Mariners' offense shows potential for breakout season

Cruz, Cano anchor new 'culture' at plate

Mariners' offense shows potential for breakout season

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Nelson Cruz is new to the Mariners, but the club is learning quickly about the big slugger. Turns out its new designated hitter takes requests, at least from teammate Felix Hernandez.

"Felix asked me for a homer," Cruz said after launching a two-run blast in Thursday's 9-4 victory over the Padres, his first game with the Mariners. "I was like, 'Normally I don't hit homers in the spring, but I will try today.'"

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Montero goes all in to prove himself at first base

Former top prospect sheds catcher's mitt, 45 pounds in effort to make club

Montero goes all in to prove himself at first base

PEORIA, Ariz. -- There's nothing easy about losing 45 pounds over five months of intense training or dealing with doubters who think your career is over before it really got started. But Jesus Montero could just now be hitting the hardest part of his recommitment to baseball, knowing he has to keep that dedication over the long haul while waiting for a chance on a team that has no obvious opening on its Major League roster.

Montero was one of the interesting stories when Mariners camp opened two weeks ago, drawing attention for his dramatic new look and improved approach. But the fact remains there's more work to be done in order to become a viable first-base candidate and contender for a 25-man roster spot.

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Cruz homers, Cano gets off to hot start as lineup shows off strength

Seattle starter Elias throws two scoreless frames in spring debut

Cruz homers, Cano gets off to hot start as lineup shows off strength

PEORIA, Ariz. -- New designated hitter Nelson Cruz homered in his first game for the Mariners and Robinson Cano got off to a hot start as well as Seattle defeated the Padres 9-4 on Thursday in a matchup for the second straight day at Peoria Stadium.

Alexi Amarista, who is pegged to be San Diego's starting shortstop, had three hits. His third hit preceded teammate Will Venable's two-run home run in the fifth inning. For Venable it was career home run No. 16 in Cactus League play.

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a href="mailto:greg.johns@mlb.com">Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Olmos returns to Mariners after Rangers' waiver claim voided

Texas questions health of pitcher's shoulder in requesting reversal

Olmos returns to Mariners after Rangers' waiver claim voided

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The on-again, off-again saga of Edgar Olmos with the Mariners continued Thursday as the left-handed pitcher was returned to Seattle's 40-man roster after Major League Baseball voided a Rangers waiver claim on him following a dispute over the health of his shoulder.

The Rangers claimed Olmos off waivers on Feb. 24, but then asked to have that reversed based on their belief that he has an impingement in his throwing shoulder.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Choi to undergo surgery, will be out 4-6 months

'Unfortunate play' leads to fractured right fibula for Mariners first-base prospect

Choi to undergo surgery, will be out 4-6 months

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners first-base prospect Ji-Man Choi will undergo surgery on Thursday to repair a broken right leg after injuring himself leaping for a high throw in Wednesday's Cactus League opener against the Padres.

Choi will likely be sidelined four to six months, according to manager Lloyd McClendon, after fracturing his fibula, which is the long thin bone in the lower leg.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners prospect Choi sustains broken fibula

Mariners prospect Choi sustains broken fibula

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners first-base prospect Ji-Man Choi broke the fibula bone in his right leg on Wednesday after landing awkwardly trying to haul in an errant throw in the ninth inning of Seattle's 4-3 victory over the Padres in the Cactus League opener.

Choi, a 23-year-old from South Korea, was carted off the field after going down in a heap at the first-base bag following his leaping attempt to pull in a high toss from shortstop Tyler Smith.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Walker sizzles in Cactus victory over Padres

Right-hander fires two scoreless frames in bid for fifth rotation spot

Walker sizzles in Cactus victory over Padres

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Right-hander Taijuan Walker looked strong in his spring debut with two scoreless innings for the Mariners, while Justin Upton opened his Padres career with a home run in Wednesday's Cactus League opener at a renovated Peoria Stadium.

Seattle prevailed, 4-3, in 10 innings on a walk-off single by Patrick Kivlehan as Tyler Marlette scored when the ball got past Padres right fielder Rymer Liriano.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Peterson powers up in Mariners' spring opener

Peterson powers up in Mariners' spring opener

PEORIA, Ariz. -- As the Mariners' first-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, there are a lot of eyes on D.J. Peterson as he goes through his first Major League camp this spring.

And the young third-base prospect didn't disappoint when he launched a home run on his initial at-bat in the first inning of Seattle's 4-3 win in 10 innings over the Padres on Wednesday in the Cactus League opener.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Mariners' Walker poised to turn potential into production

Mariners' Walker poised to turn potential into production

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon's message to Taijuan Walker was brief. "We don't expect him to pitch like he's 21 or 22," McClendon said.

Walker, who turned 22 in August, heard the manager loud and clear.

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Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Felix excited to be part of new-look Mariners

Ace takes another step toward 2015 season with first live BP session

Felix excited to be part of new-look Mariners

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Felix Hernandez remains the face of the Mariners, as evidenced by a large camera crew from Major League Baseball that followed his every move on Wednesday shooting video for an upcoming 30-second promotional spot.

