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Opening Day Right Around the Corner

October_Bound

Opening Day is just about 48 hours away, as the Mariners and Angels open the 2015 season at 1:10 pm Monday at Safeco Field. Major League Baseball has been rolling out team-by-team graphics on their social media channels (twitter, Instagram) and today the Mariners graphic went live. This is a pretty sweet image of Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Felix Hernandez. And we hope the message holds true for October Baseball! See you Opening Day!

Mariners Spring Training Update – Day 43

Friday, April 3, 2015 / 3 Days ‘til Opening Day (April 6 vs. LA Angels)

Game Recap:

Is it really time to go?

Is it really time to go?

Starting pitcher J.A. Happ allowed 2 hits in 4.0 scoreless innings and shortstop Brad Miller hit a two-run triple to lead the Seattle Mariners to a 5-4 win over the Colorado Rockies Friday evening in spring training play at Peoria Stadium.

The Mariners improved to 12-17-2 in preseason play with one exhibition game remaining tomorrow vs. the Rockies at Salt River Fields. The Mariners open the 2015 regular season Monday (April 6) vs. the Los Angeles Angels at 1:10 pm at Safeco Field (RHP Felix Hernandez vs. RHP Jered Weaver).

Starting pitcher J.A. Happ (2-3) turned in his best spring start in his final tune-up, scattering 2 hits in 4.0 scoreless innings. Happ struck out 4 batters and walked a pair while throwing 69 pitches (44 strikes). Relievers Danny Farquhar (1.1 IP, H, K) and Grady Wood (2.0 IP, 2 H, R, 2 K) and Paul Fry (1.0 IP, 2 K) held the Rockies to one run over the final 4.1 innings to secure the win. Fry recorded the save with a 1-2-3 9th inning with a pair of strikeouts.

The Mariners jumped out to the early lead with three runs in the bottom of the 2nd inning. Miller tripled in a pair of runs and scored on a sac fly by Austin Jackson. First baseman Logan Morrison added to the lead with a run-scoring single in the bottom of the 3rd inning.

The Rockies pulled to within one run at 4-3 with a three-run 5th inning. Four consecutive singles by DJ LeMahieu, Charlie Blackmon, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez led to the big inning.

Gabby Guerrero, the Mariners No. 3 prospect by MLB.com, added an insurance run in the 7th inning with a towering home run off the batter’s eye in center field.

Game Highlights: 

Good Genes: 

Mariners prospect Gabby Guerrero, nephew of Vladimir, hit a booming home run off the center field backdrop at Peoria Stadium. As a 20-year-old at High-A High Desert last season, he hit .307 (165×538) with 97 runs, 28 doubles, 2 triples, 18 home runs and 96 RBI in 131 games. We still don’t know where he is starting the season, but it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see him move up to Double-A Jackson.

Taking The Time:

Dustin Ackley stops in autograph alley.

Dustin Ackley stops in autograph alley.

It’s been a fun and eventful spring for autograph seekers. After players come out of the game, they pass through autograph alley where fans can line up and meet their favorite Mariners. Today, Brad Miller, Dustin Ackley and J.A. Happ came out of the game at the same time and all three stopped in the alley and signed until every single fan had a chance to have their souvenir signed. The Mariners really appreciate the fan support and make sure to stop by to say thanks.

Seattle Times Special Section Photography:

Ever wonder what goes into photographing the Mariners special section for the Seattle Times? Check out the link above to read about Bettina Hansen‘s first-hand account of her great photos.

Tweet of the Day:

Getting Ready for Opening Day – Pace of Play

MLB Addresses the “Pace of Game”

One thing that has separated the game of baseball from the other major sports is that there is no clock in baseball.  And while two new clocks have been installed this week at Safeco Field and the 29 other Major League ballparks, each team will still get its 27 outs per game (if they need all 27).  Teams won’t run out of time, only those valuable outs.

The two clocks (one on the facing of the east end of the left field bleachers; the other behind the plate just below the press box) are there as part of Major League Baseball’s “pace of game initiative.”  For most regular season games (other than national telecasts), both clocks will be set to start at 2:25 for each inning break and pitching change, and the countdown will ensure that the pitcher and leadoff hitter are ready to go on time. Over the years, many breaks have lasted over 3 minutes, mostly because the pitcher and hitter aren’t ready to go.  And there was no clock to follow.

