Mar 19, 2012; Peoria, AZ, USA; Seattle Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki (51) hits a two-run homerun during the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Peoria Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

Mariners Japan Road Trip 2012: Seattle Falls 5-1 To Hanshin Tigers, 9-3 to Yomiuri Giants

Keeping up with the 2012 Seattle Mariners as they make their way through Spring Training.

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Exhibition Game: Seattle Mariners Fall To Yomiuri Giants, 9-3

Well, this is a trip the Seattle Mariners would soon like to forget, and it isn't even over yet. While their fellow MLB team, the Oakland Athletics, split two games against Japanese competition, the Mariners followed up their 5-1 loss to the Hanshin Tigers with a 9-3 loss to the Yomiuri Giants on Monday morning.

Dustin Ackley did go 2-for-3 with a home run and a triple but he was the lone positive.

Starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma - who pitched in Japan the past 11 years - was rocked for six runs and 10 hits over four innings and they didn't get much from anyone else either.

John Bowker, an American playing for the Giants, got it started with a home run off Iwakuma in just the second at-bat of the game and it was a done deal after that. Fifteen hits and nine runs later the Mariners saw themselves with another preseason L before the start of the regular season against the A's begins on Wednesday night in the Tokyo Dome.

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Mariners Score Update: Seattle Falls 5-1 To Hanshin Tigers, Ichiro The Main Attraction

The Seattle Mariners and Ichiro Suzuki were a hit in Japan for their exhibition matchup in a 5-1 defeat. Ichiro only made one hit in his four at-bats, but received highly positive reaction every time he stepped up to the plate.

Hanshin took the lead in the second on an infield single, and a two run home run off of Hector Noesi. A double and a single scored two more runs to take a 5-0 lead going into the final inning, where Casper Wells puts Seattle on the board with a homer. Seattle's only other real chance of scoring came in the eighth inning, but ground out and struck out with a runner in scoring position.

Seattle players seemed to appreciate the experience. Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times has more here.

"It was awesome,'' said Michael Saunders, who had a single in the third inning as the Mariners loaded the bases with one out before coming up empty. "It felt like -- I've never seen it before except on TV -- but it was almost like a European soccer game. They're extremely enthusiastic, obviously they have a lot of fun and they take a lot of pride.

"I had a lot of fun. It's good baseball, obviously and they take a lot of pride and have a lot of passion for the game.''

Shannon Drayer of 710AM ESPN also got these quotes.

While the Mariners were throwing a regulation MLB ball the Tigers were throwing a Japanese baseball. I was talking to Shawn Kelley before the game when another player handed him one of the balls.

"This ball feels like a rubber ball. That's their game ball? It's like rubber. I have heard this ball isn't going anywhere," he said.

Justin Smoak compared the ball the Tigers used to a high school ball. High seams and soft. Add that to facing pitchers with different repertoires and somewhat strange movements and it wasn't an easy day at the plate.

"I don't know if it was there ball that they used or what but it moved a lot," he said when asked what he saw from the pitchers today. "The first guy had a really good 2 seamer, and the last guy I faced had 8000 twitches and stops before he threw it to the plate. It was a little different but it was good."

To discuss the result with Mariners fans, hit up Lookout Landing.

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Mariners Spring Training Odds And Ends: Felix Hernandez Gets Shelled, M's Arrive In Japan

The Seattle Mariners have arrived in Japan in preparation for their two-game series against the Oakland Athletics that will officially kick off the 2012 baseball season. Jim Armstrong of the Associated Press reported on the M's arriving in Narita on Friday morning. There were a healthy number of fans waiting to greet both the Mariners and the A's at the airport. The Mariners, of course, have deep ties to Japan, not least of which being that the team owner hails from and resides in Japan. Seattle also has three Japanese players on their roster: Ichiro Suzuki, Munenori Kawasaki and Hisashi Iwakuma.

One of the non-Japanese players who may be eager to put the United States behind him for a little while is Seattle ace and Opening Day starter Felix Hernandez, who made his last Spring Training start on Wednesday and got absolutely shellacked. As the Associated Press reported, Hernandez had been throwing pretty much lights-out in the Cactus League until that final start against the Chicago White Sox, in which the picther was roughed up for eight runs in a 13-8 loss. But Hernandez is looking forward to the real season starting, as are the rest of us.

"It's time to be serious," Hernandez said.

Baseball is serious business and certainly all Seattle fans are looking forward to the first official pitch being thrown. As always, it's going to be quite a season.

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Seattle Mariners' Japan Trip Game Schedule

The Mariners open their season next week but this weekend and Monday will play exhibition games against the Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants. Then, on Wednesday, Seattle then opens the regular season with two games in Tokyo against the Oakland Athletics. If you want to catch those games live, you best prepare a pot of coffee.

Here's the schedule:

Exhibition Game One: On Sunday, March 25th at 8:06 pm PDT | 12:06 pm JST In Tokyo, the Mariners face off against the Hanshin Tigers.

Exhibition Game Two: Monday, March 26th at 3:04 am PDT | 7:04 pm JST In Tokyo. The M's to visit the Yomiuri Giants.

Regular Season Game One: The Mariners open their season against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday, March 28th at 3:10 am PST | In Tokyo (7:10 pm JST)
TV: ROOT SPORTS, MLBN (delay) | MLB.TV

Regular Season Game Two: The M's come back the next day and on Thursday, March 29th, face the A's at 2:10 am PST | In Tokyo (6:10 pm JST)
TV: ROOT SPORTS, MLBN (delay) | MLB.TV

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Seattle Mariners Set 30-Man Roster For Japan Trip

The Seattle Mariners are getting close to their trip across the world to Japan to take on their last few exhibition games against the Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants and their first regular-season opener against the Oakland Athletics.

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times noted that they'll be taking off around noon from Peoria, AZ, and had to cut the roster down to 30 to make the trek. Here's how it breaks down by position:

Pitchers (14): Blake Beavan, Steve Delabar, Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Shawn Kelley, Brandon League, Hector Noesi, Erasmo Ramirez, Chance Ruffin, Tom Wilhelmsen, Charlie Furbush, Lucas Luetge, George Sherrill, Jason Vargas.

Catchers (four): Miguel Olivo, Jesus Montero, John Jaso, Guillermo Quiroz.

Infielders (seven): Dustin Ackley, Chone Figgins, Munenori Kawasaki, Alex Liddi, Brendan Ryan, Kyle Seager, Justin Smoak.

Outfielders (five): Mike Carp, Carlos Peguero, Michael Saunders, Ichiro Suzuki, Casper Wells.

All 30 players will be eligible for the exhibition games, but will have to cut it to 28 for the regular season games. Only 25 of the 28 will be eligible to play in those games. All of the 28 players must also be placed the 40-man roster as well. Pitcher Kevin Millwood won't make the trip to continue with his training back in Arizona.

For more news and notes on the Seattle Mariners, make sure you check out Lookout Landing to get in on the action.

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Seattle Mariners Announce Pitching Rotation: Felix Hernandez Leads Off

The Seattle Mariners have a new pitching rotation in place. Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times reports.

The team had already announced that Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas will be the first two starters and will start the games against the A's in Japan March 28-29.

Today, manager Eric Wedge said the other three starters to begin the season will be Hector Noesi, Blake Beavan and Kevin Millwood.

Here's a little bit on each pitcher.

Felix Hernandez is the lead pitcher once again. His 2011 season fell off from his excellent 2010 campaign, as his ERA rose to 3.47 from 2.27 and the WHIP went from 1.057 to 1.220, while strikeouts slightly declined from 232 to 222. Still enough for Hernandez to keep his lead spot though.

Jason Vargas comes next, and also saw his ERA rise from 3.78 to 4.25. His WHIP and hit/walk count also increased slightly, although his strikeout count did go up from 116 to 131.

Hector Noesi has only one season in the majors; in his two starting appearances with the Yankees he managed a 4.47 ERA. In his remaining relief appearances he struck out 45 in 56 innings pitched.

Blake Beavan has also only pitched one season in the majors, going 5-6 with a 4.27 ERA.

Kevin Millwood has pitched in the majors since 1997, and is coming off a year in Colorado where he only pitched nine games with a 3.98 ERA.

To discuss the pitching rotation with Mariners fans, head on over to Lookout Landing.

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Mariners Spring Training 2012 Stats: Alex Liddi And Jesus Montero Producing At The Plate

The Seattle Mariners are currently 18 games into their Spring Training season with two final games on Tuesday and Wednesday before departing for two exhibition games in Japan and finally opening day against the Oakland Athletics on on March 28th.

Currently with an 11-7 record in the Cactus League, the Mariners are three games back from first place. Here are some notable statistical totals from the Mariners:

  • In 11 games, outfielder Carlos Peguero leads the team with three home runs, but also has struck out a team-high 13 times.
  • In 13 games, third baseman Alex Liddi leads the team with nine runs scored with a line of .393/.485/.689. Liddi is making a strong case for himself to be added as a bench player to the 25-man roster. He'll have to beat out Kyle Seager who currently has more big league experience.
  • Despite missing a few games due to illness, Jesus Montero leads the team with 10 RBIs. Montero, the projected starter at catcher for the Mariners is expected to produce offensively and be a mainstay in the middle of the order this upcoming season.
  • In three appearances, Mariners starter Jason Vargas has surrendered 12 runs through 8.1 innings. Though the number is alarming, spring training is often used as a tool to improve certain pitches or experiment on the mound. Winning games and statistics are not the priority for established pitchers like Vargas.
  • Felix Hernandez has pitched like a King this spring. In three starts, King Felix has struck out a team-high13 batters and has only allowed five hits in 13 innings pitched.
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Spring Training 2012: Hong-Chih Kuo Released By Mariners

2012 Spring Training did not get off to a great start for new Seattle Mariners acquisition Hong-Chih Kuo, but things only got worse for the reliever as Cactus League play progressed in March.

Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reports that Kuo was released by Seattle on Monday, which is certainly not the ending that either he or the Mariners had hoped for. The anticipation was that Kuo would be able to bounce back following a rough 2011 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he was roughed up time and again in his Spring Training outings and the M's were finally forced to cut him loose.

This may not be the end of the road for Kuo, but his prospects at this point will be slim. A team may take a gamble on a minor league contract with the lefty, but his March has done nothing but hurt his stock. He made only six appearances with the Mariners in Arizona, pitching only 6.2 innings, but allowed 13 earned runs on 14 hits and four walks.