But Seattle's ace isn't all on his own any more as the club has beefed up its roster with some noticeable veteran presence.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Seager teams up with friend to help fight cancer

Mariners third baseman will raise funds through pledges

Seager teams up with friend to help fight cancer

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Racking up hits has always been important to Kyle Seager, but that role will help another goal this season as the Mariners All-Star third baseman has hooked up with former North Carolina teammate Chase Jones on a charity to help fight children's cancer.

Jones was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer when he was a freshman in college. Now seven years later, Jones is pushing to help others with his Vs. Cancer Foundation -- and he landed a key contributor in Seager.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hultzen feels good after throwing first live BP

Mariners taking things slowly with former first-round Draft pick

Hultzen feels good after throwing first live BP

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Danny Hultzen took another step on the long road back from shoulder surgery Tuesday as the Mariners' 2011 first-round Draft pick threw his first live batting practice of the spring and pronounced everything good.

The Mariners are looking at this season as a build-up year for Hultzen, focused on getting him ready to compete for a Major League role in 2016 after missing nearly two full seasons with significant shoulder issues. But the 25-year-old appears strong and healthy as he progresses through the early spring work.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ackley working in spring for fast start in April

Outfielder will get extra at-bats in Cactus League action, hoping to get into groove

Ackley working in spring for fast start in April

PEORIA, Ariz. -- After slow starts the past two seasons by Dustin Ackley, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon plans to give the left fielder extra at-bats this spring with the hope he can hit the ground running when the season opens in April.

And while many veterans like to pace themselves early and gradually build for the long haul, the 27-year-old Ackley says he's fine with whatever work comes his way as he prepares for his fifth season in the Majors.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rain wipes out Mariners' only scheduled intrasquad game

Paxton, Iwakuma limited because of weather, but still throw

Rain wipes out Mariners' only scheduled intrasquad game

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Rainy weather played a little havoc with the Mariners' plans for Monday, wiping out their only scheduled intrasquad game and putting a slight hiccup in some of the pitching plans. Manager Lloyd McClendon said he wasn't concerned about Mother Nature's interference.

Left-hander James Paxton had to limit his throwing distance on his first day back from a bruised forearm that sidelined him the first 10 days of camp and Hisashi Iwakuma was limited to another bullpen session instead of his first live batting practice of the spring.

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Weeks likely to be part of corner-outfield platoon

Manager McClendon will let matchups dictate personnel; Paxton throws off flat ground

Weeks likely to be part of corner-outfield platoon

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Lloyd McClendon has never liked the word "platoon," but the Mariners' skipper acknowledged Monday that he'll likely be using that sort of split-time situation in both left and right field this season if things go as planned.

McClendon said his left-field situation will likely see Rickie Weeks starting against left-handed pitchers and Dustin Ackley against right-handers. Similarly, the right-field at-bats figure to fall primarily to right-handed-hitting Justin Ruggiano or Nelson Cruz against left-handed starters, and Seth Smith against righties.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rule 5 pick Rollins aims to nail down lefty role in 'pen

Southpaw brings experience as starter in Minors

Rule 5 pick Rollins aims to nail down lefty role in 'pen

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Clearly, the Mariners have wanted to see David Rollins in a Seattle uniform for a long time. They drafted him twice, after all, in 2009 and '10, before he elected to return to school both times.

This past December at the Rule 5 Draft, Seattle got their man. The 25-year-old Rollins is now in camp in Peoria, competing for a job as the second lefty in the bullpen -- the spot once held by the departed Joe Beimel.

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AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ramirez, Pries among arms to take mound in intrasquad game

Mariners to get look at several pitchers battling for roster spots

Ramirez, Pries among arms to take mound in intrasquad game

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Erasmo Ramirez and Jordan Pries will start Monday's intrasquad game for the Mariners -- though with rain in the forecast, the game is weather permitting.

Ramirez is one of three main contenders for Seattle's vacant No. 5 starter spot, along with Taijuan Walker and Roenis Elias. Pries, meanwhile, is a 25-year-old left-hander who posted a 4.06 ERA in 25 appearances for Triple-A Tacoma last season.

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AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McClendon: Jackson key to 'jumpstart' Mariners offense

Seattle to give center fielder more rest in 2015

McClendon: Jackson key to 'jumpstart' Mariners offense

PEORIA, Ariz. -- In Lloyd McClendon's eyes, Austin Jackson represents the spark the Mariners' offense needs this year. And to make sure his catalyst performs at a high level throughout the season, the Seattle skipper plans to give Jackson a few extra days off this summer.

McClendon told reporters he expects Jackson's total number of games played to decrease this year -- an effort to keep the 28-year-old center fielder fresh. Last season, Jackson hit .191 in September -- with a significant decline in his slugging percentage during the second half of the season.

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AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Montero appears primed for breakout season in 2015

Young talents like Montero, Moustakas, Myers ready to take next step

Montero appears primed for breakout season in 2015

While we salivate at the release of the Top 100 prospect list, the fact is that very few players become superstars. Most slip into careers as relievers, journeymen and Quad-A sluggers.

