Seattle's two sluggers plan on playing early and often in the next week to prep themselves for their defending WBC champion team, which opens play on March 9 in Miami. And early results were positive, with Cano walking in his first at-bat and scoring on Cruz's three-run homer in the first as the Mariners jumped on the Padres for a 13-3 win Saturday in the Cactus League opener at Peoria Stadium.
"He's always ready," Cano said, shaking his head toward Cruz in the Mariners clubhouse. "That guy can rake."
Cruz wound up going 1-for-2 in four innings of work at designated hitter, while Cano was 0-for-1 with a walk and run scored at second base.
"I feel good," Cano said. "That's when I know I'm good, when I take walks. This is a year we have to be ready earlier."
Cano's walk and Cruz's mammoth three-run homer off Padres right-hander Paul Clemens came after new shortstop Jean Segura roped a line-drive double to left field in his first at-bat. For a Mariners team looking to add to its potent middle of the order, the sight of Segura getting on base ahead of the pack was welcomed as well.
"That's the ideal," Cruz said with a smile. "Hopefully we can do that every game."
In most springs, players like Cano and Cruz play every other day in the early going and slowly build themselves up toward regular action over the five-week Cactus League slate. But they'll start again in Sunday's rematch with the Padres, likely going two out of every three games until they join their Dominican team.
Cano says he'd like to get 15-20 at-bats before he departs and Cruz said the feeling already is "like it's late in Spring Training."
Manager Scott Servais is happy to comply with his sluggers' desire to get in playing shape as quickly as possible.
"Those two guys are really geared up to get into it a little quicker than normal," said. "I think Nellie is probably a little farther ahead than he was last year. Robbie looked great last year when he came in and he looks good again."