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Mariners Spring Training 2012: Seattle Makes Roster Cuts, Trayvon Robinson Sent Down

The Mariners are in the thick of Spring Training and have put together a formidable 11-6 record in the Cactus League. Although it's far too early to start making declarations about whether this team can put together a winning season, let alone be a threat in 2012, it's never too early to talk about which players have already been removed from the dicussion of starting the season on the 25-man roster.

Jeff Sullivan at Lookout Landing reports that the Mariners cut seven players on Saturday.

Yes, seven players who as of a few hours ago still possibly harbored the dream of breaking camp with the Seattle Mariners will no longer have that opportunity. Matt Fox, Aaron Heilman, Sean Henn, Josh Kinney, Jeff Marquez, Oliver Perez and Trayvon Robinson are all now property of the minor league peeps in Peoria, or wherever. In case you don't notice, all but Robinson in that list are pitchers.

If nothing else (and there's been plenty else; come on now), the pitching staff is coming together and getting near a final bullpen and starting rotation. But the sending down of Trayvon Robinson likely rankles the outfielder, who was none too happy about being traded away from the Dodgers in the first place.

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times posted a story last week about Robinson's being hurt by the trade and the way it was conducted. Here's a snippet:

Still, the initial news of the trade "really hurt me," he said. The Crenshaw High alum was hitting .293 with 26 home runs for the Dodgers' triple-A team, one step from taking the field for his hometown team.

"Everything they told me to do, I did it," he said. "I didn't disrespect the uniform.

"I always tried to wear the Dodger jersey the way Jackie Robinson did, with a lot of pride and courage."

Hopefully Robinson can soon develop into a major league player and carve out a niche for himself with the M's. Seattle fans would enjoy nothing more than for L.A.'s loss to be their gain.

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The Rogue's Gallery: A Look At The AL Central And AL East

Know your enemy, Mariners fans. We complete our preview of the American League with a look at the Central and East divisions.

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Spring Training 2012: Mariners Split Squad Makes 2 Impressive Showings On Saturday

The Seattle Mariners continued their strong Spring Training showing on Saturday, playing an afternoon and a night split squad game and picking up a win and a tie. Their Cactus League record now stands at 7-2.

The Mariners squads recorded 11 hits in each game. In the afternoon, the Mariners took on the Los Angeles Dodgers. Seattle took an early 2-0 lead but fell behind 5-2 after a four-run Dodgers sixth. The M's tied it up with three runs in the top of the eighth inning and the game ended in a 5-5 tie after nine. Chone Figgins once again batted in the leadoff spot in this one and went 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI. He is now hitting just .188 in Spring Training. Kyle Seager had a two-hit game that in included a home run and two RBI. Ichiro Suzuki was 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI and is now batting .333 in the third slot in the lineup.

In the nightcap, the Mariners took on the Arizona Diamondbacks and this time scored enough runs on their 11 hits to easily pull off the 7-1 win. Seattle pitching was superb as the Mariners held the Diamondbacks to just five hits and one run. Starter Erasmo Ramirez pitched three innings, giving up no runs, no walks and two hits while striking out one. The Mariners plated two runs in each of the first two innings and that would end up proving more than enough to pick up the win. Munenori Kawasaki and Mike Carp each had three-hit games. Kawasaki was 3-for-5 in the leadoff spot with 3 RBI. Jesus Montero had a double and Darren Ford legged out a triple.

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Adam Moore Injury Update: Broken Wrist May Be Downgraded To Bone Chip

Seattle Mariners catcher Adam Moore suffered a wrist injury while blocking a ball on Tuesday during a Spring Training game against the Cincinnati Reds. It was believed that he suffered a metacarpal fracture and would likely miss the first few months of the regular season. Now it appears as though that injury may not be quite as bad as initially reported.

Larry LaRue of the Tacoma News Tribune reported on Friday that the injury may be a bone chip, rather than a break.

What appeared to be a broken metacarpal bone in his right wrist may be a bone chip, and Moore was placed in a brace, not a cast. He will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

"I'm praying for the best, two weeks max. Realistically, it'll be two-to-four weeks. I consider this a bump in the road," Moore said.

Moore is already thinking about catching bullpen sessions with his right hand kept behind his back. Sounds like the M's may have caught a lucky ... uh ... break.

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Mariners Spring Training 2012: Weekend Cactus League Games

The Seattle Mariners are finally getting the Cactus League respect they deserve. The Mariners take on the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday and Saturday and if you take a quick gander at the Cactus League schedule, you'll notice the asterisk next to the Saturday game. That is right, the Mariners and the Diamondbacks are the premier game of the evening. Take that rest of Cactus League. That is how you get treated when you are 6-1 with a 1.5 game lead over the rest of the league.

The weekend's schedule:

Friday: Arizona Diamondbacks @ Seattle Mariners

Saturday: Seattle Mariners @ Arizona Diamondbacks

Sunday: Seattle Mariners @ San Francisco Giants

As you can see, MLB still has no respect for Mariners travel schedule as they are heading all over a 25 mile radius in Phoenix, Arizona. The Mariners put a thrashing on the Cubs yesterday winning 10-3. Dustin Ackley clubbed a three run homer in support of old man Kevin Millwood. Most importantly, Dustin Ackley clubbed a three run home off of crazed extreme strike thrower/walk the bases loaded fireballer Cubbie Carlos Marmol. Carlos Marmol does get a bit wild at times, but little of that wildness ends up on the other side of the outfield fence as he has allowed eight home runs in three seasons. And people say spring doesn't matter! Dustin Ackley - hit as many home runs off of Carlos Marmol as you like!

Jason Vargas gets the start for the Mariners today against an Arizona team that doesn't want to keep their fans waiting gleefully and have gotten thrashed on three separate occasions this spring. From the looks of the lineup card, Arizona looks very confident in their pitcher so it will be interesting to see how well Vargas adapts.

For more positive reinforcement on the Seattle Mariners, head to Lookout Landing.

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The Arch Enemies: An AL West Preview

Every team, like every superhero, should have a spectacular assortment of villains. We take a look at the arch-enemies of the Seattle Mariners in our AL West preview.

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Adam Moore Breaks Wrist; Out For Forseeable Future

The good news? The Seattle Mariners are atop the Cactus League Standings. The bad news? That really means nothing. The even more bad news? Catcher Adam Moore fell victim to the injury bug with a broken bone in his wrist, Geoff Baker reports.

Mariners Blog | Adam Moore breaks bone in wrist; future with Mariners now as clouded as ever | Seattle Times Newspaper

The Mariners announced that Moore had fractured the third metacarpal in his right wrist after blocking a ball in Tuesday's game against the Reds. Moore actually finished that game, going 2-for-2 with a two-run double to up his spring average to .667 (4-for-6, four runs scored, a double, a homer and three RBI). But the pain in the wrist persisted post-game and an examination of the wrist yesterday revealed the break. Moore will visit a hand specialist today and have the wrist placed in a cast. The Mariners have yet to announce a timeline for Moore's recovery, but, as with Franklin Gutierrez, he's pretty much going to miss most spring training games and will need time to get back into playing shape and all that. In other words, the first couple of months of his season -- wherever that winds up being -- are now shot.

This is a big setback for Adam Moore. He had been putting up good numbers in an attempt to help forget his 2011 injury lost season, and the path to catcher was already more crowded with the additions of John Jaso and Jesus Montero (to a certain degree). The Mariners have spent quite a bit of time trying to clear a path for Adam Moore in the big leagues, and you have to think that there is something to be believed about his potential as a catcher, or at least a back-up catcher. But now, Moore is losing a lot of precious Spring Training at bats to differentiate himself from the other guys.

For the Mariners going forward, all hope isn't lost at the position. Miguel Olivo has an option for next year. If he has a big year offensively, he can be worth keeping around for not too much of a cost. Scouts have had good things to say about Jaso, and who knows - maybe this means we'll see Montero doing a bit more catching then we were expecting.

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They Were Mariners: Danny Tartabull

There have been many Mariners in history, both remembered and forgotten. Let this one not soon be forgotten.

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Carlos Guillen Announces Retirement

Word is trickling in this morning that Carlos Guillen is deciding to call it quits instead of playing another baseball season - and by playing I mean suffering through another Seattle Mariners season.

Mariners Blog | Carlos Guillen announces retirement; leaves door wide open for Kyle Seager to make team | Seattle Times Newspaper

"It was the best for this team,'' Guillen said. "We've got great talent here. A lot of young guys, a lot of talent.''

Guillen made the decision over the past couple of days, saying that "your body tells you'' when it can't go forward. He said his family still encouraged him to keep going but he realized it was time to step away.

This isn't so much of a blow as it will really put more pressure on Kyle Seager to prove he belongs consistently in the line-up. The team has awarded Chone Figgins some time to prove to other teams he still remembers how to play some aspects of baseball, but with the injury to Franklin Gutierrez and the possibility of Figgins out in center-field, Guillen was supposed to be the stop-gap between the harsh realities of 95 mph fastballs and Seager struggling at the plate. I was looking forward to seeing a re-energized Guillen so I could get all re-angry about trading his best years to the Detroit Tigers, but at least Guillen had the decency to step down from the Mariners before his .150 average made the team quietly force him out.

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Mariners Spring Training 2012: Dustin Ackley Leads Seattle In 13-7 Massacre Of Padres

Spring Training, as everyone knows, is largely meaningless. 162 games is a long, long season, played without the benefit of split-squad games, a healthy team, or a slew of prospects and invitees. Ridiculous numbers in March rarely translate to similar results in June, August, or October. And yet...it's hard not to read that the Seattle Mariners beat the San Diego Padres 13-7 on Monday and not feel a little glee.


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As the Associated Press reports, Dustin Ackley had three hits, including a double and a triple in Monday's rout of the Pads. He also scored two runs. Although the lineup may be in flux this season, it doesn't appear to bother Ackley.

"I've hit in all different positions," Ackley said. "I feel comfortable and I'm not going to change my approach wherever I'm at. We've got a lot of great bats in the lineup. Wherever you look, we've got guys who can swing it. Getting [Jesus] Montero is going to help. He's a special hitter."

Ackley also said that he thinks the Seattle lineup is going to surprise some people. If they manage to score runs in bunches throughout the year, no one is likely to be more surprised than long-time M's fans.

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Danny Hultzen's First Big Purchase? A $100,000 Donation.

People were a little stunned when the Seattle Mariners drafted LHP Danny Hultzen out of Virginia with the number two overall pick last year. He was not projected to go that early, the Mariners were seemingly in need of a hitter and not a pitcher, and then rumors that he’d be too expensive to sign were the icing on the cake.

