Inbox: What cap will adorn Johnson's Hall plaque?
Reporter Greg Johns answers Mariners fans' questions
Do you think there's any chance Randy Johnson will go into the Hall of Fame as a Mariner, or will he wear the Diamondbacks' cap?
Larry W., Snohomish, Wash.
That decision lies with the Hall of Fame itself, which changed its rules in 2001 to take control of what team's logo will be on each inductee's hat. The Hall consults with the player, but retains final say in the matter. Given that, I don't see any way Johnson goes in wearing a Mariners hat. He'll either be in a D-backs hat or a hat with no logo, which is an option the Hall chose last year for Greg Maddux and Tony La Russa.
Though Johnson played 10 seasons and won more games in Seattle than during his eight seasons in Arizona, it's impossible to ignore that four of his five Cy Young Awards and half of his 10 All-Star berths came with the D-backs. Not to mention the 2001 World Series title, in which he shared co-MVP honors, as well as his lone perfect game in '04. While his tenure in Seattle included half of his All-Star bids, his first Cy Young and the franchise's first no-hitter, no one can say that overshadows what Johnson accomplished in Arizona. So at best, I think it's a split-decision and no logo.
None of which changes the fact that when Johnson is enshrined in July, it will be a special day for Seattle. The Big Unit was one of the Mariners' first real stars and played a huge role in the franchise's history. Rickey Henderson, Rich Gossage and Gaylord Perry are Hall of Famers who once wore Mariners jerseys, but none played more than 92 games for Seattle and all were in the tail end of their careers. Johnson made his original and indelible mark in Seattle and will forever be associated with the Mariners as well as the D-backs, no matter what logo is on his cap in Cooperstown.
Why don't the Mariners believe that James Jones can be an everyday starter in right field?
Corey L., Dacula, Ga.
Jones hit .283 in the first three months last season as a rookie, then .182 from July on after pitchers began learning how to attack him. That's an adjustment every young player has to make. It's not that they don't think he can ever make that adjustment and be an everyday starter at some point, they just didn't want to open this season with no other choice.
Injuries, slumps and other factors can change a situation in a hurry and I have no doubt Jones will come to camp ready to compete. His outstanding speed -- 27 stolen bases in 28 attempts -- makes him a valuable option on the bench as well, so he's certainly in the mix, even after the trades for Seth Smith and Justin Ruggiano.
I'm not sold on J.A. Happ. Why is he being considered the third starter? Roenis Elias had a better year last season, and he's not even guaranteed a spot in the rotation?
Lucas B., Portland, Ore.
Manager Lloyd McClendon says the Mariners didn't trade for Happ to make him a reliever, and he expects him to be one of his starters. He and general manager Jack Zduriencik believe Happ is the kind of fly-ball pitcher who should fare well in Safeco Field after pitching in hitter-friendly Philadelphia, Houston and Toronto his first eight years.
It's too early to pencil Happ in specifically as the No. 3 starter, but the plan is definitely for him to be one of three veterans in the rotation -- along with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma -- while youngsters James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, Erasmo Ramirez and Elias compete for the other two spots. But remember, a lot can happen in Spring Training -- as Elias showed last year when he came from nowhere to earn a starting job.
It seems like the Mariners could use one more Major League-ready outfielder to stash in Triple-A Tacoma for contingencies. Any ideas on who they might be able to get, if anybody?
Keith H., Federal Way, Wash.
Old friend Endy Chavez hasn't signed with anyone yet and just hit .313 in 26 games in the Venezuelan Winter League, so he's always a possibility to return for a third straight year on a Minor League deal as an insurance policy. Franklin Gutierrez has been talked about in the same situation, though it remains to be seen if he's healthy and ready after playing 10 games in Venezuela and hitting .222 with two homers and five doubles. There are always a few veterans who don't fit on anyone's 40-man roster but are looking for a shot and willing to take a non-roster invitation to camp, so we'll see who gets added in the next six weeks.
What tips would you give for fans who are thinking of coming down to Arizona for Spring Training?
Lindsay Z., Seattle
While it's great to take in some Cactus League games, make sure to also go to a few morning practice sessions at the Mariners' Peoria Sports Complex. That's a great way to see the players up close and in more relaxed settings and get some autographs at the end of the workout. They usually practice from about 9-11 a.m. and then you can catch a game at 1 p.m. But my biggest advice is just to go for it if you can. Warm weather and baseball in March … what's not to like?
How many Spring Training games will be broadcast on TV and radio this year?
Richard R., Port Angeles, Wash.
The Mariners won't release their spring broadcast schedule until early February, but I'm hearing there will be a lot more televised games this year. We'll keep you posted on that when it gets finalized.