“Ninety percent of this game is half mental … ”
It’s Major League Baseball time, fans, and the Seattle Mariners open the long campaign Friday against the Oakland A’s on the road, then head for Texas after the first three outings, before opening at Safeco Field on April 8 against the Cleveland Indians.
It’s going to be a must to buy a program when you visit Safeco for your first game as the Mariners roster has changed quite a bit, from the new manager to new coaches, to new players, to new broadcasters.
Seattle is trying to bounce back from a disaster of a season in which they lost 101 games, fired a manager, saw future hall-of-fame player Ken Griffey Jr. leave the team in June and could not get a run in from third with a fly ball if their lives depended upon it.
… “The other teams could make trouble for us if they win … ”
The opening outfield likely will be Milton Bradley in left, Michael Saunders in center and Ichiro Suzuki in right.
Look for the extra outfielder to be Ryan Langerhans. Victoria’s Michael Saunders was going to be optioned to Tacoma to work on his new batting stance, but Franklin Gutierrez still is having stomach problems, has missed most of spring training and probably will be put on the 15-day disabled list and that will present problems when he returns.
The infield will have Chone Figgins at third, Brandon Ryan at short, Jack Wilson at second and Justin Smoak at first.
Figgins is back where he started as an Anaheim Angel. Second wasn’t his bag, as it were. Ryan is a top shortstop acquired from St. Louis. Wilson moves to second and we hope he has a better year than last when he was on the disabled list more than he played. Smoak is the key. He came from Texas last year in the Cliff Lee deal, struggled, went to Tacoma to work on hitting, came back in September and now must prove he’s a bona fide major leaguer. He can field, but he must hit — for average — and drive in runs with power.
Now to the backup infielders. Adam Kennedy is a proven infielder, as is Josh Wilson. Matt Tuiasasopo can play first and outfield.
The catcher was to be Miguel Olivo, obtained from Colorado. He injured a groin muscle right off the bat in the spring but may be ready. Adam Moore and Josh Bard are backups. Moore is the catcher of the future, so he must stay.
Pitchers? Here’s my rotation: Felix Hernandez, Erik Bedard, Doug Fister, Jason Vargas and Michael Pineda.
In the bullpen, David Pauley, Luke French, Brandon League, Dan Cortes, Jose Flores, and David Ardsma when he returns from the disabled list.
This is the key for the Mariners’ season. They signed Jack Cust from Oakland. He’s a lefty with power and strikes out a lot. If he can provide some home run punch as well as drive in runs with doubles, it will be a good pickup. Bradley also can be put in this slot.
Go Mariners …
“It ain’t like football, you can’t make up no trick plays … ”
(All of those baseball quotes are from — who else? Yogi Berra.)
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