PEORIA, Ariz. – Bob Melvin said it was just another game – his new team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, vs. his old team, the Seattle Mariners – although Bryan Price wasn’t buying it.
“I remember when he was with us, he really wanted to beat Brenley,” said Price, the Mariners’ pitching coach.
In Melvin’s two years as the Mariners’ manager, he took special delight in the spring training games against Arizona, where he was the bench coach under manager Bob Brenley.
Melvin, fired last Oct. 4 by the Mariners, is managing the Diamondbacks now, and Saturday was his first opportunity to see his old team.
“I was excited about today to come and see these guys,” Melvin said. “It’s another spring training game, really and truly. You don’t alter your schedule, what you’re doing with your guys, because of a game like this.”
Melvin said he feels comfortable with Arizona, where he spent several years as a coach before the Mariners hired him before the 2003 season.
“A lot of the personnel aren’t here, as far as players,” he said. “But I’ve known some of these guys from the minor league system, all the support staff guys, the front office, the clubhouse. All of those people, I know.
“It makes for a more comfortable situation coming in, but it’s not like I didn’t get comfortable in Seattle, too. I really enjoyed my time there. I’m grateful for the opportunity I had.”
Melvin said his Seattle experience taught him some things – he wouldn’t be specific – about managing that he is applying to his new job.
“You learn things in any job,” he said. “I’m not going to go into some of the things that I’m applying here now that I didn’t before, but certainly with any job, you don’t know what you don’t know when you’re going in. I hadn’t been a manager before. There were a lot of things I didn’t know.
“One thing I thought about, once you get fired, all of a sudden you’re an experienced manager and you have some experience when you go interview. That’s the one thing that I didn’t have before.”
Welcome-back gift: Price, staying true to his promise not to embarrass Melvin in front of his new team, avoided any cruel pranks for his close friend.
“I gave him a couple of Cal shirts and some candy,” Price said. He and Melvin attended the University of California.
“Bob always had lots of candy around, and I think we put on 15 pounds over the course of a season,” Price said.
Health update: Closer Eddie Guardado said his right hamstring felt fine Saturday, one day after he threw in the bullpen for the first time since being injured. Guardado is scheduled to throw in the bullpen again today, then pitch a simulated game early this week.
“I’m fine,” he said. “I can’t complain.”
Bugged: The Mariners sent pitcher Ryan Franklin home Saturday because he had the flu, an illness that he was battling Friday when he pitched five scoreless innings against the Giants.
“Maybe he needs to bottle it and keep it,” said manager Mike Hargrove, who has seen numerous players perform well while they were sick. “You feel so rotten that you know the only chance you’ve got is to concentrate really good. It’s amazing how you can perform whenever things are tough.”
Dobbs still a factor: Hargrove said Greg Dobbs remains in contention for a bench spot, and the fact that he’s a left-handed hitter works in his favor. The Mariners could use a left-handed hitter off the bench.
“Dobbs obviously has some pop in his bat and that makes him attractive,” Hargrove said. “A lot of times it depends on who in your lineup you’ll pinch-hit for. There are not a lot of guys we’ll pinch-hit for. Maybe one or two, and both of them are right-handed hitters, so a left-handed bat makes more sense.”
Of note: Hargrove said he’s still waiting for a left-handed relief specialist – the candidates are Matt Thornton, George Sherrill and Nate Bland – to emerge in the final two weeks of camp, although he isn’t worried about the situation. “We’ve got an idea and we think we’re going to be OK,” Hargrove said. “We just have to keep looking at these guys and decide which are the best options.” … With pitchers working deeper into games and available innings becoming more scarce, the Mariners sent three – Felix Hernandez, J.J. Putz and Shigetoshi Hasegawa – to the minor-league camp Saturday to pitch in a game there. … Hargrove said the Mariners probably will make another round of roster cuts next week.