Hicks knows Seahawks' Wilson is a winner

Mariners catcher grew up and played baseball with star quarterback

Hicks knows Seahawks' Wilson is a winner

SEATTLE -- In the National Football League, Russell Wilson is the little guy doing huge things as quarterback of the Seahawks. But Mariners catcher John Hicks remembers Wilson in a different way.

To Hicks, Wilson was the big guy on their youth baseball team when they were 13 and 14 years old growing up in Richmond, Va. And he stands just as big in Hicks' eyes now, even as a 5-foot-11 quarterback.

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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.

Baker finalizes Minor League deal with Mariners

Veteran catcher gets invite to Spring Training, provides depth at position

Baker finalizes Minor League deal with Mariners

SEATTLE -- The Mariners signed veteran catcher John Baker to a Minor League deal with an invitation to next month's Major League camp Thursday, giving Seattle some needed experience and depth at the backstop position.

Baker, 34, is a seven-year Major League veteran who'll compete for the backup job behind starter Mike Zunino when pitchers and catchers report Feb. 20 in Peoria, Ariz.

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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.

Which prospects will make the Top 100 cut?

Buxton looking to defend No. 1 slot with 2015 rankings set to be unveiled

Which prospects will make the Top 100 cut?

After an offseason filled with transactions and intrigue, Spring Training is fast approaching. That means it's time for the unveiling of the latest MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list.

The annual preseason ranking of the Top 100 prospects in baseball will be revealed Friday, with the Top 50 being unveiled during a one-hour special on MLB Network and MLB.com beginning at 9 p.m. ET, and the entire list on MLB.com. The show, hosted by Greg Amsinger, will feature analysis from MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis, as well as MLB Network analyst Bill Ripken.

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Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Jackson No. 5 on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 OF Prospects list

Twins' Buxton leads list again, followed by Pederson (Dodgers), Soler (Cubs), Winker (Reds)

Jackson No. 5 on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 OF Prospects list

MLBPipeline.com's 2015 Top 100 Prospects list will be unveiled on Friday, Jan. 30, on MLB.com, with the Top 50 revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLBPipeline.com takes a look at baseball's Top 10 prospects at each position.

The top 10 outfielders list annually has some of the most athletic and exciting prospects in the Minor Leagues, and this year is no different. Though half of the players on last year's preseason list lost their rookie eligibility in 2014, the other half returns, led by last year's No. 1 overall prospect, Byron Buxton.

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Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: Should Peterson play first base exclusively?

Beat reporter Greg Johns fields Mariners fans' questions

Inbox: Should Peterson play first base exclusively?

Here's the latest in our Reader Inbox series. You can click here to submit a question of your own.

Why are the Mariners letting D.J. Peterson play third base when they already have Kyle Seager there? Why not have him just play first?
Brandon H., Tacoma, Wash.

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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.

Wilhelmsen will move his way into any role for Mariners

Versatile reliever is a 'long shot' to earn spot in deep rotation

Wilhelmsen will move his way into any role for Mariners

SEATTLE -- Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen proved his versatility -- and personality -- once again at last weekend's FanFest with several impromptu singing and dancing performances atop the Mariners' dugout at Safeco Field. But the looming question for Wilhelmsen now figures to be where exactly he fits into Seattle's pitching plans when the games begin this spring.

Wilhelmsen is a unique talent, and not just in terms of his entertainment value for fans and fellow relievers. After getting out of baseball and working as a bartender from 2004-08, the lanky right-hander became one of the game's better human-interest stories by landing a bullpen job with the Mariners in 2011 and saving 53 games as Seattle's closer from '12-13.

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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.

Legion of Boom welcomes Nelson Cruz to Seattle

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Legion of Boom welcomes Nelson Cruz to Seattle

As we approach Super Bowl XLIX, we remember the moments when a few members of the Patriots and Seahawks osmosed through the cross-sports membrane and found themselves in the world of MLB. Today: when the Legion of Boom welcomed Nelson Cruz into their ranks.

Shortly after the Mariners signed Nelson Cruz in December, he was welcomed into the ranks of the Seahawks' Legion of Boom. But that doesn't mean that just anyone can hang out with Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. Just take a look at Cruz's application. 

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Peterson among top third-base prospects

Bryant, Gallo, Sano bring plenty of power to the hot corner

Peterson among top third-base prospects

MLBPipeline.com's 2015 Top 100 Prospects list will be unveiled on Friday, Jan. 30, on MLB.com, with the Top 50 revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLBPipeline.com takes a look at baseball's Top 10 prospects at each position.

If chicks dig the long ball, then there's no doubt third base is the sexiest position among prospects. It's home to the three best power prospects in the game in Kris Bryant (Cubs) and Joey Gallo (Rangers) -- the last two Minor League home run champions -- and Miguel Sano (Twins). It will be interesting to see how many of these guys remain at the hot corner in the long term, because position changes have been hinted at for at least eight of them, and only Jake Lamb (D-backs) projects as a quality defender.

