The Mariners’ pitchers and catchers are on the practice fields at the lower end of the complex, having stretched and loosened up their arms before breaking into groups for fielding practice.
Not sure I detected a certain “look in their eyes” after the morning meeting, although there does seem
to be a serious approach to the first few minutes of drills. Put it this way, a year ago before the first workout Mark Lowe accidentally kicked Shawn Kelley in the face, opening a cut that required stitches, during an idle moment of play. None of that going on so far.
A few observations:
• It’s interesting to see nearly a dozen of the early reporting position players also stretching with the pitchers and catchers. I can’t remember ever seeing outfielders and infielders in the pitcher-catcher stretching mix. But there they were in their own line — Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, Ryan Langerhans, Mike Wilson, Jack Wilson, Johermyn Chavez, Sean Kazmar, Matt Mangini, Michael Saunders and Alex Liddi.
• Everyone has reported except right-handed pitcher Yusmeiro Petit, a non-roster invitee who’s still in Venezuela because of visa issues.
• Pitching coach Carl Willis prefaced his pre-PFP (pitchers fielding practice) instructions to the guys by saying he understands there may be some confusion early and that some guys may wind up on the wrong field for drills. Then he made it simple for a certain group: “If you’re left-handed, you’re going to go to Field 4 for PFP.”
• Reliefer Shawn Kelley, who had elbow surgery late last season, threw some flat-ground pitches (more than a lob but less than full effort) to trainer Rob Nodine. The Mariners expect Kelley to be ready to pitch by June.
• Reporters learn quickly that when the players fan out to play catch, it’s wise not to stand directly behind them. These are major leaguers and they’re pretty accurate, but not always. And because they’re major leaguers, it can hurt to get plunked even when a guy is just loosening up. So I stayed clear.
• Speaking of getting plunked, there’s one pitcher I already would never want to hit me even when he’s warming up — non-roster right-hander Denny Bautista. The guy has an easy-going throwing motion, but there’s some serious sizzle when the ball leaves his hand, even when he’s just playing catch.