By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
PEORIA, Ariz. — Manager Lloyd McClendon is already chafing at any characterization that paints the Seattle Mariners as Robinson Cano and a cast of nobodies.
“I always get a chuckle,” McClendon said, “when people say, ‘The Seattle Mariners signed Cano. They can’t stop there. What else are they going to do?’ Well, the last time I looked, we had a pretty talented club.
“We have a third baseman (Kyle Seager) who is one of the top 10 third basemen in baseball. We’ve got kids at shortstop who can play. (Nick) Franklin and (Brad) Miller, those are talented kids.
“(Justin) Smoak is starting to come into his own. He hit 20 home runs last year. And we’ve got some arms that everybody in baseball would do backflips to get.
“I just find it amusing when people say, ‘What else are they going to do?’ It’s not like we’ve got chopped liver in that locker room. There’s a certain maturation process that takes place with any player.”
McClendon took a breath, and then plunged on:
“I say this all the time,” he added. “Miguel Cabrera (the 2012, 2013 MVP) had to have his first at-bat at some point before he got good. It’s the same thing for guys in that locker room; they’ve got to get their first at-bat, too.”
Cabrera played just 87 games as a rookie in 2003 but got votes for MVP and Rookie of the Year after batting .268 with 12 homers and 62 RBI … and he then helped the Marlins win the World Series.
“That’s part of the message we’re sending here,” McClendon said. “Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t be good. That’s not an excuse for not being good.
“We develop in the minor leagues. We win at the major leagues.”
Even so, but the Mariners remain linked to free-agent pitcher Ervin Santana (as they were with pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez before he reached a four-year agreement Monday afternoon with Baltimore).
They also continue to pursue a right-handed power bat, although talks with free-agent outfielder Nelson Cruz appear to have cooled.
Cano might not be all the Mariners have, but club officials are bracing for what projects as a media crush surrounding his arrival in camp for today’s first full-squad workout at the Peoria Sports Complex.
The club has scheduled an introductory Cano news conference in the multi-purpose room of their complex to avoid an anticipated clubhouse crush. It will take place shortly after the workout concludes.
Cano did not arrive Monday on the reporting date for infielders and outfielders, which is typically when those players take their routine spring physical examinations.
That wasn’t necessary in Cano’s case since he underwent a physical in December prior to signing his 10-year deal for $240 million.
Displaced second baseman Franklin will draw some time at his former position, but McClendon reiterated that Franklin should be viewed primarily as a shortstop candidate.
“I think that’s fair to say,” McClendon said. “I don’t think he’s in the second base mix.”
McClendon also dismissed the idea of Franklin or incumbent shortstop Brad Miller shifting to the outfield.
“We’ve got a pretty crowded outfield as it is,” McClendon said. “There’s a lot of talent in that outfield as it is.”
All 68 players on the camp roster are expected in uniform for today’s workout. That includes veteran reliever Ramon Ramirez, a non-roster invite, who arrived Monday after resolving visa issues in the Dominican Republic.