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In Minors, Russell Wilson tackled tornadoes

Rome Braves GM Dunn saw qualities in quarterback during tragedy

In Minors, Russell Wilson tackled tornadoes

ATLANTA -- As a frightening string of destructive tornadoes ripped through the Southeast on April 27, 2011, Mike Dunn took precautionary measures to protect his Class A Rome Braves players and the visiting Asheville Tourists club that included a young second baseman named Russell Wilson.

Wilson's baseball career was nearing its end, but his leadership abilities were on full display as he helped take control of a potentially dangerous situation.

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

Rodney's arrow flies all the way to South Korea

Mariners closer visits country on goodwill tour, meets with LLWS champs

Rodney's arrow flies all the way to South Korea

SEATTLE -- For Fernando Rodney, the arrow has gone international.

When the Mariners closer peers skyward as he pulls back his imaginary bow following every save, he pictures the arrow sailing far into the distance. But even Rodney seems surprised that his trademark move has become familiar to young fans in South Korea, where he visited last week on a personal goodwill tour that included one stop in a private school for deaf children.

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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.

Endy, Gutierrez rejoin Mariners

Veteran outfielders sign Minor League contracts

Endy, Gutierrez rejoin Mariners

SEATTLE -- Looking to add some outfield depth to their organization, the Mariners officially signed veterans Franklin Gutierrez and Endy Chavez to Minor League contracts on Monday and extended invitations to next month's Major League camp.

Neither addition was a surprise as Gutierrez and Chavez both have long histories with Seattle. They also agreed to Minor League deals that don't require opening a spot on the 40-man roster unless they make the Major League squad at some point.

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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 sense excitement for 2015 at FanFest

Mariners sense excitement for 2015 at FanFest

SEATTLE -- Unseasonably warm winter weather and a building excitement over a club expected to challenge for an American League playoff berth in 2015 led to record-setting attendance at the weekend's 35th annual Mariners FanFest at Safeco Field.

A crowd of 13,384 came through the gates on Sunday, enjoying a sunny, 60-degree afternoon and pushing the two-day total to 25,290. The total attendance broke last year's mark of 21,019. Saturday's attendance of 11,906 set a single-day record that was then broken by Sunday's gathering.

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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.

Cruz highlights first day of Mariners FanFest

Slugging outfielder starting to feel at home in Safeco confines

Cruz highlights first day of Mariners FanFest

SEATTLE -- Nelson Cruz insists he's still a kid at heart, so the new Mariners slugger fit right in during his first public appearance with his new club on Saturday at Safeco Field.

With thousands of youngsters running around the field and soaking up the Mariners FanFest with their families, Cruz stood out as the headline attraction for an event that drew a record 11,906 opening-day fans, breaking last year's first-day mark of 10,903.

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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.

Seahawks' Legion of Boom pays tribute to King Felix

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Seahawks' Legion of Boom pays tribute to King Felix

In 2011, Felix Hernandez raised the 12th Man flag at CenturyLink Field. To return the favor and pay their respects to King Felix, the heart of the Seahawks defense attended a Mariners game against the Rangers in 2013. Did a bit of Hernandez's winning ways rub off?

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Mariners unveil new alternate uniforms

Mariners unveil new alternate uniforms

SEATTLE -- The Mariners unveiled a fresh look with some old-school trimmings on Friday, as new slugger Nelson Cruz and pitchers James Paxton, Taijuan Walker and Charlie Furbush served as models introducing the club's new alternate uniforms.

The alternate jerseys will be worn on Sunday home games only. The Mariners already have their regular home whites and road gray uniforms, along with an alternate "Northwest Green" jersey that is worn strictly for Friday games.

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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.

Fernando Rodney's secret to success: Naps

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Fernando Rodney's secret to success: Naps

Multiple studies have shown that naps increase productivity with NASA pilots showing improved performance and alertness following a few winks. Count Mariners closer Fernando Rodney in the camp of the converted. 

Coming off a 2014 season in which he lead the league with 48 saves and posted his third consecutive above-average ERA+, the 37-year-old hurler admitted that after coming to the park and getting ready, he'll "sometimes take a nap."

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Mariners feel pieces are in place to have successful season

GM Zduriencik, manager McClendon emphasize preparation, execution, focus

Mariners feel pieces are in place to have successful season

SEATTLE -- With the Mariners sitting less than a month from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, expectations continue to climb as the club is being mentioned in many quarters as a strong contender in the American League West.

But general manager Jack Zduriencik and manager Lloyd McClendon know none of the winter talk means a thing once games begin, and their focus is on getting the Mariners ready to raise the bar once the regular season opens April 6.

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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 bullpen will sing its way into your heart

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Mariners bullpen will sing its way into your heart

Chemistry is an important element for any team, so it makes sense that someone at Saturday's Mariners FanFest wanted to know how well the bullpen could harmonize. It's perhaps less intuitive that she meant it literally. Apparently pitching coach Rick Waits and reliever Tom Wilhelmsen like to sing "Build Me Up Buttercup" together and she wanted to be sure that fellow pitcher Charlie Furbush could keep up.

He sang along, but Wilhemsen was the real star. 