Fans in the ballpark for the opening series against the Angels (April 6-7-8) can keep track of the time between innings right along with the umpires:

  • With 30 seconds left on the clock, the pitcher must throw his final warm-up pitch.
  • With 25 seconds left, the batter walk-up music will end.
  • The batter must be in the batter’s box with between the 20-second and 5-seconds remaining.
  • The pitcher must begin his windup before the clock runs out.

Keep in mind, there is a difference between “pace of game” and “time of game.”  In 2014, Mariners regular season “time of game” average 2:45, the fastest team in MLB.  Pace of game is meant to keep the game action itself moving along between pitches, between batters and between innings.

One Foot in the Box
Another area of emphasis in 2015 will be the enforcement of rule which requires that all batters must keep at least one foot in the batter’s box during an at-bat.  There are several common sense exceptions to the rule, but generally speaking, this also should improve the pace of play.  Keep an eye on this as the season gets underway.

Here is a visual look at the new pace of game guidelines:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mariners All Access is on the Air for 2015

Root_sports_logo

Mariners All-Access on ROOT SPORTS makes its 2015 debut on Sunday at 3:30pm. Here’s what’s on tap for this week’s episode:

  • Felix Hernandez Change up – The King has the best change-up in the game and he shows us the grip he uses and explains how it was developed.
  • Starting pitchers preview – Bill Kruger gives his overview on the starting rotation and what he likes about the guys taking the mound every 5 days.
  • Bullpen preview – Bill also weighs in on the bullpen and what needs to happen to match the efforts of last year’s relievers.
  • Starting lineup/Outfield rotation – Former outfielder Jason Bay explains how Lloyd McClendon can use his outfielders in various situations thanks to the added depth this season.
  • Managing Expectations – The Mariners are considered favorites to win the AL West and ranked among the top teams in baseball. Former catcher and minor league manager Dave Valle explains why those expectations won’t faze this team and what needs to happen early to build confidence.
  • Players to watch in Tacoma – There’s not only optimism in Seattle, but throughout the organization thanks to the talent across the board. Spring Training gave fans a chance to see up-and-comers like D. J. Peterson and Ketel Marte. They should continue to follow these players and others as they build on that success.

Mariners All Access airs:

  • Sunday 3:30pm, 5:30pm
  • Monday 11:30am, 4:30pm, 5:30pm
  • Tuesday 6pm
  • Thursday 6pm, 8:30pm
  • Friday 6pm

Mariners Spring Training Update – Day 40

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 / 6 Days ‘til Opening Day (April 6 vs. LA Angels)

Game Recap:

Seattle Mariners' Nelson Cruz (23) smiles as he celebrates his two-run home run against the Cleveland Indians with Robinson Cano, right, during the first inning of a spring training baseball game Tuesday, March 31, 2015, in Goodyear, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Seattle Mariners’ Nelson Cruz (23) smiles as he celebrates his two-run home run against the Cleveland Indians with Robinson Cano, right, during the first inning of a spring training baseball game Tuesday, March 31, 2015, in Goodyear, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Rickie Weeks and Nelson Cruz both hit first-inning home runs but the Indians scored 7 runs off Felix Hernandez in an 8-6 Cleveland win in Cactus League play Tuesday afternoon at Goodyear Stadium.

The Mariners jumped out to the early lead with three runs in the first inning. Weeks hit a tape-measure leadoff home run to center field, and after a Robinson Canó double, Cruz hit a 2-run homer to center field to stake the Mariners to a 3-0 lead.

Cleveland answered with 4 runs in the bottom half of the first off Mariners starter Felix Hernandez. Right fielder Brandon Moss provided the big blow with a 2-run home run to right field. Cleveland added another 3 runs in the second inning on RBI doubles by Michael Bourn and Carlos Santana.

The Mariners scored one run in the second, as Brad Miller tripled and came home on a 2-out RBI single by Austin Jackson. Seattle’s final two runs came in the 8th inning, as Dustin Ackley and Mike Zunino slugged RBI doubles.

Game Highlights:

Packing Leads to Tough Decisions:
With the Spring Training schedule coming to a close, and the truck leaving tomorrow to head back to Seattle, everybody is scrambling to pack all their belongings. Sometimes when you pack, you have to make some hard decisions. Clearly, Taijuan Walker is struggling.

Speaking of Packing:

In search of assistance.

In search of assistance.