Many fans commented that a supposed financial incentive for Hultzen to go to medical school would prove to be too costly and that sort of insinuated that greed would come before anything else. To overcome doubts about his ability to live up to his lofty draft status will have to be answered on the mound, but whether or not Hultzen has an ounce of greed? That should be solidly answered now.

Hultzen signed for a whopping $8.5 million bonus but before he went out and bought Escalades, mansions, or jewelry, he gave back in the form of a $100,000 donation to his school’s baseball program.

“They made me who I am today,” Hultzen said. “I wouldn’t be anywhere without the University of Virginia, so I just wanted give them a token of my admiration. All of the money I’ve run into, they deserve a lot of it.”

It’s the sort of maturity that helps explain why Seattle felt very comfortable in drafting him at number two last season. No word yet on how much Hultzen will donate towards the Mariners signing a big, free agent bat.

For more on Hultzen’s progress and the Mariners, frequent Lookout Landing.

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Mariners Spring Training 2012: Jason Vargas Leads Seattle To 5-4 Win Over Padres

The Seattle Mariners picked up another Spring Training victory on Sunday, defeating the San Diego Padres by a final score of 5-4. The game was the spring debut for left-hander Jason Vargas and when all was said and done, it would be hard to imagine that either he or the M's could have wanted it to go any better.


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As the Associated Press reports, Vargas threw just four innings and 50 pitches, but was perfect in those four innings, allowing no Padres to reach base.

"I was around the zone. I was throwing the ball pretty much in the areas I was trying to throw it in so, it's getting work but at the same time, it's getting outs," Vargas said.

The Mariners actually led 4-0 going into the top of the ninth inning, but reliever Jarret Grube gave up three runs. The tying run for the Padres came home when shortstop Nick Franklin lost a pop fly in the sun and dropped the ball. Crises was averted in the bottom of the ninth, as Mike Wilson singled and Johermyn Chavez drove him in with a double to win the game.

For all news and information regarding the Seattle Mariners, please visit the incomparable Lookout Landing.

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Franklin Gutierrez Injury: 6-Weeks From 'Playing Shape' According to Report

When the news came down that Franklin Gutierrez was going to miss a significant amount of time with his torn pectoral muscle, it was devastating to the Seattle Mariners clubhouse. But Guti had some positive things to say on Sunday, as reported by the Seattle Times' Geoff Baker on Twitter:

Although that isn't the greatest news, it could have certainly been a lot worse, as it's looking like he could return for the majority of the summer and hopefully into the fall.

Gutierrez played only 92 games in an injury-plagued season in 2011, batting a meager .224 with only one homer and 19 RBI. Hopefully this injury doesn't do the same thing to his numbers this season.

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Mariners Spring Training 2012: With Franklin Gutierrez Out, Seattle Figures To Staff Center Field By Committee

Franklin Gutierrez injured his pectoral muscle early on in Spring Training, leaving the Seattle Mariners with a gap to be filled in center field for the time being. While Chone Figgins filled in at the position at drills the day after Gutierrez went down with the injury, the M's will have to figure out how they will fill the void until their starter returns. Gutierrez will be out at least a month, which means he will miss the Seattle season opener against the Oakland Athletics in Japan on March 28.


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Larry Larue at The Olympian reports that the most likely -- and realistic -- option for the team is to finish out the spring and begin the season with a "loose" rotation of Figgins, Michael Saunders and Casper Wells. Larue points out that Gutierrez' defensive skills will be impossible to replace, but the M's will have to do the best they can for the time being.

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Mariners Spring Training 2012: Seattle Gets Roughed Up In 9-2 Loss To Oakland

The Seattle Mariners won their first Spring Training game on Friday by mashing five homers and outpacing the Oakland Athletics. They were on the wrong end of an offensive explosion on Saturday, as they managed just five hits and lost by a final score of 9-2.


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The first of the M's runs came in the bottom of the first inning, as Dustin Ackley walked and stole second, then came in to score when Justin Smoak hit a two-out RBI single. The lead was short-lived, as the A's managed three runs in the top of the third on a Seth Smith RBI single and a Jonny Gomes two-run homer.

Carlos Peguero added the only other Seattle run on a solo home run in the bottom of the third. Casper Wells, Adam Moore and Vinnie Catricala managed the only other hits for the Mariners.

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Mariners Spring Training 2012: Franklin Gutierrez Returns Optimistic About Quick Recovery

The Seattle Mariners got a scare earlier in the week when Franklin Gutierrez left Spring Training with a pectoral injury. Not only did the club not know the severity of the injury, but there were no legitimate in-house options capable of patrolling center field the way Gutierrez can. Fortunately for the M's, the injured outfielder returned to camp optimistic about his recovery and getting back on the field.

This has to be very encouraging news for manager Eric Wedge and will give him much more flexibility with the lineup once he returns to the field. Gutierrez will undoubtably need some time to rest, recover and get back into shape. No timetable has been set for the regular season and it will be at least a month before Gutierrez can swing a bat, but a return in early-May seems reasonable assuming there are no further setbacks.

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Mariners Hit 5 Home Runs And Win. That's All You Need To Know.

The Mariners got home runs from Jesus Montero, Michael Saunders, Carlos Peguero, Luis Rodriguez and Johermyn Chavez today in Cactus League action and held on to beat the Oakland Athletics 8-5, in Phoenix, Arizona. Montero, Saunders and Peguero each hit two-run homers and Luis Rodriguez and Johermyn Chavez added solo shots. The Mariners gave up one run in the first inning, then jumped ahead to a 7-1 lead by the fifth.

In that inning, Seattle had a slight scare, when Jesus Montero left the game after getting hit by two foul balls in a row, behind the plate.

"He's OK," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "He got hit in the jaw a couple of times. I don't know that I've ever seen that happen two times in a row like that. The first one got him pretty good but obviously the second one right on top of that, so we got him out of there."

Starter Blake Beavan went 2.1 innings, giving up four hits and one earned run while striking out one and walking one. Beavan got the win and Oakland's Graham Godfrey took the loss, giving up two earned runs - a Michael Saunders homer- while striking out four and walking one.

Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for the Mariners' offense. Boxscore here for your perusing pleasure.

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Some More Reasons Why This Gutierrez Injury is Terrible

The more I think about Franklin Gutierrez's torn pectoral the more depressed I get. Aside from the fact that it sounds pretty painful to tear that muscle, at least he isn't having surgery. But as Geoff Baker pointed out on his blog, like the voice of reason he always is, Guti is going to be gone for much longer than a month.

Mariners Blog | Why Franklin Gutierrez won't be back with Mariners until May | Seattle Times Newspaper

Part of the confusion centers around an understanding over just what it means when the Mariners say Gutierrez could resume normal baseball activities in four weeks. For one, it doesn't mean he'll be able to step out on a field and take on the Oakland Athletics in four weeks. Maybe if Gutierrez was playing for a company softball team. But not in the majors. One of the more underappreciated aspects of Major League Baseball that I see with fans surrounds the kind of conditioning it takes to play the sport at its highest level. This isn't meant as a shot at fans, who aren't given much insight into the behind-the-scenes training these athletes must go through every day. And that's a big part of the confusion over why I'm saying Gutierrez isn't coming back until at least early May.

There was much to be made about reports of Guti entering spring training with 15 pounds of muscle packed on. It was quite clear with his stomach ailments last year that the glove and the legs were still there, but the bat was virtually non-existent. Guti's slugging percentage last year was the second lowest of the team (minimum 300 ABs) at .273. Only the much maligned Chone Figgins slugged worse. With as much emphasis on the team that has been placed on the production of Justin Smoak, Jesus Montero, and Dustin Ackley, I still feel like Guti regaining some of that gorgeous 2009 batting line (.283/.339.425 18 HRs) is just as instrumental to the team's drive towards .500. I believe that Guti has the talent within him and that the 2009 season wasn't a statistical fluke, but this injury is a major setback to proving that.

Now, thanks to Jack Z's wheelings and dealings last year, the Mariners do have a solid glut of options to throw into the mix for the temporary. Unfortunately, outside of Michael Saunders, none of the options have had a solid chance to prove themselves at the top level. In the case of Saunders, he has had multiple chances to prove that he doesn't have to bat to make it in the major leagues.There is also talk of putting Figgins in center, and that opens the door for Kyle Seager to sink or swim at the hot corner. If he succeeds? Great. If he flounders? Not so good for the self-esteem of a young guy. I guess the silver lining is that at least this year, unlike a couple years ago, the team actually has options, regardless of how unproven they are.

And really, to bring it all back to why the Guti injury is even more terrible, the always astute Larry Stone points out that possibly one of the Mariners better choices is no longer an option.

The Hot Stone League | Mariners' CF opening another sad reminder of Greg Halman loss | Seattle Times Newspaper

This is a guy, don't forget, who was rated the Mariners' No. 1 prospect in 2009 by Baseball America, when they noted, "Halman is a physical specimen with the potential for five average or better tools...Though his speed is just a tick above-average, Halman covers swaths of center field with long, graceful strides."

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Franklin Gutierrez Injury: Torn Pectoral Muscle Leaves Gutierrez Out At Least 4 Weeks

The Seattle Mariners were given a bit of bad news on Thursday as it was reported that center fielder Franklin Gutierrez has indeed a slight tear in his pectoral muscle, that will leave him riding the pine for at least the next month or so.

It isn't completely panic mode yet, though the mood inside the clubhouse took a considerable turn for the worse once the news came down that Gutierrez was going to be out for some time. Not only that, Seattle now has to figure out just what the heck they are going to do in center field, though they have some options already on their squad.

There would be lots of ways they could go, from moving Ichiro to center, to playing Chone Figgins in CF, to switching Dustin Ackley to that position (which he played in college), to hoping Trayvon Robinson has moved past his struggles of last season. None are perfect solutions, and some I don't think they would consider for very long (like an Ichiro move). But I'm sure everything would be on the table in a worst-case scenario, including a trade.

There is a long list of possible free agent center fielders but at the moment it would be the best case scenario to try and fill the gap with players they already have and hope Gutierrez can return earlier than later from the injury.

For more on the Mariners, check out Lookout Landing.

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Mariners Spring Training 2012: Chone Figgins Fills In For Franklin Gutierrez

Seattle Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez received an MRI on Tuesday due to a pectoral injury that he suffered at Spring Training. The Seattle Mariners have not released any information as of yet regarding the severity of the injury, but he did not participate in Wednesday's intrasquad game at the Mariners' training facility.

Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times reports that third baseman Chone Figgins filled in for Gutierrez in center field during today's Mariners vs. Mariners activity. Figgins put up another walk and a line drive single in the intrasquad game and is already getting plenty of looks at pitches in the leadoff role.

