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Mariners work out spring kinks in first BP sessions

MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Every Spring Training has a series of progressions as players get themselves back into game shape. For the Mariners, Friday was the first day of live batting practice.

Many hitters use the session to just "track" pitches, standing in the box and watching the movement to regain their timing and practice seeing the ball. But outfielder Stefen Romero has been waiting for weeks to get started again and the 27-year-old whacked the first pitch he saw from lefty Wade Miley up the middle as the Mariners got things started on their Peoria Complex practice fields.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Every Spring Training has a series of progressions as players get themselves back into game shape. For the Mariners, Friday was the first day of live batting practice.

Many hitters use the session to just "track" pitches, standing in the box and watching the movement to regain their timing and practice seeing the ball. But outfielder Stefen Romero has been waiting for weeks to get started again and the 27-year-old whacked the first pitch he saw from lefty Wade Miley up the middle as the Mariners got things started on their Peoria Complex practice fields.

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"Obviously the pitchers aren't going to have their best stuff because they're working on trying to locate," Romero said. "I was just trying to look for something down the middle and if it was there, take a hack. A game situation is a little different, but I was just going up there and if it was a fastball, I was going to put a swing on it."

On an adjacent field, Taijuan Walker went through an entire eight-minute session without any batters even offering at his pitches. But the 23-year-old right-hander said he still learned a lot from his first mound outing of the spring.

"I surprised myself how good I felt out there," Walker said. "The ball was coming out pretty good and everything was working surprisingly well. No one swung, but it was good to have people in the box to get a gauge on things. We'll have another live BP and I'm sure they'll start swinging then."

New manager Scott Servais left it up to the hitters as to whether they wanted to come out hacking, noting the day really was more about getting the hurlers comfortable against somebody in the box.

Tweet from @AlcalaFernando: A little #SlashAndDash from @Boogpowell15. #Ichiroesque #MarinersST pic.twitter.com/j7DHGEOJOL

Servais, a former catcher who hit .245 over 11 Major League seasons, said he wasn't one to sit and wait in his playing days.

"I actually got in there and hit because I wasn't a good hitter and I took all the swings I could get," he said with a laugh. "It was easier for me [as a catcher] because I was into what the pitchers had, so I had a better feel for what was coming. So I tried to make myself look good and hopefully the general manager was walking around back in the day."

Worth noting

• Felix Hernandez, the only Mariners pitcher who hasn't thrown off a mound yet this spring, is scheduled to throw his first bullpen session on Saturday morning. Hernandez is on his usual schedule, which gets him started throwing about a week behind most of the pitchers.

• Right-handed reliever Joaquin Benoit, who was limited by a sore back this week, threw his first bullpen session of camp on Friday and said the 25-pitch outing went well.

"That was my first time out in a long time," said the 38-year-old, who was acquired from the Padres to work as the eighth-inning setup man. "It went better than I expected, because I've had a sore back and I was trying not to turn and pull my pitches. It was good. It wasn't perfect, but I got that one out of the way. We still have a month to get ready for the season."

• Seven Mariners pitchers threw their first live batting practices. In addition to Miley and Walker, hurlers included Steve Cishek, Justin De Fratus, Joel Peralta, Donn Roach and Blake Parker.

• Minor League pitching coordinator Rick Waits was hit in the side of the head by a line drive during batting practice, but was declared OK after being checked out by trainers.

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, Wade Miley