The Mariners clubhouse guys (Ryan Stiles, Billy Sepich, Chris DeWitt, Pete Fortune, Jeff Bopp and Jason Brody) have been working overtime the last few days to make sure all of the equipment, uniforms, office supplies (and anything else you can think of) make it on to the truck back to Seattle. As you may have read on this blog a few months ago, the Mariner Moose happily helped load the truck when it was on its way to Arizona. As you see above, the clubhouse crew had just one question: “Where is the Mariner Moose when you need him to help pack?”

 950 KJR Arrives In Mariners Camp:
As you may have heard on the airwaves, KJR’s Ian Furness, Jason Puckett and Dave Softy Mahler arrived in Mariners camp and you can hear some of their interviews with Danny Farquhar, Mike Zunino and Fernando Rodney among others.

Fernando Rodney on the Ian Furness Show

Brad Miller on the Ian Furness Show

Danny Farquhar on the Ian Furness Show

Mike Zunino on the Ian Furness Show

J.A. Happ on the Ian Furness Show


Wrapping Up Spring Training Visit:

For those who have read the blog at some point during Spring Training, you no doubt saw some of the great photographs from Seattle Times photographer Bettina Hansen. Now that she’s back in Seattle getting ready for Opening Day, she’s begun to post some of her favorite photos on her Instagram account. Be sure to check them out.

Tweet of the Day:

Victor Sanchez (1995-2015)

Victor

The Mariners lost a member of the family on Saturday night as Venezuelan prospect Victor Sanchez succumbed to injuries sustained in mid February. He was just 20 years old.

Victor may be gone, but not forgotten, as various members of the baseball family had their way of remembering him on a tough day.

Greg Johns has the story of Jabari Henry, who hit a home run in yesterday’s game and said “one hundred percent, that was for him. All of today was all for him.”

Diario Panorama’s Augusto Cardenas checked in with Felix Hernandez about the passing of a young man who left us too soon.

Felix Hernandez sits next to Victor Sanchez's jersey prior to the game. (credit: Augusto Cardenas)

Felix Hernandez sits next to Victor Sanchez’s jersey prior to the game. (credit: Augusto Cardenas)

The Mariners during a moment of silence for Victor Sanchez.

The Mariners during a moment of silence for Victor Sanchez.

The Clinton LumberKings, the Mariners Single-A affiliate posted a clip from the final out of Victor’s no-hitter there in 2013.

Makeshift Memorial Begins In Front of Spring Training Offices

Teammates and fans have begun a memorial in front of the Spring offices in Arizona for Victor Sanchez.

Teammates and fans have begun a memorial in front of the Spring offices in Arizona for Victor Sanchez.

Mariners Spring Training Update – Day 38

Sunday, March 29, 2015 / 8 Days ‘til Opening Day (April 6 vs. LA Angels)

Game Recap:
Dustin Ackley went 2-for-3 with his first home run, but the Mariners came up short in a 8-5 loss to the San Diego Padres Sunday afternoon in Cactus League play at Peoria Stadium.

The Padres jumped out to an early 5-0 lead after three innings. Wil Myers and Matt Kemp both homered off Happ as part of the three-run first inning.

Minor league outfielder Jabari Henry plated the Mariners first run with a leadoff home run in the top of the 4th inning off Padres starter Andrew Cashner. Henry finished 2-for-5 with 2 RBI.

Ackley fueled the Mariners three-run 7th inning with a 2-run, opposite field home run off left-handed relief pitcher Chris Rearick.

Starting pitcher J.A. Happ (1-3) suffered the loss allowing 11 hits and 6 runs (5 ER) in 5.0 innings. He walked a pair, struck out three and allowed two home runs.

Game Highlights:

Chris Taylor Progressing: 
Shortstop Chris Taylor continues to progress after fracturing the triquetrum bone in his right wrist the middle of March. Although he’s taken the field before today, he took grounders at the half field this morning but did not throw.

Felix Hernandez Checks In With Diario Panorama:
Diario Panorama’s Augusto Cardenas checked in with Felix Hernandez about his expectations for the season, his preparation and the clubs new additions this offseason. Be on the lookout for his work (in Spanish) on panorama.com.ve

Diario Panorama's Augusto Cardenas checked in with Felix Hernandez.

Diario Panorama’s Augusto Cardenas checked in with Felix Hernandez.

Even Felix’s Bullpens Draw A Crowd:
When you’re the King, even the day-to-day things you do draw a crowd. Felix Hernandez had a bullpen session this morning in advance of his start on Tuesday against the Indians and had quite the following as you can see.

Felix Hernandez works on his pitches during a bullpen session (credit: Bettina Hansen - Seattle Times).