By all reports, Figgins is feeling and looking good so far at shortstop, third base and center field. It's great that he's already getting plenty of chances to display his versatility. Hopefully the confidence that manager Eric Wedge and the rest of the front office has in Figgins will lead to a career year.

But of course, it is far too early to start seriously thinking about these things. We will have to wait and see how things continue to go. But despite the injury to Gutierrez, there are still some positives to be found with the Mariners.

For all news and information regarding the Seattle Mariners, please visit the incomparable Lookout Landing.

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Gutierrez Tweaked Something, Leaves Camp This Morning

One day, just one day, there will be some good news coming out of the Mariners camp. Until then, we are stuck with reports from Geoff Bakers blog that Gutierrez apparently hurt his shoulder and was replaced in the intrasquad came today.

Mariners Blog | Mariners mum on why Franklin Gutierrez left camp this morning | Seattle Times Newspaper

"Gutierrez felt something in his shoulder -- or, at least in that immediate vicinity (could be upper back, or rib cage, too, who knows?) -- while throwing during drills today. He left to get it checked out. Darren Ford will replace him in CF for today's intra-squad game."

Baker later posted a slightly more specific tweet. Capture_medium

Update: Looks like Guti felt something in his right Pec according to Shannon Drayer's tweet. The team is now waiting on the MRI results.

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Mariners Spring Training 2012 Roundup: Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, Tickets On Sale March 10

The Seattle Mariners are a couple of weeks into Sprint Training, but their top two pitchers have not seen a lot of action as of yet. Manager Eric Wedge appears to be playing it safe with Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas, according to Larry Larue of the Tacoma News Tribune.

By the end of the day today, Vargas will have appeared in two intra-squad games and thrown a total of five innings.

Going into the opening of the Cactus League season Friday, ace Hernandez will have thrown one inning.

"We've backed it off from the 28th and 29th, and mapped it all out, and they'll both be right where they need to be," manager Eric Wedge said. "Their programs are different, but they're both thought out."

When will Hernandez pitch again? Wedge didn't say, but if he opened the Cactus League season on Friday, he'd do so against Oakland - the team he'll face opening day in Tokyo.

With some other pitching staffs already experiencing some injury and flare-up issues with their pitching staffs in the early going of Spring Training, perhaps the discretion is wise.

The official Mariners website announced that single game tickets for the 2012 regular season will go on sale beginning on March 10.

Seattle Mariners 2012 single game tickets go on sale to the public at 10am, Saturday, March 10. Tickets will be available without a service charge at the Safeco Field Box Office and at Seattle Mariners Team Stores. Tickets will also be available online at www.mariners.com.

70% of the tickets for this season will be priced at or below the prices in 2011, so this looks like it will be a great year to make it out the ballpark, if for no other reason than economically.

For all news and information regarding the Seattle Mariners, please visit the incomparable Lookout Landing.

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Mariners Spring Training 2012: All Eyes On Jesus Montero

The largest move that the Seattle Mariners made this offseason -- one that was fairly unexpected -- was trading away young pitcher Michael Pineda to the New York Yankees in exchange for catcher (and perhaps designated hitter) Jesus Montero. He was possibly the top prospect in the Yankees system; certainly their top young position player. The line on Montero was that he was a top-flight hitter but needed plenty of work behind the plate. Although Montero is now away from the intense media scrutiny in New York, that scrutiny will not disappear entirely, as he could potentially be pegged as one of the faces of the future of the team, along with Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak, along with burgeoning young pitchers.

Geoff Baker at The Seattle Times penned an insightful column on Saturday that took an in-depth look at Montero and the pressures that he will be facing while with the M's. Montero is lucky enough to have two veteran catchers working with him as mentors throughout 2012 Spring Training. Both Guillermo Quiroz and Miguel Olivo have been there before. They're doing their best to help ensure that Montero becomes a well-rounded player.

"You have to concentrate a lot," said Quiroz, 30, who played a handful of games with Seattle in 2006, 2009 and 2010. "You have to be on top of everything. My best advice would be to be aware of everything on the field, because all eyes are on him.

"He has the ability to play," Quiroz added. "You can't deny that. The kid can hit. Catching-wise, I've seen him working out there and it's good. Once he gets the confidence, that experience, he'll be ready to play."

The M's and their fans certainly have high hopes for the young player. His development will be closely watched over the spring and likely throughout the year. He has an opportunity to become a key component of the Mariners rebuilding efforts.

For all news and information regarding the Seattle Mariners, please visit the incomparable Lookout Landing.

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Mariners Spring Training 2012: Chone Figgins At Leadoff, Carlos Guillen Tries To Stay Healthy

Spring Training for the Seattle Mariners rolls right along, as players adjust to new roles and prepare for a challenging rebuilding season.

Third baseman Chone Figgins is already getting in the mindset of being the new everyday leadoff hitter for the M's. Larry LaRue of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that Figgins claims he feels like a different hitter when he's batting leadoff. His 10-pitch at-bat to lead off Friday's intrasquad game already has his team and manager Eric Wedge feeling positively about his new role.

"That's more the player I remember seeing across the field when I was in Cleveland," Wedge said. "Tough at-bat, he gets on base and scored a run. That's a good start."

Larry Stone at the Seattle Times spoke to Carlos Guillen about his expectations for the season. For Guillen, it all comes down to staying healthy in 2012. A healthy Guillen can still be a welcome player on the Mariners roster and provide another quality bat, but there's no telling whether his body will be able to hold up throughout the season.

"I know what he's capable of doing," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of Guillen. "I saw him too many times on the flip side of things when he was in Detroit and I was in Cleveland. We'll have to see how he holds up physically. We'll have to see how he moves around."

Guillen is already missing time at Spring Training with calf tightness, which seems like a bad omen. Wedge insists the team is just playing it safe and giving Guillen the opportunity to pace himself.

For all news and information regarding the Seattle Mariners, please visit the incomparable Lookout Landing.

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Mariners Spring Training 2012: Hong-Chih Kuo Looking To Get Confidence Back

While with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2010 season, left-handed relief pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo played in 56 games, appeared in 60 innings, allowed 29 hits, only one home run, struck out 73, walked only 18 and had an ERA of 1.20. He was one of the league's most dominant lefty relievers that season, and he completely fell apart in 2011.

After his fifth elbow surgery, Kuo was placed on the DL due to an anxiety disorder that kept him from throwing the ball over the plate. His ERA dropped from 1.20 to 9.00, he only struck out 36, walked 23 and allowed 29 runs. After the 2011 season, he became a free agent and the Dodgers, understandably, decided not to re-sign him.

He signed a one-year deal with the Seattle Mariners and is working on getting his confidence back. Kuo thinks that he'll be just fine as long as his elbow holds up.

"If I stay healthy, I'll be able to do whatever I want to do," said Kuo, adding he has felt great in camp thus far after arthroscopic surgery Oct. 28. "I'll be able to get my confidence back and really be able to show people what I can do."

Mariners pitching coach Carl Willis knows that Kuo could be great for the team if his 2012 season is anything like his 2011 season, but he also understands that he can't push Kuo to get to that point to quickly. He needs to let him get back to where he was on his own.

"I've seen a guy that throws strikes in Spring Training in the bullpen," Willis said. "I think that's huge because he needs to take that confidence he has in those bullpens out into games and pound the strike zone, because his stuff is not a question."

On Friday night, in a game-like situation, Kuo walked two batters and retired the other three in a simulated inning. He is not going to be pitching in Sunday's intrasquad scrimmage, but he will be working out his arm on the side.

For more on the Seattle Mariners, head to Lookout Landing.

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Jack Zduriencik: "This is going to be a challenging year for us..."

Building a champion in major league baseball is not an overnight project and Seattle Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik wasn’t being shy when he told reporters that 2012 probably won’t be the year that you see the Mariners return to the playoffs for the first time since 2001.

“This is going to be a challenging year at the big-league level for us,” Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik told reporters. “Let’s not kid ourselves. We’ve got a young club, no matter how you shake it.”

The Mariners do have veterans in Ichiro, Chone Figgins, Brendan Ryan, and Felix Hernandez, but are expected to be led on offense by second-year second baseman Dustin Ackley (24 years old), catcher/designated hitter Jesus Montero (22) and left fielder Mike Carp (25.)

Eventually, James Paxton (23) and Danny Hultzen (22) are expected to join Felix as the leaders of the rotation this season as well.

That will give Seattle a young core that could develop into contenders in 1 or 2 years, but the front office clearly isn’t shy in asking fans to be patient and not expect a miracle 2012. (Clearly Jack isn’t a believer in the Mayan calendar.)

For more on the Mariners, go to Lookout Landing

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Mariners Spring Training 2012: Seattle Holds Intrasquad Game

As the Seattle Mariners start the long road back to what they hope is a successful rebuilding season in 2012, they're starting to gear up at their Spring Training facilities in Peoria, Arizona. On Friday, the team opted to play an intrasquad game.

Geoff Baker at The Seattle Times was kind enough to provide a live-blog of the intrasquad game. The competing Mariners lineups looked like this:

Squad 1:

Chone Figgins -3B
Dustin Ackley -2B
Casper Wells - LF
Justin Smoak - 1B
Miguel Olivo - C
Munenori Kawasaki - SS
Carlos Peguero - RF
Guillermo Quiroz - DH
Michael Saunders - CF

Squad 2:

Darren Ford - CF
Brendan Ryan - DH
Ichiro Suzuki - RF
Mike Carp - LF
Jesus Montero - C
Kyle Seager - 3B
Alex Liddi - 1B
Luis Rodriguez - 2B
Carlos Triunfel - SS

A few notable things about the game, which ended in a 3-3 tie. The dynamic of Figgins and Ford as opposing leadoff hitters is certainly intriguing (Figgins worked a long at-bat to lead off the game and ended up drawing two walks). Ichiro unofficially debuted as the numer-three hitter that we're to expect this season. This also marked the first time that top prospect Tijuan Walker faced off against major-league hitters. DH Brendan Ryan hit a home run off of Oliver Perez. Peguero had a triple.

This is just the slow burn leading up to real baseball, of course. Let's savor every sweet moment of it.

For all news and information regarding the Seattle Mariners, please visit the incomparable Lookout Landing.

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Mariners Spring Training 2012: A Look At Number Three Hitters In The Ichiro Era

The Seattle Mariners have announced that Ichiro Suzuki will bat third this season, ceding the leadoff spot to Chone Figgins. We take a look at the inconsistency of the No. 3 hitters throughout the Ichiro Era in Seattle.

