SEATTLE -- Kendall Graveman was hitting 94-96 mph with his fastball on Wednesday, feeling good and thrilled to be back out on the mound with his Mariners teammates as he prepares for his return to Major League Baseball after two seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Graveman -- a former two-time Opening Day starter for the A’s -- continued building up for a rotation role as Seattle’s likely No. 3 starter when the season opens in nine days. But the 29-year-old acknowledged one thing was missing from his first intrasquad outing at T-Mobile Park, and that something was the fans in the stands.
“The fans make this game,” Graveman said. “I really believe that. We have some of the best fans in any sport. Some loyal fans who enjoy just the basic simplicity of baseball, but also some fans who enjoy the intricate details of the game. Our fans are going to tune in online, and thank goodness we have technology to stream and be able to watch. But the thing I’ll miss the most is signing autographs and being interactional with fans and talking to fans.
“I like to tell people we’re human beings like anybody else,” he said. “To me, that interaction with a fan on a daily basis, giving a ball to a 10-year-old kid at his first game or whatever it may be, kids are going to remember that. That’s the thing I’ll miss the most. And the electricity the fans bring. So it’ll be different.
“But on the flip side, I think it’s very beneficial for fans just to be able to watch a game and for us to move forward and continue to play and work hard. I think they’re going to respect us for trying and getting out there and playing, even if there are no fans.”
Graveman threw three innings in his intrasquad debut, allowing two hits and a run while striking out five.