Felix Hernandez works on his pitches during a bullpen session (credit: Bettina Hansen – Seattle Times).

The Fernando Rodney Experience:
If you’ve spend any time around Fernando Rodney, you know that he likes to dance. Today was no different.

Mariners Trim Roster Down To 28 Players:
Today’s roster moves leave the Mariners with 28 players in their Major League camp: 27 roster players and 1 non-roster invitee.

Optioned to AAA Tacoma (2):

  • Left-Handed Pitcher (1):    Roenis Elias
  • Right-Handed Pitcher (1):  Carson Smith

Re-Assigned to Minor League Camp (8):

  • Right-handed Pitchers (3): Mark Lowe, Jordan Pries, Kevin Correia
  • Left-Handed Pitchers (1):  Joe Saunders
  • Infielders (2):                    Shawn O’Malley, Carlos Rivero
  • Catcher (1):                      John Baker
  • Outfielder (1):                   Endy Chavez

Mariners Spring Training Update – Day 37

Saturday, March 28, 2015 / 9 Days ‘til Opening Day (April 6 vs. LA Angels)

Game Recap:
Catcher Mike Zunino hit a pair of home runs, but the Seattle Mariners let a late lead slip away allowing 5 runs in the top of the 9th inning in a 9-8 loss to the San Francisco Giants Saturday afternoon in front 11,173 fans at Peoria Stadium.

The Mariners have dropped four straight games to fall to 10-14-2 in Cactus League play.

Seattle led 8-4 entering the 9th inning, before the Giants scored 5 runs off relief pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (1-2). Shortstop Kelby Tomlinson hit a game-tying 2-run triple and scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch by Mark Lowe.

Zunino hit solo home runs to lead off the 2nd and 6th innings, giving him a team-leading 6 home runs this spring. Zunino also recorded a multi-homer game March 20 at Texas.

Starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma allowed 5 hits and 4 runs in 5.0 innings. The Right-hander struck out 4 batters and walked a pair in his third Cactus League start.

The Mariners erased an early 1-0 Giants lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the 1st inning. Robinson Canó drove in a run on a double to left field and Nelson Cruz put the Mariners ahead with a sacrifice fly to left field.

Zunino led off the bottom of the 2nd inning with the first of his two home runs to give the Mariners a 3-1 lead. After the Giants retook the lead on a 3-run home run by Justin Maxwell, Seattle answered right back with a 3-run inning of its own. Kyle Seager tied the game with a solo home run to right field to open the frame, and run-scoring singles by Willie Bloomquist and Justin Ruggiano followed to extend the lead.

Hit it Hard
Mike Zunino homered twice in today’s game, his fifth and sixth longballs of the spring. It was also his second two-homer game this spring (also: March 20 at Texas in Surprise). Mike’s six homers trail only Kris Bryant (Chicago-NL) this spring.

Game Highlights:

 

Who Is The Mariners Opening Day Starter?

Looking For Mariners Autographs? Come to Arizona:
Spring Training is pretty laid back for the players and staff and that gives fans an opportunity to get up close to their favorite Mariners. Every day, Mariners personnel stop to sign autographs and today was no different as Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager both took time to sign for fans.

Robinson Cano signs after taking BP.

Robinson Cano signs after taking BP.

Kyle Seager signs autographs by the bullpen area.

Kyle Seager signs autographs by the bullpen area.

Opening Day Thoughts:
MLB.com’s Greg Johns chatted with Manager Lloyd McClendon about what will be his 35th Opening Day and how special those are to start the year. On Sunday, Greg will check in with Felix Hernandez to chat about making another Opening Day start for the Mariners. Be on the lookout at Mariners.com to watch the full interviews when they get posted.

MLB.com's Greg Johns chats with Lloyd McClendon about Opening Day.

MLB.com’s Greg Johns chats with Lloyd McClendon about Opening Day.

Crowding In
The Mariners had another nice crowd today in Peoria, drawing 11,173 for the Giants game. That brought the spring total to 114,605, an average of 8,816 in the 13 games played so far. The 114,605 is already the most fans Seattle has drawn to spring since drawing 120,358 to 15 games in 2010. At this pace, Seattle will close out the spring with an attendance of over 141,000 fans; the club’s all-time spring attendance mark was set in 2002 when 145,146 came to 15 games in Peoria.

 

Mariners Spring Training Update – Day 35

Thursday, March 26, 2015 / 11 Days ‘til Opening Day (April 6 vs. LA Angels)

Game Recaps:

Mariners vs. Royals in Peoria:

Seattle got a strong start from Felix Hernandez but were shut out offensively en route to a 3-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Thursday afternoon in front of 6,523 fans at Peoria Stadium.