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Montero given another chance to make Mariners' roster

Former top hitting prospect following program, has dropped 40 pounds

Montero given another chance to make Mariners' roster

SEATTLE -- Jesus Montero might not have a definite spot in the Mariners' plans at the moment, but the former top hitting prospect still has a place in the organization and an opportunity to compete for a job starting this spring.

General manager Jack Zduriencik and manager Lloyd McClendon both expressed optimism about Montero's offseason workouts at Thursday's Mariners pre-Spring Training luncheon. The 25-year-old has dropped about 40 pounds from last year and is at the requested reporting weight of 235 that he far overshot last spring at the start of a disappointing season.

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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.

Happ unfazed by expectations for him, Mariners in '15

Veteran left-hander excited to join contender

Happ unfazed by expectations for him, Mariners in '15

SEATTLE -- J.A. Happ's velocity went up last year. So did the expectations for the Seattle Mariners.

So now that the Mariners have traded for the veteran left-hander to fill out their rotation, Happ finds himself in a new situation for a team on the rise. The Mariners won 87 games last year, were in the playoff race until the last game of the season, picked up the 2014 Major League home run leader, Nelson Cruz, in the offseason, and as a result are being picked by pundits to have a real shot at winning the American League West.

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

Wash. native O'Malley among Mariners' NRIs to camp

Gutierrez could get Minors deal; Bloomquist progressing from knee surgery

Wash. native O'Malley among Mariners' NRIs to camp

SEATTLE -- Shawn O'Malley, a 27-year-old utility infielder who played 11 games for the Angels last season, signed a Minor League deal with the Mariners on Thursday with an invitation to Major League camp.

O'Malley graduated from Southridge High in Kennewick, Wash., in 2006 and was a fifth-round Draft pick of the Rays. He reached the Majors for the first time last season with the Angels, where he got 16 at-bats as a September callup. He hit .330 in 89 games for Triple-A Salt Lake City.

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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

Mariners poised to emerge as AL West power

After taking major leap in 2014, club eyes division title behind new additions

Mariners poised to emerge as AL West power

On his first day of Spring Training last February in Peoria, Ariz., Felix Hernandez was all aglow. The Mariners' ace gushed over the arrival of superstar Robinson Cano and another free-agent import, Fernando Rodney.

"All we need is a little patience -- and passion," Hernandez said. "Cano's one of the best players in the game. He's going to help a lot. And for the ninth inning we got a guy who's closed for a long time. Fernando has experience -- and no fear.

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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.

Safeco first MLB park to illuminate field with LED lights

New system will reduce glare, shadows and improve atmosphere for players, fans

Safeco first MLB park to illuminate field with LED lights

SEATTLE -- While expectations are already high for 2015, the Mariners plan to literally cast a new light on their upcoming season as the club announced Tuesday that Safeco Field will be the first Major League stadium to illuminate its playing field with LED lights.

LED (light emitting diode) uses multiple narrow beams of light to produce a brighter and more uniform illumination than the former metal halide fixtures. Installation of the new lighting system was completed this month at Safeco and will be unveiled to the public at the team's 17th annual FanFest on Saturday and Sunday.

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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.

Inbox: Does Montero have a shot at Opening Day roster?

Beat reporter Greg Johns fields fans' questions

Inbox: Does Montero have a shot at Opening Day roster?

With one month now until Mariners pitchers and catchers report, here's the latest in our Inbox series. You can click here to submit a question of your own.

Can you construct a scenario where Jesus Montero breaks camp on the Mariners' 25-man roster?
-- Keith P., Tacoma, Wash.

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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.

Cano plays final game in Dominican playoffs

Mariners second baseman has shown no signs of problems with broken pinkie toe

Cano plays final game in Dominican playoffs

SEATTLE -- Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano has been a big hit for his hometown Estrellas De Oriente club in the Dominican Republic Winter League playoffs for the past week, where he finished up his offseason stint on Monday night, according to reports from Dominican media.

Cano received permission from the Mariners to play a limited number of games in the Dominican as he returns from a broken right pinkie toe, and he showed no signs of any problems while hitting .500 (9-for-18) with a triple, two doubles, five RBIs and three runs scored in five outings.

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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 agree with five arbitration-eligible players

Ackley, Ruggiano, Jackson, Furbush and Morrison sign before deadline

Mariners agree with five arbitration-eligible players

The Mariners avoided arbitration hearings with five of six eligible players, agreeing to terms with outfielders Dustin Ackley, Justin Ruggiano and Austin Jackson, pitcher Charlie Furbush and first baseman Logan Morrison.

Pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen remains the only Mariners arbitration-eligible player who is unsigned.

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T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

With starting gig locked up, who backs up LoMo?

Mariners searching for depth at first base after offseason departures

With starting gig locked up, who backs up LoMo?

SEATTLE -- A year ago, the Mariners arrived at Spring Training with a pretty wide-open first base competition, as newcomers Corey Hart and Logan Morrison were expected to challenge incumbent Justin Smoak for playing time.

Things have changed in 2015, however. A month from the start of camp, only Morrison returns from that group. And in fact, Morrison is the only player on Seattle's 40-man roster with any real first-base experience at the Major League level.

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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.