PEORIA, Ariz. — After two days of rain, the sun is shining at the Mariners’ complex. The team will get out on the field for its first full squad workout.
“I’m excited to see the guys get out on the field and run around,” manager Scott Servais said. “I think the upper fields will be ok, so we’ll get some work in there and hit on the field. Pitchers will continue to get their bullpens in. But our position player group is ready to get going. We’ll start putting in our packages, our bunt plays, the defensive situational stuff. Take one a day and continue to knock that out here as we get closer to our first game. Everybody is ready to go.”
Some of the team installations like bunt coverages, rundowns and other things can seem pretty mundane. But they are necessary. Servais is trying to adjust the teaching aspects to get results.
“You’re always tweaking things, different ways to go about it,” he said. “But we try to keep it pretty simple. That way the guys know what to expect. It’s not so much the games you actually go out and win, it’s the ones you don’t lose, if that makes sense. Giving it away, making an error, throwing to the wrong base. Those are the things that hurt you more when you look back on a season where a game here or game there. We will spend a ton of time with our baserunning this spring. You’ll see a focus on that. I know we are probably fast than we were last year, but the middle of our lineup is still the same and they’re on base a lot. So we want to tighten up the baserunning. We want to get better there.”
The Mariners have about five days before the first Cactus League game on Feb. 25 against the Padres at Peoria Stadium.
“We have a lot of games and we’re stretched out a little,” Servais said. “We’ll continue to do the fundamental things once the games get going. We have a new shortstop and a couple outfielders, making sure they understand what we’re doing may be a little different than what they came from. The bunting and stuff doesn’t happen a lot in Spring Training games, but you’ve got to be prepared. And we will. We’ll be fine.”
Cishek to start throwing
Steve Cishek will start playing catch out to 60 feet on Tuesday. It will be the first time he’s thrown since reporting to spring training.
“It’s a big day for me,” he said.
Cishek has spent the first week of spring training continuing the rehab on his surgically repaired left hip. He had offseason surgery to fix a torn labrum and also had microfracture surgery to help the process.
“It’s something I’ve never dealt with,” he said. “Some days it feels really good and others it doesn’t.”
One thing that has helped in the recovery been soft tissue massage work and other aspects after he does his strengthening exercises. The Mariners had hoped that Cishek would be ready to go by late April. But it will be contingent on how the hip reacts to early baseball activity. The main test will be when Cishek puts pressure on the hip and leg in his delivery coming off the mound.
No ETA for Martin
The Mariners are still hoping that Leonys Martin will arrive later in the week. He’s been excused from the first few days of full squad workouts to take care of some “personal issues” per Servais.
The absence likely stems from the current trial of sports agent Bart Hernandez and trainer Julio Estrada, who are under federal indictment on charges of illegally smuggling players in the United States, including Martin, Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu. Hechevarria testified on Monday in Miami federal court, while sources indicated that Martin is supposed to testify sometime on Tuesday. His testimony could possibly carry into Wednesday. It’s why Servais doesn’t have an exact date for Martin’s arrival.
Of course, his teammates aren’t above teasing him while he’s absent. Small posters with the headline “MISSING” above Martin’s player mugshot have cropped up around the clubhouse. There are even vivid descriptions of Martin for the poster on the bottom, mocking his haircut and mentioning “a voice that sounds like Cuban on helium.” The also poked fun at his strikeouts, saying he “has been known to chase fastball, curveballs, changeups or any pitch.” His last known accomplices per the poster were “Nori Aoki, Dae-Ho Lee and Seth Smith.”
Servais confirmed that Jamie Moyer and Ken Griffey Jr. will make appearances at spring training again this season as special “instructors.” He also hopes Jay Buhner makes an appearance as well.
“I think Junior will be in for a few days,” he said. “I don’t’ have that information yet. I would hope Bone would come down. I love having him around. They are welcome. I’m not in charge of that. I think it’s more the people upstairs and putting schedules together — people who have deeper and longer relationships with those guys. But I love having them in. It’s great. I hope they are excited about what we’ve done. they all want us to get back to the playoffs again. It brings back some of the guys that were instrumental the last time they were in the playoffs.”
It was picture day at the Mariners’ complex. All of the players put on full uniforms and take mugshot photos and an assortment of other posed shots for the team photographer and photographers from various news outlets, including the Times. Who can ever forget this gem?