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Yankees Sign Former Mariner David Aardsma

According to a report from MLB.com's Zack Meisel, the New York Yankees have signed former Seattle Mariners reliever David Aardsma to a $500,000 major league deal, though the right-hander will open the season on the disabled list as he continues his recovery process from Tommy John surgery.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the pitcher could return by July, and that his contract contains a club option for 2013. Aardsma hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues in 2010, when he saved 31 games for the M's, though posted a 0-6 record and 3.44 ERA. He also had 38 saves with a 2.52 ERA in 2009. Aardsma owns a 13-15 record and 4.20 ERA in six MLB seasons in his career.

As for his new start, Aardasma said going to the Yankees is always a great opportunity, but loves Seattle still.

Per the Seattle Times' Geoff Baker:

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Seattle Mariners Spring Training 2012: Ichiro To Bat Third

The Seattle Mariners are mixing things up this year. Ichiro Suzuki is moving down the order. Shannon Drayer has more on the Mariners Blog.

As for Ichiro hitting third, while I never bought into the thought that he could magically turn into a slugger who could hit 30 home runs a season if he was moved down in the order, I do like the move because it really shakes things up for him. Ichiro's classic Ichiro style did not work for him last year. If he were to hit second I don't think he would change much. Third is another story.

Greg Johns adds the following regarding manager Eric Wedge's decision-making.

"I’ve done a lot of thinking about it this winter and talked with the coaches and Jack [Zduriencik] and everyone," Wedge said. "Bottom line is for us to have the best lineup 1 through 9 out there. I want our lineup to be extended. I feel our best opportunity to score runs is with Ichiro batting third. It helps the guy in front of him, it helps the guy behind him and it helps him.

There have been clues that Seattle has been preparing for such a move for awhile.

What would be the motivations for taking him away from that steady number one spot?

It'll be interesting to see how well Ichiro fares here. He has to change his usual mechanics at the plate to try and generate more power while at the same time maintaining his hitting prowess. Is he capable of doing both so late in his career? It's always difficult to get a baseball player to learn new tricks, particularly when the old tricks have been so successful at making him one of the greatest in the game.

Well, here's to hoping this solves Seattle's hitting issues, and doesn't lead to an outbreak of double plays from the heart of the lineup.

To talk about Ichiro with Mariners fans, head on over to Lookout Landing.

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Seattle Mariners Spring Training: Brendan Ryan Should Start Throwing Soon

Seattle Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan has always struggled with injury issues. In two different stints, Ryan missed two weeks of action because of his back and shoulder issues

Larry Larue of the News Tribune reports that the shoulder is still bothering him.

Seattle Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan, who spent time on the disabled list with shoulder and back problems, still feels tightness behind his right shoulder and has been ordered not to throw a baseball so far in camp.

The team hopes that, like a pitcher brought along slowly, the shoulder work he does on and off the field will have him ready to play exhibition games and start the regular season healthy.


Read more here: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners/2012/02/20/ss-ryan-still-not-cleared-to-throw/#storylink=cpy

Ryan has always struggled with injuries as a Mariner, so it makes sense that he'd take his time. It doesn't make sense to rush Ryan back from injury when he can rest his shoulder and back and wait for them to get back to full strength. In baseball, the shoulder is probably the part of the body that fatigues the most. It's always important to keep in tip-top shape. Ryan had a batting average of .248 with an OBP of .313 last year, but the Mariners are sure hoping for better production if he gets back.

To discuss Ryan with Mariners fans, go to Seattle's SB Nation site covering Mariners baseball, Lookout Landing.

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Mariners' Eric Wedge On Kyle Seager's Chances Of Making Big-League Club

Kyle Seager is one of the big unknowns of the Seattle Mariners early season heading into 2012 Spring Training. Will he make the club? A lot of that will have to do with how well he performs and how everyone above him performs as well.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge is reluctant to get into questions on who could or could not make the squad this early in camp. Geoff Baker took a chance and asked anyway. He asked Wedge whether there is a minimal number of games Seager has to be able to realistically play each week in order for him to make the team.

"That's a good question,'' Wedge said. "It's something we'll have to take into consideration. I always take that into consderation with young position players and even with young pitchers for that matter -- in regards to innings pitched as a starter or appearances as a reliever and obviously, games played and at-bats from a position player standpoint.''

"He gained some invaluable experience, but having said that, he's come up here in a hurry. He didn't get a great deal of minor league time. He's a good hitter, he's a student of the game. And he's continuing to work hard to understand the game even that much better at this level.

"When it gets down to making those decisions at the end of camp, I think all of those are things we're going to have to take into consideration.''

With the Mariners committing a lot of time and money to Chone Figgins, the veteran might have a lot of say in whether or not Seager plays for the M's this season.

For more on the Mariners, frequent our SBN blog Lookout Landing.

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Carlos Guillen Excited to Try and Catch Back On with the Mariners

He was once part of a package sent to Seattle in return for Randy Johnson, but now Carlos Guillen is preparing to return to the Mariners to rejuvenate a career plagued by injuries over the last four seasons.

When Seattle traded him in 2004 for Omar Vizquel, the deal was nixed because Vizquel did not pass his physical. (Though the former Mariner Vizquel was still in the majors as of last season.) The M’s found themselves in a weird position and ended up dealing the SS Guillen to Detroit for a lesser package headlined by Ramon Santiago, who ended up playing in just 27 games for the Mariners over two seasons and winding up back in Detroit.

Guillen made three All-Star games over the next five seasons with the Tigers, living up to expectations unlike he ever had in Seattle. Still, he held no ill-will towards the organization and is now trying to make a comeback after playing in just 177 games from 2009-2011.

He told Greg Johns this about his return:

“It’s exciting, and I’m very happy,” Guillen said. "This is my first team in the big leagues, and I’m really happy because it was great times, a great organization and I have a lot of good memories from the past. I’ll just try to do my best.

Guillen hit .232/.265/.368 over 28 games last season, but reports that he is in good health and ready to fight for a spot on the 25-man roster.

For more on the Mariners, frequent our SBN blog Lookout Landing.

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Seattle Mariners Spring Training 2012: Ichiro To Be Replaced By Chone Figgins At Leadoff, According To Report

Ichiro Suzuki batting first in the lineup for the Seattle Mariners has been a staple for the last decade in the major leagues. Ichiro has been one of the most constant hitters out there for ages, and he still remains one of the most popular athletes in the city of Seattle by miles.

So this news has to be troublesome if it turns out to be true.

What is Eric Wedge thinking here? Chone Figgins makes $9.5M this year, $8.5M next year, option for 2014. But he's been a total bust for the Mariners and has created issues in the clubhouse, experienced his worst year in the MLB last year and has been slowing down in general. Figgins was a putrid .188 batting average with an OBP of .241 and OPS and .484. Ichiro went .272/.310/.645. Yeah, hard to see a dropoff there, right?

Very questionable decision if it does end up happening.

To talk about Ichiro, Figgins and the Mariners, head on over to Lookout Landing.

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Seattle Mariners Spring Training 2012: Ichiro OK With Possible Move Out Of Leadoff Spot

Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki has spent the majority of his career in the leadoff spot of the batting order, but now entering his twelfth season in MLB, he is possibly entering a new role on the team, and is OK with relinquishing the leadoff spot to someone else.

It's too early," Ichiro said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. "We just went through our first workout. But I can say this. I'm always prepared for a new challenge, and that's how we all have to move forward. If that's the case, we're just out there to perform as baseball players and go all out."

Skipper Eric Wedge spoke about the possibility of moving Ichiro somewhere down the line in the order during the offseason, but said he hasn't officially sat down with him to hash anything out:

"I haven't had that discussion with him," the second-year manager said. "As you know, I had multiple discussions with him this winter, as well as with other people...when it's time to let you guys know what I'm thinking and what we're planning on doing, we'll get it out to you."

The 38 year old Ichiro saw his numbers dip well below his career averages in 2011, didn't make the All-Star team, have 200 hits, or win a Gold Glove, something he did every year prior. Nevertheless, Ichiro is a consumate professional who only wants to help the team win. Even the fact he's entering the last year of his $18 million contract has no bearing on his mindset of the game:

"I don't think it's necessary for us to talk about a contract, because that's not going to change my approach," Ichiro said. "I work hard regardless."

We'll see where he's penciled in on Opening Day in Japan.

For more on the Mariners, head over to Lookout Landing.

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Seattle Arena Project: Mariners Would Welcome New NBA, NHL Team

Despite being one of the larger cities in the country, Seattle has just two professional sports teams among the four-major sports. While the Mariners and Seahawks have strong fan bases, potentially bringing in a new NHL and/or NBA team would certainly be a change of pace across the region. According to this latest update from Mariners Spring Training Camp, the club would welcome in a new franchise with arms wide open.

A proposal for a new $500 million arena that could house NBA and NHL teams in Seattle was met with approval Thursday by the Mariners, who say they'd welcome another sporting neighbor in the city.

The plan was unveiled by Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine, who said the facility has been proposed by a private investment group headed by Seattle native Christopher Hansen, a hedge fund manager in San Francisco.

"The Seattle Mariners are excited about this afternoon's announcement and the possibility of having NBA and NHL teams coming to the Seattle area," the team said in a release. "From our perspective, it is all about the fans and the community.

The proposed new area would be built just south of Safeco Field and would undoubtably bring new restaurants, bars, shops and night clubs to the area. It's tough to imagine why any professional sports team would object a new franchise coming to town, but this seems like a win-win situation for everyone involved.

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Kevin Millwood Brings Experience to Young Pitching Staff

With Erik Bedard, Michael Pineda, and Doug Fister no longer on the team, the Seattle Mariners rotation will start to take on a much different look this season.

Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas are the only pitchers that are locked into the rotation. Hasashi Iwakuma should earn a spot, but is making his first appearance in the U.S. and had shoulder problems in Japan last season. With Hector Noesi, Blake Beavan, Charlie Furbush, Danny Hultzen, and James Paxton all fighting for rotation spots, that’s where having a veteran like Kevin Millwood in Spring Training can really come in handy and give Seattle an experienced option for its fourth or fifth starter.

From King5:

“Kevin has been around for a good number of years now, he’s had a few stops along the way with some different pitching coaches and he knows himself very well,” Seattle pitching coach Carl Willis said. "How he goes about his business in a very confident way, that `Hey, I’m following the program, at the same time, I’m doing what I need to do within the program and not pushing the envelope’.I think everyone sees it.