But a few still manage to surprise you when most have stopped paying attention. After struggling to a .244/.328/.405 mark through 2010, Alex Gordon has become one of the most valuable players in the Majors, with the third baseman-turned-outfielder posting the third-highest Wins Above Replacement among American League position players in 2014.

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Michael Clair is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @clairbearattack. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners prospects keep Sanchez in thoughts

Young right-hander remains in coma after being hit by water craft

Mariners prospects keep Sanchez in thoughts

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Even while some of the younger Mariners prospects are enjoying the experience of their first Major League camp this spring, they can't help but stop at times and ponder the gravity of the situation facing teammate Victor Sanchez.

The 20-year-old right-hander remains in a coma in a hospital in Caracas, Venezuela, two weeks after being hit in the head by a water craft while swimming off the shore of the eastern coastal city of Carupano in his home country.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Smith brings quiet approach to first Mariners camp

Veteran outfielder looks forward to getting to know new teammates

Smith brings quiet approach to first Mariners camp

PEORIA, Ariz. -- While much of the early focus of Mariners camp has centered around the arrival of new cleanup hitter Nelson Cruz and late addition of veteran Rickie Weeks, Seth Smith has quietly gone about his business of getting ready for his ninth Major League season in relative anonymity.

But Smith, 32, figures as one of Seattle's significant offensive upgrades as a potential No. 2 hitter in the lineup and a proven and productive left-handed bat.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners cut workout short due to inclement weather

Mariners cut workout short due to inclement weather

PEORIA, Ariz. -- With some wet weather rolling into the Phoenix area on Saturday, the Mariners cut their planned workout short by about an hour and focused mostly on infield work and conditioning.

Though rain didn't fall in the 90 minutes while the Mariners were on the field, heavy precipitation in the early morning led to some wet fields and manager Lloyd McClendon chose to keep things safe.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners focused on having a healthy Iwakuma in 2015

Right-hander throwing bullpens while most of pitchers throwing live BP

Mariners focused on having a healthy Iwakuma in 2015

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Having a healthy Hisashi Iwakuma in camp from Day One figures to be a significant difference for the Mariners this spring, but that doesn't mean they're in a hurry to push the veteran before the calendar even reaches March.

While most of Seattle's hurlers are now firing live batting practice to hitters, Iwakuma instead threw his third bullpen session of the spring on Friday. But manager Lloyd McClendon said there are no health concerns with the right-hander who missed all of Spring Training and the first month of 2014 with a torn finger tendon.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Littlewood takes it all in after late call to big league camp

Catcher gets chance to be in same clubhouse with Mariners' All-Stars

Littlewood takes it all in after late call to big league camp

PEORIA, Ariz. -- If you're looking for the happiest guy in Mariners camp this spring, the early leader in the clubhouse would be Marcus Littlewood. For the simple reason that, well, he's actually in the Mariners' clubhouse.

Littlewood was sitting home in Provo, Utah, two days before the Mariners big league camp was scheduled to open when his phone rang and his caller ID showed Chris Gwynn, Seattle's Minor League director.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Felix opens road toward Opening Day start

Mariners have mapped out ace's Spring Training path for April 6 at Safeco Field

Felix opens road toward Opening Day start

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Felix Hernandez made his spring debut for the Mariners on Thursday, throwing his first bullpen session as the progression begins toward his club-record eighth Opening Day start.

Hernandez punctuated his 30-pitch outing with a full 360-degree leap after his final toss, looking like a man who was happy to be back on the mound again after a long winter.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gutierrez eager to play again with Mariners

After battling illness, veteran outfielder is thankful for spring invitation

Gutierrez eager to play again with Mariners

PEORIA, Ariz. -- For Franklin Gutierrez, the goal this spring is simple. After sitting out last season, the former Gold Glove center fielder just wants to see if there's still a chance to play the game he loves.

Nothing has come easy for Gutierrez in recent years, though an injury-plagued career in Seattle finally began to make more sense when he was diagnosed with an inflammatory nerve condition called ankylosing spondylitis that attacks the flexibility in the spine and lower back.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Lyle Spencer

Jackson an X-factor for motivated Mariners

Center fielder's glove work, speed add dimension to playoff-hungry squad

Jackson an X-factor for motivated Mariners

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The stars have aligned in Seattle, where Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager welcome Nelson Cruz to the troupe. With the national media focused on a big four the Mariners will stack up against any in the game, the key to the whole operation could be Austin Jackson, the center fielder Seattle acquired from Detroit last July 31.

Jackson struggled offensively in his new environment, but he's proven goods: an exciting leadoff catalyst who steals runs with his glove.

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Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cruz, Weeks make noise on first day of Mariners camp

Cruz, Weeks make noise on first day of Mariners camp

PEORIA, Ariz. -- A Mariners team looking to add some right-handed punch trotted out two new veterans to fill that gap Wednesday, as Nelson Cruz and Rickie Weeks took the field for the first time with their new club.

At Seattle's first full-squad workout, it was hard to ignore the thump-thump in batting practice of Cruz and Weeks. The powerful presence of Cruz -- last year's Major League home run leader -- was evident as he blistered line drive after line drive into the outfield gaps and over the fence at the Peoria Complex practice field.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.