Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Buzz around Mariners camp on first full day

MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Spring Training can be a long haul for players who go through the same drills and workouts for six straight weeks. But the first day? Yep, there's always a little buzz on the initial day of full-squad workouts, and that feeling was accentuated at Mariners camp on Thursday by the sheer volume of change underway.

"There's excitement at the beginning of Spring Training every year," said veteran outfielder Seth Smith, "but you have new staff, new management, new players, and you kind of don't know what to expect. So you're anxious to get here and see what it's all about."

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Spring Training can be a long haul for players who go through the same drills and workouts for six straight weeks. But the first day? Yep, there's always a little buzz on the initial day of full-squad workouts, and that feeling was accentuated at Mariners camp on Thursday by the sheer volume of change underway.

"There's excitement at the beginning of Spring Training every year," said veteran outfielder Seth Smith, "but you have new staff, new management, new players, and you kind of don't know what to expect. So you're anxious to get here and see what it's all about."

New manager Scott Servais met with his team for an hour in an introductory morning meeting and then put the players through nearly three hours of work under 80-degree temperatures. With 13 of the 23 position players being new to the organization this year -- in addition to 16 of 28 pitchers and three of the six catchers in camp -- there was definitely a first-day-of-school atmosphere for the latest arrivals.

• Spring: Tickets | Ballpark | 40-man roster | NRIs

"That's what it feels like," said six-time All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano. "You have to go around and introduce yourself to a lot of guys; guys you played against but never said hi to before. It's good to have them on our team."

New left fielder Nori Aoki was shadowed by several dozen Japanese journalists in his first Mariners workout. First baseman Adam Lind showed plenty of power in his initial batting-practice session. And returnees Cano, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager and Franklin Gutierrez displayed the professional approach you'd expect when hitting in the first group.

The biggest difference at this camp seems to be the open approach Servais is pushing for in meetings, both with the full team and smaller position groups, encouraging players to express themselves and let teammates get to know them while sharing ideas about baseball as well as other topics.

"It's about a comfort level," Servais said. "Guys opening up. Communication level. The ability of our coaches to connect with our players. I think the meetings that we've had have really helped. I hoped they would. Players are expressing opinions and throwing ideas out, things they've done in the past. Things they like. Things they don't like. They have to be comfortable to do that. And I think we have a pretty comfortable environment right now."

Smith, a nine-year Major League veteran who has played with four different clubs, said players just want to know what's expected from the guys running the team.

Video: Hernandez, Servais discuss offseason, Opening Day

"It's too early to tell," he said of first impressions, "but some things are going to be different and some are the same. Really, he said they'd communicate, and that's all we want. Tell us what you expect from us, and hopefully we can do it."

Worth noting

• When the Mariners took the field for their first round of infield drills, they had Lind and Jesus Montero working at first base, Cano at second, Ketel Marte and Chris Taylor splitting time at short and Seager at third.

• Left-hander James Paxton was among eight pitchers who threw their second bullpen sessions of spring on Thursday, with pitchers now switching to live batting practice starting Friday.

Also throwing were Vidal Nuno, Mike Montgomery, Cody Martin, Tony Zych, Charlie Furbush, Casey Coleman and Evan Scribner.

• Veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit initially was slated to be in the same throwing group, but he was limited again to just fielding drills and conditioning as he works through a sore lower back. Benoit and Felix Hernandez remain the only pitchers who've yet to throw off the mound, with both likely to start that program this weekend.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast.

 

Seattle Mariners