Hultzen and Paxton will most likely start the season in the minor leagues, but are almost certain to be up with the big club at some point this season. Millwood was drafted in 1993 by the Atlanta Braves, when Mariners pitching prospect Taijuan Walker was less than a year old.

He made nine starts for the Rockies last season and posted a 3.98 ERA.

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Spring Training 2012: King Felix Ready To Lead Mariners, Happy Living In Seattle

The Seattle Mariners may be a franchise in transition, but they know one thing is for certain: Felix Hernandez is the ace of their pitching staff and projects to be a Mariner for the foreseeable future, according to the front office. And while King Felix won't have much help in 2012, he knows it's up to him to step up and be a leader for the younger players on the squad. Bob Baum of the AP has the latest update out of Mariners Spring Training Camp in Arizona.

PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) - He is the ace on a team that is struggling to find respectability in the tough AL West, and the role suits Felix Hernandez just fine.

"King Felix" says he is "not going anywhere," exactly the position of the Seattle Mariners' front office despite speculation that inevitably surfaces from time to time for a team that finished dead last in its division the past two years.

[...]

"I'm very happy with my career right now," Hernandez said before working out Tuesday on a chilly Arizona morning. "I know I'm still young and still can learn something new. I've just got to keep learning and keep doing what I do."

The Mariners appeared to take in the right direction with the acquisition of Jesus Montero, a slugger who projects to play either catcher or DH for the foreseeable future. He may not provide an immediate fix to the problems in Seattle, but it's a start. This will not be an overnight fix.

Seattle's climb to respectability could be a long one but Hernandez insists he will see it through.

"I'm not going anywhere, man," he said. "I'm staying here for a long time."

He, his wife and their two children live most of the year in Seattle, with trips to his native Venezuela for Christmas and New Year's, he said.

"I like the city," Hernandez said. "I love the people up there. I love Seattle."

We can only hope that by the time Felix is done in Seattle that the stay will have been worth his while. For the meantime, all M's fans can hope for is improvement this upcoming season, both from their ace and the rest of the 24 guys on the roster.

For more on the Mariners, head on over to Lookout Landing.

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Spring Training 2012: Mariners Add Split Squad Game

Big news, Mariners fans. I won't leave you in suspense:

If you're planning on being in the Tucson area on or abouts March 16th, you may want to grab yourself some tickets. In more interesting Mariners' news, I highly suggest you follow Geoff Baker at his Mariners' blog on the Seattle Times webpage. He had some interesting updates today, which is saying something, considering the early part of spring training is essentially a bunch of team-stretching.

Here are some updates from Baker for you to check out!

Mariners Blog | Hong-Chih Kuo, others, throw bullpen sessions under watchful Mariners eyes | Seattle Times Newspaper
You may have read our story in today's paper about Taiwanese relief pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo, ex of the Dodgers. As you'll know from the story, the Mariners are keeping a close eye on his bullpen sessions to ensure that he repeats his arm slot and mechanics so as to avoid a repeat of "the yips" that plagued him in two of the past three seasons.

Mariners Blog | Mariners manager Eric Wedge confirms Alex Liddi will be playing some first base this spring and onward | Seattle Times Newspaper
Third baseman Alex Liddi went out and took some grounders at first base during pitchers fielding practice (PFP) this morning. It turns out, he'll be doing that a lot more often this spring, both in workouts and in games.

Mariners Blog | James Paxton already showing stuff that might separate him from the Mariners' prospect pack | Seattle Times Newspaper
Wherever you go these days, it's impossible to hear folks talk about James Paxton without the names Danny Hultzen and Taijuan Walker popping up as well. The three are considered an inseparable trio, given their high pitching ceilings. But they are also at different stages of their development and I'm often asked which of the three will make it to the majors first.

Mariners | Is Mariners pitcher James Paxton this year's Michael Pineda? | Seattle Times Newspaper - Young left-hander James Paxton has been impressive early in Mariners camp. Paxton, drafted by the Mariners in 2010, has a great fastball-curve combo and is working on a changeup.

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Mariners Start Another Spring Training in Mourning

Going into the 2011 season, Seattle had to prepare for it’s first season ever without Dave Neihaus after his November 10, 2010 death. Nothing else could have seemed as unexpected or as tragic as that, but the Mariners got more bad off-season news when outfielder Greg Halman was stabbed to death just more than a year after Neihaus’s passing.

Mike Carp seems to be very affected by the passing and made up these t-shirts for the team:

Carp had this to say about Halman to the Seattle Times Geoff Baker:

“He impacted so many lives, it’s incredible,‘’ Carp said. "I only knew him for a short time compared to a lot of other people. But I’ll never forget him. He’s one of the most special people I’ll ever meet.’’

Halman was named by Baseball America as the 57th best prospect in 2009 and he fulfilled his dream of playing in the majors on September 23rd, 2010. He appeared in 35 games for Seattle in 2011 and hit .230/.256/.345 with 2 home runs.

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Spring Training 2012: Mariners Take Field For First Time [PHOTOS]

The Seattle Mariners just couldn't wait to get back to business this offseason, which is why they were the first team to have player's report for Spring Training this season. But now with the M's getting back together, it means it's time to get back to work, which the team did at the Peoria Sports Complex in Phoenix on Saturday.

Images for Seattle Times' Geoff Baker on Twitter:

King Felix taking in some sunshine with the boys:

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via p.twimg.com

Players preparing for PFE drills at Peoria Sports Complex:

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via p.twimg.com

Her's a look at Eric Wedge having a conversation with some of his assistant coaches, Pete Vuckovich and Ted Simmons:

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via p.twimg.com

Now if they can only get soe decent weather down there in Arizona...

For more in depth discussion and analysis of the Seattle Mariners, make sure you check out Lookout Landing, the place to be on the interweb for anything and everything Mariners.

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Three Mariners Players Make AL West All-Prospect Team

The Seattle Mariners have slowly been stockpiling talented young players over the last few years and now the evaluators are beginning to take notice.

Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com reports that three different Mariners players have been named to the AL West all-prospect team, as determined by general managers outside the division.

Two of the three M's players making the cut are starting pitchers. Danny Hultzen and Taijuan Walker are the two highest-ranked prospects for starters in the division and GMs seem to be particularly high on Walker.

"We love Taijuan Walker," the general manager interviewed for this story said. "We would probably take him at the top of the list of all those guys."

As for the best prospect at catcher in the AL West, it's really no contest. One of the latest Mariners acquisitions clocks in at number one in the position.

C: Jesus Montero (No. 12 on Top 100; Mariners' No. 1)
He's definitively the top prospect listed at this position, but the debate continues over whether he can actually stay behind the plate. Several teams think he'll be passable in a Javy Lopez/Mike Piazza way. The GM wasn't necessarily one of those people, though, and he's not alone. He'd likely take the A's Derek Norris if Montero wasn't a catcher.

For more on the Mariners and to discuss the club heading into Spring Training, head on over to Lookout Landing.

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Spring Training 2012: Mariners' Justin Smoak Seeks Break-Out Season

Seattle Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak was considered one of the most highly-regarded prospects in baseball when he was coming up but he hasn't lived up to that hype.

Since coming over to the Mariners in July 2010, Smoak hit .235 with 20 home runs and a .714 OPS while battling various injuries.

ESPN analyst and former MLB executive Keith Law stopped by "Brock and Salk" on 710 ESPN Friday and said he still thinks Smoak has a great career ahead of him.

"I don't think you really saw the real Justin Smoak. He got off to a great start, then his father passed away suddenly, and then the injuries started mounting. I don't think he was really ever healthy."

"If you ask any hitter, particularly a power hitter, the hand injury is one they fear because even when it's technically healed [and] you're cleared by the trainers to get back out into the cages, if you can't really grip the bat with your typical strength you're going to find it very hard to drive the ball. You may still be able to center up the baseball, but to actually drive it is extremely difficult with hand, thumb, wrist injuries, and they take a very long time to heal."

"So I kind of want to put that Smoak season behind us. Let's get a full, healthy, 500 at bats out of him this year. If he doesn't perform again I will stand up and say I was wrong about this kid, but I really don't think I am."

If he can stay healthy in 2012, we may finally see the Justin Smoak that everyone has been waiting to see.

For more on the Mariners and to discuss the club heading into Spring Training, head on over to Lookout Landing.

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Mariners Spring Training 2012: Pitchers And Catchers Report Saturday

Seattle Mariners pitchers and catchers officially reported to camp Saturday in Peoria, Illinois, a full week earlier than any other team.

Chief among them are Felix Hernandez (14-14, 3.47 ERA in 2011), Jason Vargas (10-13, 4.25), Blake Beavan (5-6, 4.27) and Brandon League (37 saves, 2.79). The Mariners are on the search for a true No. 2 starter this season behind Felix. The departure of Michael Pineda opens up the process and will allow Vargas, Beavan and many others compete for the spot.

Mariners position players are beginning to show up as well, including Justin Smoak, Mike Carp, Alex Liddi, Dustin Ackley and Munenori Kawasaki.

Here's a full list of who reported today officially:

Pitchers:

Blake Beavan
Shawn Camp
Steve Delabar
Charlie Furbush
Felix Hernandez
Danny Hultzen
Hisashi Iwakuma
Cesar Jimenez
Shawn Kelley
Hong-Chih Kuo
Brandon League
Lucas Luetge
Yoervis Medina
Hector Noesi
Mauricio Robles
Chance Ruffin
George Sherrill
Jason Vargas
Tom Wilhelmsen

Catchers:

John Jaso
Jesus Montero
Adam Moore
Miguel Olivo

For more on the Mariners and to discuss the club heading into Spring Training, head on over to Lookout Landing.

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Spring Training 2012: Mariners Look To Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak For Production

The Seattle Mariners have struggled over the last few seasons to score enough runs to win consistently. With limited funds to work with and a lack of production from veteran guys like Chone Figgins and Franklin Gutierrez, the front office has made it a point to bolster the middle of their lineup with young talent. While there are still quite a few problems with the team, M's fans should at least be looking forward to an improved lineup on a nightly basis.

Seattle made a huge splash just about a month ago when they acquired catcher Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda. Not only does it provide the team with a player capable of catching behind the plate, but it also gave them a legitimate cleanup hitter to provide protection for Dustin Ackley, who projects to hit third this upcoming season. Montero will likely be followed by Mike Carp and Justin Smoak, two other guys capable of providing power and driving in some runs.

It remains to be seen if Montero will be able to last behind the plate. Should he struggle in the early going, the Mariners could look to veteran catcher Miguel Olivo to serve as the starter as Montero becomes the DH.

