe, Shawn Kelley and Sean White finished second, one shot behind, while the team of Howard Lincoln, Rick Griffin, Rob Nodine and Ron Spellecy, finished third with a 10-under-62 at the Raven Club at Verrado.

The Mariners swept the two long drive contests (Mark Lowe had the longest, a 384-yard rocket) and James Clifford knocked one a foot short of an ace.

For those of us expecting a “media” foursome — not a chance. For the 12th consecutive year, our invitations were lost in the mail, apparently. Maybe next year. Oh yes, there won’t be a next year. Never mind.

Undaunted, three of us — Kirby Arnold, Bob Sherwin and your’s truly — had a splendid round at the Arrowhead Country Club, where the hospitality was out of this world. Kirby won, but he’s good. I was second, but only because Bob has this left-to-right technique that is hard to describe.

— Jim Street

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