Mariners Spring Training Update – Day 18

Another beautiful day at Peoria Stadium.

Another beautiful day at Peoria Stadium.

Saturday, March 2, 2013 / 30 Days ‘til Opening Night (April 1 at Oakland) / 37 Days ‘til Opening Night in Seattle (April 8 vs. Houston)

Home Run For Life:
Prior to today’s game vs. the Dodgers, the Mariners team cheered on Walter Weaver as he toured the bases on a Home Run for Life trot. Walter, who resides in Anchorage, Alaska, has been cancer free for over one year and celebrated today by taking a jaunt around the bases and throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Walter was a college player who coached youth baseball for nearly 30 years, and he fired a strike to Taijuan Walker. While Walter was talking with manager Eric Wedge prior to the game, he mentioned that his wife, Easter, was a big Felix Hernandez fan. Moments later, Felix bounded from the dugout to sign Easter’s t-shirt, a ball, and pose for pictures.

Taijuan Walker talked to Walter Weaver prior to his Home Run for Life trot around the bases.

Taijuan Walker talked to Walter Weaver prior to his Home Run for Life trot around the bases.

Mariners Win Eighth Straight:
Franklin Gutierrez
went 2-for-3 with a home run, double and 4 RBI to lead the Mariners to their eighth consecutive win with a 9-5 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Mike Zunino also hit a home run in the win. Starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma did not factor into the decision allowing one run in 2.0 innings. Jeremy Bonderman (1-0) recorded the win allowing 3 hits and 2 runs in 2.0 innings. You can view a full box score and recap on Mariners.com. And here are some video highlights from the game via MLB.com.

Winning Streak:
The Mariners 8-game win streak is tied for the longest in a single spring training in club history, equaling an 8-game streak April 28-April 4, 1993.

Paulino-Zunino-Andino:
Say those three names a few times in a row and it is sure to be a tongue-twister (Ronny Paulino, Mike Zunino, Robert Andino). When I first gave our spring roster a thorough read, I wondered if those three players would ever end up in the same lineup and possibly even in succession causing an odd rhyming trio. Today Paulino-Zunino-Andino batted 6th, 7th and 8th in the Mariners starting lineup.

Smoak’s BP Routine:
For most players, getting in the batting cage for BP is pretty simple. Lay down a few bunts, take a round of situational hitting and then take some full swings. For Mariners switch-hitters, in this case Justin Smoak, the routine is a little bit more involved. Smoak is a natural right-handed batter, but always starts his BP rounds out hitting left-handed. He then alternates between the left and right side of the plate, trying to get loose from both sides. And it doesn’t matter if a left-handed or right-handed pitcher is starting that day, he always takes the same approach. And get this, Justin actually uses different bats depending what side of the plate he is swinging from. Today he was swinging a black bat from the left side (which produced some moon shots) and an ash-colored bat from the right side. When I asked Justin about his routine, he said “it is pretty goofy” but something he adopted last season when he worked on getting into a better routine prior to each game.

Photo Mar 02, 9 50 05 AM

Mariners jerseys hang in their lockers prior to the game vs. the Dodgers.

Hey, We Know You:
Current Los Angeles Dodger closer Brandon League stopped by the Mariners clubhouse after the team bus arrived from Glendale. One of the more popular teammates over the last few years when he was with the Mariners, League was embraced by his several players, including his buddy Felix Hernandez. League was traded to the Dodgers last July for RHP Logan Bawcom and OF Leon Landry…League saw 1.0 inning of work in the Dodgers loss, allowing 3 runs (1 ER).

Happy Birthday Nick:
Mariners infielder Nick Franklin celebrated his 22nd birthday today. Usually not the bashful type, Nick was saying his birthday was not correct in the media guide when teammates were giving him a hard time about his birthday, but finally relented and realized that 22 was not as bad as he thought.

Going to B.A.T.:
The Mariners daily team meeting featured special guests this morning, members of the Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.) board as well as a B.A.T. recipient who shared how the B.A.T. grant impacted his life. Last spring more than 1,300 players, coaches and managers from all 30 MLB Clubs collectively pledged a record donation of $2,282,125 to the Baseball Assistance Team during the organization’s tenth annual Spring Training tour to raise funds for members of the Baseball Family in need of assistance. The donations, which were a 10% increase in monetary commitments compared to 2011, were made through the MLB Payroll Deduction Program, allowing players to provide funding for B.A.T. throughout the course of the season. Through 2012, the Spring Training fundraising total is more than $13 million pledged over ten years. Former Mariner outfielder Randy Winn is the Vice President of B.A.T. The Baseball Assistance Team is dedicated to the baseball family taking care of the baseball family, as anyone (former player, front office, umpire, coach) in need can apply for grants.

Pretty Cool Moment for Logan:
Following earning the save in yesterday’s 8-6 win over the Rangers, Mariners relief pitcher Logan Bawcom sent out the following message via twitter:

I talked to Logan today, and he said it was a surreal moment since he grew up a Rangers fan (he is from the Midland, Texas area), went to college at Texas-Arlington (miles away from Rangers Ballpark) and his parents currently reside in Fort Worth. He said he was a little nervous after initially looking into the batter box and seeing the familiar Rangers logo, but then relaxed and took care of business. He allowed a leadoff double, he calmed down and retired the last three batters he faced, including consecutive strikeouts to end the game and earn the save.

Tweet of the Day:

Heating Up:
Today was the warmest day since the team arrived in Arizona, with game-time temperature registering 73°, and climbed into the low 80’s later in the day. The extended forecase in the Valley of the Sun shows that 70’s and 80’s are on tap for the next few days.

Zunino Named Sullivan Award Semifinalist:
Mariners catcher Mike Zunino was announced as one of the 15 semifinalists for the 83rd Annual AAU James E. Sullivan Award. Known as the “Oscar” of sports awards, and older than the Heisman Trophy, the AAU Sullivan Award honors the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. Zunino was the Mariners first-round selection (3rd overall) after an All-American career at the University of Florida that included winning the 2012 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, the Dick Howser Trophy and the Johnny Bench Catcher of the Year Award. And of course Zunino responded by hitting his first spring home run in the third inning vs. the Dodgers.

Felix signed autographs during practice.

Felix signed autographs during practice.

On Tap Tomorrow (Sunday, March 3):
The Mariners (8-1) continue Cactus League travelling West down Bell Road (or Grand Avenue if you prefer) to take on the Texas Rangers (2-6-1) in Surprise (1:05 pm MT/12:05 pm PT). The game will again be broadcast on 710 ESPN Seattle and the Mariners Radio Network (Aaron Goldsmith & Dave Sims will have the call). Left-hander Joe Saunders will make his first spring start (2nd appearance) against Rangers right-hander Justin Grimm.

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