Ichiro will continue to hit at the top of the order, although it remains to be seen what the club does with Chone Figgins, who had an incredibly awful season in 2011. It will likely be between Figgins and Kyle Seager for the third base job.

Regardless of who fills these other positions, Mariners fans need to remember this trio: Ackley, Montero and Smoak. These three are the future of the franchise, and the future may be here sooner than you think should they build off the strong campaigns they put together last year.

For more on the Mariners and to discuss the club heading into Spring Training, head on over to Lookout Landing.

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Mariners Spring Training 2012, Pitchers And Catchers

Since their season is kicking off early in the Land of the Rising Sun, the Seattle Mariners are having their pitchers and catchers report a full week earlier than any other team. Their position players will follow a week after that, but with a February 11 report date for the batteries, this means that as of Saturday, baseball is once again underway. We couldn't be happier.

The following players are set to be heading to Peoria, Arizona on Saturday:

Pitchers:

Blake Beavan
Shawn Camp
Steve Delabar
Charlie Furbush
Felix Hernandez
Danny Hultzen
Hisashi Iwakuma
Cesar Jimenez
Shawn Kelley
Hong-Chih Kuo
Brandon League
Lucas Luetge
Yoervis Medina
Hector Noesi
Mauricio Robles
Chance Ruffin
George Sherrill
Jason Vargas
Tom Wilhelmsen

Catchers:

John Jaso
Jesus Montero
Adam Moore
Miguel Olivo

Non-Roster Invitee Pitchers:

Matt Fox
Steve Garrison
Jarrett Grube
Aaron Heilman
Sean Henn
Josh Kinney
Jeff Marquez
Kevin Millwood
Scott Patterson
James Paxton
Oliver Perez
Stephen Pryor
Erasmo Ramirez
Forrest Snow
Philippe-Alexandre Valiquette

Non-Roster Invitee Catchers:

Ralph Henriquez
Guillermo Quiroz
Jesus Sucre

There are plenty of pitchers to keep your eye on during spring training. Of course, the biggest question mark on the active roster would be new acquisitions Hong-Chih Kuo and Shawn Camp. Of the non-roster invitees, the one name that immediately jumps out to me is Kevin Millwood, who spent time with three different major league teams in 2011 after signing minor league contracts. (He opted out of the first two.) Odds are that Millwood will wind up his career being this type of journeyman, but you can bet that every major league team will be looking for their own personal Ryan Vogelsong in spring training this year.

For all news and information regarding the Seattle Mariners, please visit Lookout Landing.

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Spring Training 2012: Mariners Team Full of Potential, and Question Marks

With pitchers and catchers reporting on Sunday (wait, what?) the excitement of Major League Baseball and the Seattle Mariners (no, I'm being serious about 'excitement') is just around the corner. Yes, we've already resigned ourselves to a season of mediocrity and that's fine, I guess, as long as there is some sort of tangible improvement and a feeling of forward movement with the state of the roster. Spring Training will be our first chance to get a glimpse of this.

We'll make sure to be watching parts of the young nucleus of the team in Jesus Montero, Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, and Kyle Seagar. Montero is the new kid on the block and a great many things are expected from him. Can he play catcher, the position they're hoping he'll play? Can he be that power hitter in the middle of the lineup the Mariners have been missing? Justin Smoak looks to improve from last year after facing some tough times at the plate and with the death of his father. Can he bounce back? Can he prove to be the guy the Mariners thought he was when they traded Cliff Lee for him?

We'll be looking for marked improvement in Chone Figgins and Franklin Gutierrez. Possibly realized potential in Michael Saunders, Mike Carp, and Adam Moore. Figgins may be moving to the leadoff spot and if that happens can he get his career back on track? With Guti's stomach ailment apparently healed and 15 pounds of muscle added, can one of the majors' best center fielders step it up at the plate?

As for the pitching, it's always fun to watch Felix Hernandez on the mound. Period. So there's that. We'll also get to see a whole slew of youngsters - Blake Beavan, Danny Hultzen, Hector Noesi, Charlie Furbush, and wily vets like George Sherrill and Shawn Camp. We'll get to see some players trying to resurrect their careers or come back from major injury, most notably Hong-Chih Kuo and Hisashi Iwakuma.

It should be one of the more interesting Spring Training sessions in recent years and I'm personally really looking forward to it. We'll bring you round-the-clock coverage of what's going on down in Peoria right here, so stay tuned. Ok, maybe just 'around-the-clock' for that one game that the Mariners are playing in Japan.

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Pitchers and Catchers Report on Saturday, On Field Work Begins Sunday

That’s right. The day after tomorrow, the Mariners will begin to work out and get back into game shape, with pitchers and catchers being the first ones to report. The rest of the team will join them on the 18th. Sports Illustrated covered the young team in this piece.

“A lot of guys have already rolled in here,” GM Jack Zduriencik said by telephone from Peoria. “Some guys are here working out on their own. You know how players are, they’re anxious and ready to get going this time of the year. I think everybody understands that, and we’ll monitor it. Eric [Wedge] does a real nice job with Spring Training to give the players the consideration and make sure they’re ready for Opening Day and throughout the season.”

You can just smell the grass, can’t you? It’s freshly cut!

No word yet on whether or not rookie sensation Jesus Montero is a “catcher.”

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Chone Figgins Not Comfortable Batting 2nd

According to an interview with Ken Rosenthal, Mariners 3B Chone Figgins had this to say about a possible move to the number two spot in the lineup compared to batting leadoff, if Ichiro is indeed moved down in the order as rumors from manager Eric Wedge suggest:

“It would be great to go back to leadoff and do that again,” Figgins said. “If not, I have to change my mindset as a ‘2’ hitter. I haven’t really changed my mindset to be a ‘2’ hitter. I’ve stuck with being a patient hitter.”

That’s interesting to hear, but what’s even more interesting is that clearly someone went in there and added a “2” to the quote not once, but twice.

Shame on you, journalist that added those "2"s.

For more on the Mariners offseason, check out Lookout Landing. Just be prepared to hear over and over again that Chone Figgins is indeed still a Seattle Mariner.

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Seattle Mariners In Line For Large 'Windfall' Of Money In Upcoming Years?

The Seattle Times' Geoff Baker wrote an excellent piece Wednesday discussing the financial future of the Seattle Mariners, stating that the team is likely in line for some pennies from heaven when their with ROOT Sports (owned by DirceTV) contract when an opt-out clause comes to pass in 2015.

Baker spoke to Adam Chase, a Washington D.C. based lawyer who has spent years working on sports licensing and media contracts. He believes the Mariners could have a better chance at a big money deal now that they have a chance to renegotiate their 10-year, $450 million deal with ROOT.

"The only way I can see for them not to be able to get a windfall is if the carousel stops, when the music stops'' Chase said. "It doesn't seem like it is. It seems like it's at a pretty feverish point. Will it stop at some point? Potentially. If you have the opportunity to get the money now, I'd say you have to seriously consider taking it.''

"If DirecTV wanted to, they could open up negotiations whenever they want,'' Chase said. "They could say 'Hey, listen, to keep you from going on the open market we're going to negotiate now and lock you up for the next 10 years.''

But the M's certainly have options. Much of this is contingent upon the status of professional sports in Seattle in the near future, whether or not another NBA and/or NHL franchise will come to town. But after his talks with Chase, Baker feels that are three ways the Mariners could go about all this:

1) Renegotiate their current deal with DirecTV or sign another one with rival Comcast to begin in 2015 that ups their current yearly TV rights take.

2) Form their own regional sports network, likely with one or more other pro teams as partners

3) Form their own regional sports network by teaming with an existing network

Starting their own Seattle based network would probably be most idea, especially if new franchises are heading to town, but it wouldn't be bad if they joined on with say, Comcast, for the right price of course. Similar deals with the Rockets and Astros have Comcast owning a percentage of the team.

Waiting to see if basketball and hockey are returning to Seattle isn't exactly the best plan for the M's but you have to go where the money flows. But if it's flowing right now, it might behoove them to simply take it.

For more on the Mariners offseason, check out Lookout Landing.

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MLB Free Agency 2012: Seattle Mariners Sign Hong-Chih Kuo, Shawn Camp

The Seattle Mariners have made some more free agent acquisitions this offseason. Hong-Chih Kuo is coming off a rough 2011 campaign with the Los Angeles Dodgers, with a 9.00 ERA in 40 relief pitching appearances and is probably at his lowest possible value. Seeing those stats, Seattle swooped in to grab Kuo. Kuo has been good (often real good) before 2011, so even a slight return to form would be a huge get for the team.

Shawn Camp was also another pickup. Camp is an aging reliever who could be a quality guy in middle relief and has an effective arm in general.

Chris Gimenez and Mike Wilson have been designated for assignment to make room for Kuo and Camp on the 40 man roster.

PS: 19 year old catcher Christian Carmichael is being suspended 50 games. So that stinks.

To discuss Kuo and Camp on the Mariners, go to Lookout Landing. Discuss Kuo with Dodgers fans at True Blue LA, and Camp with Jays fans at Bluebird Banter.

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Mariners Sign Carlos Guillen To Minor League Contract

Well, it's been rumored for a little while, but now it's official:

Infielder Carlos Guillen will look to make the Mariners' major league club this spring and if the name rings a bell that's because yes, this is the same Carlos Guillen that was part of the team from 1998 to 2003.

Guillen was originally acquired by the M's in a trade with Houston, along with pitcher Freddy Garcia, for Randy Johnson. He was a reliable infielder and solid hitter for the M's during a few of the glory years around the turn of the century, but really broke out after he left Seattle for Detroit. In 2004, he hit .318 with 20 HR, 97 RBI, and got his first All-Star nod for the Tigers. He battled an achilles injury the next season but returned to that All-Star form in '06 and '07, hitting .320 with 19 homers and 85 RBI and .296 with 21 HR and 102 RBI, respectively.

His numbers have dropped off significantly in the years since, and at 36 he'll look to impress enough to find himself a role on the team. It will be an interesting storyline to watch in Spring Training.

For more on the Mariners, make sure you check out Lookout Landing.

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Mariners Sign RHP Brian Sweeney to Minor-League Deal

The Seattle Mariners have signed veteran right-handed pitcher Brian Sweeney to a minor-league contract today, as reported by Greg Johns and Larry Stone.

Sweeney, 37, made his major-league debut with the Mariners way back in 2003, spent some time playing in Japan with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, then returned to the organization last year, playing with the Rainiers and Mariners, briefly. He went 1-2 with a 3.16 ERA, 14 strikeouts and six walks in 37 innings pitched.