Hernandez allowed just two hits in 6.0 efficient innings, making only 65 pitches, 45 of them for strikes. The lone run scored on a leadoff double in the third inning by Christian Colon who eventually scored on a sacrifice fly. Following his outing, Hernandez threw additional pitches in the bullpen to raise his pitch count.

Seattle only collected a pair of hits in the game, a single to center by Nelson Cruz in the 5th, and a single to center by Shawn O’Malley in the 6th inning.

Relievers Tyler Olson (0.1 IP), Yoervis Medina (0.2 IP), Grady Wood (0.1 IP) and Charlie Furbush (1.0 IP) each had scoreless outings for Seattle.

Mariners vs. Brewers in Maryvale:

Left fielder Khris Davis hit a first-inning grand slam to lead the Milwaukee Brewers to a 15-1 victory over the Mariners Thursday afternoon in split-squad Cactus League action at Maryvale Baseball Park.

The Brewers jumped out to the early 4-0 when Davis hit a grand slam in the first inning off starter Roenis Elias. Milwaukee would add three more runs in the 4th inning, a pair in the 5th to extend the lead to 9-1, and then two more in the 7th inning. Second baseman Luis Jimenez capped the scoring with an 8th-inning grand slam.

The Mariners scored their lone run in the 3rd inning on a single by catcher Jesus Sucre. Shortstop Willie Bloomquist hit a one-out double and scored on the sharp single to left by Sucre.

Elias (0-2) suffered the loss allowing 8 hits and 6 runs in 3.0 innings (plus 2 batters).

The Mariners were out-hit 22-4 in the game. Bloomquist (2B), Sucre (RBI 1B), Austin Jackson (1B) and Robinson Canó (1B) recorded the Mariners hits.

Game Highlights (vs. KC):

Be Sure To Follow:
If you’re not already, be sure to follow Seattle Times photographer Bettina Hansen on Twitter and Instagram for her coverage of Mariners Spring Training. Here are just a few of her shots from today.

Not a cloud… #MarinersST #SpringTraining

A photo posted by Bettina Hansen (@bettinahansen) on

Kingdome Demolition Anniversary:
It was 15 years ago today that the Kingdome came down, bringing an end to a building that hosted the Seattle Mariners (1977-99), Seattle Seahawks (1976-2000), Seattle SuperSonics (1978-85), NASL Seattle Sounders (1976-83) and hosted NCAA Final Fours in 1984, 1989 & 1995.

 

 

Joey Cora to throw out Ceremonial First Pitch on Opening Day

Cora_Blog

Joey Cora, the scrappy second baseman who was a fan favorite during his years with the Mariners, has been tabbed to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day April 6.

Cora, who was affectionately known as Little Joey Cora due to his small stature, played for the Mariners from 1995-1998. During that time, he endeared himself to fans with his hustle and enthusiasm and his tearful reaction to the Mariners heartbreaking loss to the Cleveland Indians in the 1995 American League Championship Series.

Cora had an 11-year career as a Major League player with the Padres (1987, 1989-1990), Mariners, White Sox (1991-1994) and Indians (1999). He was also a member of the coaching staffs of the White Sox (2004-2011), where he won a World Series championship ring in 2005, and with the Miami Marlins (2012).

His time in Seattle was Cora’s most productive at the plate. His best year was 1997 when he hit a career high .300, and was named an alternate to the American League All-Star team. His 24-game hitting streak that year was a Major League record for a switch hitter, and stood as a Mariners record until it was broken by Ichiro Suzuki. Teammate Randy Johnson told the Seattle P-I in 1997 that Joey was “the ideal leadoff hitter.” He also described him as “our sparkplug” who “makes things happen.”

Joey was also active in the community. He established the Joey Cora Children’s Foundation and hosted an annual event called Joey Cora Night of Stars where fans were entertained by famous Latin musicians and rubbed shoulders with baseball players. The events raised money for a treatment center for HIV-positive kids in his hometown of Caguas, Puerto Rico, and for children’s health and education programs here in Washington.

Opening Day pregame ceremonies will start around 12:30pm. Game time is 1:10 pm against the Los Angeles Angels.

Joey Cora played four seasons with the Mariners (1995-98) and was part of two playoff teams.

Joey Cora played four seasons with the Mariners (1995-98) and was part of two playoff teams.

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