• Thursday, February 26, 2004 9:00pm
  • Sports

A daily look at the Mariners during spring training.

  • The Mariners sent their pitchers to the mound to throw batting practice for the first full-squad workout, and the hitters were understandably reluctant to swing.

    How tentative?

    It took three pitchers and 79 pitches before someone swung a bat, Willie Bloomquist on the fourth pitch he saw from Aaron Looper.

    Julio Mateo threw 43 pitches and Matt Thornton 32 to the first rotation of hitters that included Bret Boone, Dan Wilson, Ichiro Suzuki, Rich Aurilia, Edgar Martinez and Scott Spiezio.

    Ben Davis, who caught Mateo and Thornton before being relieved, walked out of the cage and said, “Good swinging, fellas.”

    After the workout, manager Bob Melvin described the hitting display.

    “They had some great takes,” he said.

    Melvin had predicted such an inactive approach to batting practice long before it began.

    “The veteran guys you’ll see taking pitches; the younger guys you’ll see breaking bats,” Melvin said early Thursday morning.

    That’s just how it unfolded, with the veteran hitters on Field 1 leaving the bat on their shoulders before Bloomquist broke the silence with a bloop to center field off Looper.

    On Field 2, the scene was completely different – just as Melvin had said – with young hitters such as Chris Snelling, Justin Leone, Shin-Soo Choo, Luis Ugueto and Greg Dobbs swinging from their heels from the get-go.

  • Most of the pitchers who didn’t throw batting practice Thursday will get their turn today.

  • Eddie Guardado, who will replace Kazuhiro Sasaki as the Mariners’ closer, has a sore left knee.

    “That’s something he’s had before,” Melvin said. “We may have to back off some PFP (pitchers fielding practice) but I don’t foresee him missing a bullpen. It could happen because we’re going to be very careful with him.”

    Outfielder Chris Snelling cut short his batting practice because of a sore left wrist. He will be re-examined today.

  • The forecast for a cloudy day didn’t materialize and the Mariners worked out under a cloudless sky. Clouds are expected to return today, although rain is expected to hold off until after practice, with a high temperature in the low 60s.

  • “Swinging is fine. Recognizing is better.”

    Hitting coach Paul Molitor on why hitters tend to take more pitches than they swing at during the first day of batting practice at spring training.

  • Ichiro Suzuki was practicing bunts when Mariners trainer Rick Griffin walked up.

    The pitching machine was about to shoot a baseball when Griffin, standing about 20 feet from Suzuki, put his heels together to form a “V” with his feet and said, “Five bucks, Ichiro.”

    Suzuki bunted the ball perfectly into the “V,” and Griffin soon was to become $5 poorer.

    Kirby Arnold, Herald writer

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