Over his four-year major league career, Sweeney has gone 4-2 with a 3.38 ERA. He's struck out 54 while walking 25 and giving up 44 earned runs in 117 innings. He was also briefly with the Diamondbacks and Mets last season, and he'll

For more in depth discussion and analysis of everything Seattle Mariniers, make sure to check out Lookout Landing, the place to show off your fanhood on the interwebs.

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Mariners Offseason 2012: Eric Wedge Contemplating Moving Ichiro Out Of Leadoff Spot

With the start of Spring Training right around the corner, Seattle Mariners skipper Eric Wedge may be trying to tinker with his lineup a bit before the start of the 2012 regular season, possibly moving Dustin Ackley, Chone Figgins, or Franklin Gutierrez to the leadoff spot, and moving the aging Ichiro further down the line.

Per Greg Johns on Twitter:

After his first non-stellar season in 2011, many feel that time is simply catching up to the 38 year old, batting .272 last season, well below his .326 career average.

Per Tim Booth on Twitter:

It's not the end of the world, but possibly the end of an era with Ichiro blowing people's minds.

For more in depth discussion and analysis of everything Seattle Mariniers, make sure to check out Lookout Landing, the place to show off your fanhood on the interwebs.

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Five Seattle Mariners Make MLB's Top 100 Prospects List

The Seattle Mariners had five players named to MLB’s Top 100 prospects list for 2012:

C Jesus Montero (#12), LHP Danny Hultzen (#16), RHP Taijuan Walker (#18), INF Nick Franklin (#52), and LHP James Paxton (#77) all made the grade for the M’s this season.

Walker, 19, was the Mariners Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2011 going 6-5 with a 2.89 ERA (31 ER, 96.2 IP) with Single-A Clinton.

As for Paxton, 23, was recently named the No. 8 left-handed pitching prospect by MLB.com (Hultzen was No. 3). He made his 2011 debut with a 6-3 with a 2.37 ERA (25 ER, 95.0 IP) in 17 starts with A Clinton and AA Jackson.

Franklin, 20, is seen as the No. 6 shortstop prospect in MLB right now. Franklin hit .281with 64 runs scored, 13 doubles, 7 triples, 7 home runs and 26 RBI with the AZL Mariners, High Desert and Jackson. He was also the 2011 MVP of the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game.

For more on the M’s, check out Lookout Landing.

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Mariners Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak Reportedly Ready For Spring Break. I Mean Training.

Interesting news out of Mariners' headquarters Thursday, with trainer Rick Griffin letting all of us know that a couple of key players for Seattle's 2012's season might look a little different than they did last year.

Per Griffin:

In all seriousness, this is great news for M's fans, particularly about Guti, who battled a strange stomach ailment last season and struggled mightily as a result. With the IBS problems sorted out and apparently on an eating/lifting regimen, he's gained 14 pounds of muscle, which should help to give him a little more pop at the plate.

After hitting a combined 30 home runs and driving in 134 runs in his first two seasons with the Mariners, he slumped in 2011 with just one homer and 19 RBI in 92 games. Everyone knows Guti is a wizard in the outfield, but the Mariners simply need to get more production from him on offense. This certainly can't hurt.

For more on the Mariners, make sure you check out Lookout Landing.

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Seattle Mariners Unlikely To Make Big Move With Prince Fielder In Detroit

The Mariners had been linked to slugging first baseman Prince Fielder throughout most of the offseason, but the rumors finally came to an end on Tuesday as the All-Star signed a nine-year deal with the Detroit Tigers for upwards of $200 million dollars. With Fielder finally off the board, will the Mariners pursue any other notable free agents? Probably not, mostly because there aren't any out there that make a whole lot of sense.

Other than a utility player or corner outfielder there really aren't any impact bats left that would help the Mariners lineup, according to MLB Trade Rumors. The club could look to add a veteran starting pitcher or two, although it appears Jack Zduriencik is committed to rebuilding the franchise with young players and prospects. A veteran relief pitcher or two could be added, especially once their asking prices drop with Spring Training on the horizon.

The lack of moves may not be one that is appealing to M's fans, although the team appears to be headed in the right direction, even if they didn't land a big-time free agent like Prince Fielder.

To discuss the Mariners with other fans, head on over to Lookout Landing.

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Michael Pineda-Jesus Montero Trade Reaction From Seattle Mariners Fans

The Mariners and Yankees made quite the trade on Friday evening, sending Michael Pineda and Jose Campos to New York while Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi come west to Seattle. SB Nation Seattle already took a look at how the national media viewed the deal, but how did those who root for the M's on a nightly basis feel about the trade? We look to our very own blog, Lookout Landing, for some insight and comments on the trade.

From lead writer Jeff Sullivan:

I can't get over the fact that the Mariners now have Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero. I didn't think that was allowed. Smoak, Montero and Dustin Ackley could potentially - potentially - form a dynamite offensive core. Not long ago that trio would've made baseball people lose their shit. Before the 2010 season - the last time Smoak was rated - Baseball America had Smoak as baseball's #13 prospect, Ackley as baseball's #12 prospect, and Montero as baseball's #4 prospect.

An interesting question is where the Mariners go from here. I don't mean in the big picture; I mean immediately. Assuming the Mariners have money left, on whom do they spend that money? Prince Fielder almost certainly isn't an option anymore. Hiroki Kuroda just got snapped up, right as I started to like him. Do the Mariners try for Edwin Jackson? Do they somehow convince Roy Oswalt to play in the Pacific Northwest for a year? Do they trim payroll and piss everybody off? Do they trim payroll but then put those savings towards next year's payroll, pissing everybody off and then making everybody feel ashamed for getting pissed off?

We'll see. More to do. For now, this trade. It happened. It's a big one. I think the Yankees "won". Certainly, based on the Mat Latos example, they did. But the Mariners added two very interesting young players, one of whom is capable of doing some very interesting and very different things.

One of the comments from reader "Vogelscheuche" stood out:

Ok I'm a little more excited about this trade than I originally was.

Mostly because Ackley/Montero/Smoak/Carp could be pretty solid for many years.

And one more from reader "Chrisfyall":

Felix is ours and you can't have him

Seems troubling that six teams call Buster Olney saying, "Pineda was available?" because maybe we could have done better than this for Pineda.

But, geez.

Felix is still here, and we now have a young nucleus that could be good before Felix must go. That is the prism through which I view this trade. And that makes me happy.

It seems like most Mariners fans were just as surprised as most when this deal went down, and the main belief is that the Yankees won this deal as of today. As for the future, say, three years down the road, many feel it will balance out or the Mariners could pull ahead with the young nucleus Montero will be a part of.

For more reaction, be sure to head over to Lookout Landing.

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Michael Pineda-Jesus Montero Trade: Expert Reaction And Analysis

The Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees shocked the baseball world with their deal that sent Michael Pineda and Jose Campos to The Bronx for Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi. If both Pineda and Montero live up to their potential, both clubs should be extremely happy with the trade. With everything now official, here is some of the reaction from those around Major League Baseball.

Buster Olney of ESPN:

and another:

Jayson Stark loves the deal for what it is:

Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York gives his take:

You win with pitching, not hitting. The Yankees are betting Pineda is the real thing. There was a time during this past season when he was outpitching Felix Hernandez. Through July 4, Pineda was 9-8 with a 2.58 ERA. He was striking out nearly a batter per inning (106 in 108 innings). Then, apparently, he tired out.

So, just like Montero, Pineda has shown flashes of true greatness. The Yankees think there is more where those first three months came from.

Mariners beat writer Greg Johns:

Keith Law of ESPN:

This deal will certainly be the talk of the baseball world over the weekend. Most feel both sides will be happy in the long run. The Mariners got a potential catcher and (probably) their DH of the future, while the Yankees got a talented pitcher capable of being an ace one day.

For more on the deal and the Mariners, head on over to Lookout Landing.

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Michael Pineda-Jesus Montero Trade: Who Is Jesus Montero?

The Seattle Mariners have reportedly sent starting pitcher Michael Pineda to the New York Yankees for top hitting (and catching) prospect Jesus Montero. Pitcher Hector Noesi is also reportedly heading to Seattle, but make no mistake about it: this deal was made to get the Mariners an impact hitter with Montero. Let's learn a little bit more about the 22-year old catcher.

Montero has been ranked as a top-prospect for a few years now and scouts drooled over his bat as he made his way through the Minor Leagues. There are some (including quite a few in the Yankees organization) who had doubts whether or not he could handle being an everyday starter behind the plate and some believe he will end up as a first baseman and/or designated hitter. Keith Law of ESPN had him ranked as the No. 4 overall prospect in baseball entering the 2011 season.

He got a cup of coffee with the Yankees this past season, belting out four home runs in just 69 plate appearances. He hit .328/.406/.590 in that time, although it was from a small sample size that was aided greatly by a BABIP of .400. In 109 games at Triple-A, Montero hit .288/.348/.467 with 18 home runs and 57 RBI. The kid knows how to hit, folks.

Here is a snippet from John Sickels' scouting report that was written a few months ago.

The 6-3, 235 pound Montero has everything needed to be a force at the plate, including power to all fields, bat speed and strength to spare. His strike zone judgment isn't perfect, but his strikeout rate is reasonably low for a young power hitter, and while he could need some adjustment time, scouts anticipate he'll hit for average in the long run. Even a conservative estimate projects him as an above-average power hitter for years to come, and it is easy to envision him as an MVP-type producer at his peak, hitting .300 with strong home run production.

Any doubts about Montero center on his glove. He has a strong throwing arm, but his throwing mechanics are less than ideal and he's not especially effective against basestealers. He caught just 20% this year for Scranton, and 21% in his minor league career. Other aspects of his defense have gradually improved. He's steadily cut down on passed balls (15 last year but just seven this year) and errors, and he has improved his mobility behind the plate. However, despite the improvement in his statistics, most scouts still rate his defense as mediocre at best, and as he gets older what flexibility he has will likely decline. There has been some talk of making him a first baseman, but he's never played the position and that won't help him much in New York, anyhow.

In the end, Montero will likely spend much of his career at DH, and there's nothing wrong with that if his bat develops as expected. Given his sweet spot on the age curve, he should develop into a premium offensive force. Even if his glove never improves further, his bat will keep him in the lineup for a long time.

Assuming everything checks out once the players undergo physicals, this will go down as one of the biggest trades of recent years. The Mariners got themselves a potential All-Star caliber slugger, while the Yankees got themselves a proven starting pitcher with the talent to become an ace on the mound.

For more on the deal, head on over to Lookout Landing.

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