Glory days

  • By Kirby Arnold / Herald Writer
  • Saturday, March 10, 2007 9:00pm
  • Sports

PEORIA, Ariz. – The roster has turned over almost completely since 2001. There have been two new managers in the past four seasons, plus more than a dozen new coaches.

Along with all that, some believe the Seattle Mariners’ link to their glory years had faded away, too.

The past couple of years, a person might never have known the 2001 Mariners won a record-tying 116 games. There was hardly a reminder of the 1995 Refuse to Lose team and Edgar Martinez’s famous double to beat the Yankees, or of the players like Martinez, Ken Griffey Jr., Jay Buhner and Dan Wilson who represented not only the face of the franchise, but the attitude and work ethic necessary to win the four division championships when they were playing.

There’s a different feel at spring training this year.

Martinez, Buhner and Wilson not only have dropped in, they’ve been in uniform and established a presence in the clubhouse, on the practice fields and in the dugout during games. Former second baseman Bret Boone visited the clubhouse on Friday.

Several times when players are preparing for the morning workouts, videos from the past have been shown on the clubhouse TVs – of Buhner’s best moments, Martinez’s beautiful hitting stroke and even the humorous television commercials over the years.

The concrete walls of the long hallway leading to the Mariners clubhouse have been covered with more than two-dozen poster-sized photos. Many feature the current players, but several depict former stars and magic moments in franchise history.

The Mariners’ tradition doesn’t run as deep as the Yankees’ or Cardinals’, but it’s definitely not being ignored at spring training this year.

“It’s been very special having Edgar and Danny and Bone here,” said John McLaren, who returns this year as manager Mike Hargrove’s bench coach after coaching under Lou Piniella from 1993-2002. “The players have gotten a lot out of it. Edgar gave a talk to the players that you couldn’t have scripted any better. He was so elegant.

“Tradition can speak volumes. The Yankees, those guys have monuments. Well, we’ve got a few monuments ourselves. People in Seattle have been very privileged to see some of the great players over the years.”

McLaren has talked with players, most of them youngsters with little or no knowledge of the franchise’s history, about the Mariners’ playoff teams.

“We want to write a script for 2007,” McLaren said. “We want to be talking in 2007 like it was in ‘95. That’s what our mindset should be. We have good players in place and I think our time is now.”

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