Felix focused on improving fastball command

Mariners' ace says he feels strong after first spring start

Felix focused on improving fastball command

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Mariners know Felix Hernandez isn't the same guy who hammered mid-90 mph heat earlier in his career, but they feel he needs to re-establish his fastball command and use it aggressively in order to set up his outstanding repertoire of pitches.

And the 30-year-old ace embraced that philosophy in his first Cactus League outing Tuesday, focusing more on his fastball than usual in a two-inning start in which he gave up a run on three hits in Seattle's 8-1 win over the White Sox at Camelback Ranch.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners rap 14 hits in Felix's spring debut

Mariners rap 14 hits in Felix's spring debut

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Although Mariners veteran Felix Hernandez and White Sox prospect Michael Kopech drew much of the attention in Tuesday's Cactus League game at Camelback Ranch, it was rookie outfielder Mitch Haniger and Seattle's offense that did the damage in an 8-1 victory.

Haniger's three-run homer in the first off the hard-throwing Kopech highlighted a 14-hit day for the Mariners, who improved to 3-1 this spring. Haniger went 2-for-3 with three RBIs.

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

MLB.com Columnist

Joe Posnanski

All business: Felix eyes return to form

Mariners' ace aims to move past down season in major way

All business: Felix eyes return to form

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Right away, you see it: Felix Hernandez is different. He has put on 17 pounds of muscle, but that's not quite it. Hernandez has cut his hair and doesn't play around with different hair dyes like usual. But that's not it either. He doesn't wear his socks up for the moment, he smiles a little less, and he pitches with force in February, something he hasn't done in years. But none of those things individually quite gets at what's different about Hernandez.

Instead, all of those things, combined, paint a picture: Hernandez isn't fooling around. Not this year. Not when the world begins to doubt him. That's what's different.

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MLB.com columnist Joe Posnanski is a No. 1 New York Times best-selling author, an Emmy Award-winning writer and has been awarded National Sportswriter of the Year. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Heredia's bat shows no signs of cooling

Heredia's bat shows no signs of cooling

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Cuban outfielder Guillermo Heredia is making the Mariners sit up and take notice in the early going this spring, and he continued swinging a hot bat in Tuesday's 8-1 win over the White Sox.

The 26-year-old, who spent most of last season in Triple-A in his first year in the U.S., tripled and scored on an error in the second inning and finished 2-for-3 with a pair of runs. He's 5-for-9 with three doubles, a triple, four runs and four RBIs in four games this spring.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Venditte's approach as unusual as his specialty

Mariners switch-pitcher tailors mechanics for each arm

Venditte's approach as unusual as his specialty

PEORIA, Ariz. -- In his head, there are two Pat Vendittes.

When the Mariners reliever -- the lone switch-pitcher in the Majors -- takes the mound and peers out from behind his custom six-finger glove, each at-bat is an adventure.

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Fabian Ardaya is a senior majoring in journalism at Arizona State University. This story is part of a Cactus League partnership between MLB.com and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Zych's recovery takes promising step forward

Zych's recovery takes promising step forward

PEORIA, Ariz. -- A year ago at this time, Tony Zych was primed to be a key member of the Mariners' bullpen as a hard-throwing rookie who flashed considerable promise in the final month of the 2015 season.

But after an injury-plagued 2016, Zych is just now working his way back from bicep tendon transfer surgery in his right shoulder in October, and he took a promising step on Tuesday morning when he threw off a bullpen mound for the first time since the operation.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Segura displays power stroke against Royals

Segura displays power stroke against Royals

PEORIA, Ariz. -- An early start time didn't slow the Royals, as catcher Salvador Perez led an offensive onslaught against several of the Mariners' new pitching acquisitions in a 14-3 runaway on Monday at Peoria Stadium that was called after seven innings.

With rain in the afternoon forecast, the contest was moved up one hour, but that didn't help Mariners pitchers as the Royals ripped three homers and scored 11 runs in the first three innings.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

O'Neill adds musical skills to baseball talent

O'Neill adds musical skills to baseball talent

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Tyler O'Neill looks like a weight lifter, for good reason, having grown up pumping iron as the son of former Mr. Canada, Terry O'Neill, in Burnaby, British Columbia.

But it turns out that the Mariners' muscle-bound outfielder has another skill that he unveiled during a team meeting on Sunday. The 21-year-old O'Neill knocked out a quality rendition of the theme song from Lord of the Rings on a keyboard in the clubhouse, with reliever Thyago Vieira from Brazil beat-boxing alongside.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gallardo isn't sweating over rough first outing

Mariners starter felt good, but struggles with command vs. KC

Gallardo isn't sweating over rough first outing

PEORIA, Ariz. -- It surely wasn't the first impression Yovani Gallardo wanted to make with his new team, but the veteran right-hander said his arm felt fine and chalked up a rough outing in Monday's 14-3 rain-shortened loss to the Royals to first-game command issues as the Mariners took their first Cactus League defeat.

Gallardo allowed four runs on three hits, two walks, a hit batter and a wild pitch as he was limited to just one inning of work after running up 35 pitches in the opening frame.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cruz goes deep again as Mariners roll

Cruz goes deep again as Mariners roll

PEORIA, Ariz. -- A big blast by Nelson Cruz and some serious control issues by Padres pitchers added up to the Mariners' second-straight Cactus League romp on Sunday as Seattle strolled to a 13-2 victory at Peoria Stadium.

Cruz homered in his first at-bat for a second straight game, knocking a full-count offering from Zach Lee over the fence in left field leading off the second. The big slugger has the most homers in the Majors over the past three seasons and is off to a hot start this spring, adding a bases-loaded walk in the third for his fifth RBI in two games.

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AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Control-the-zone philosophy working wonders

Seattle hitters took 14 walks in win over Padres

Control-the-zone philosophy working wonders

PEORIA, Ariz. -- They might have a little trouble keeping up this pace, but the Mariners' control-the-zone philosophy has been in full force in Seattle's two Cactus League-opening wins, as their pitchers have yet to issue a walk while the hitters have drawn 19 free passes from the Padres.

That combination added up to a pair of wins by a 26-5 margin, including Sunday's 13-2 victory in which the Mariners drew 14 walks.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Heredia finding footing with Mariners

Defensive-minded OF looking to shine with bat

Heredia finding footing with Mariners

PEORIA -- The Mariners have seen the defensive ability, the strong arm and the speed of Guillermo Heredia. But in looking for a right-handed-hitting outfield candidate, the bat figured to be the biggest question coming into this spring.

So, yeah, it didn't hurt Heredia's cause to come out swinging in the first Cactus League game, ripping a pair of doubles to go with three RBIs in a three-hit day off the bench in Seattle's 13-3 win over the Padres on Saturday.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cruz flexes muscles in win over Padres

Cruz flexes muscles in win over Padres

PEORIA -- The Peoria Sports Complex unveiled a shiny new HD scoreboard beyond the left-center field wall on Saturday. Nelson Cruz nearly hit it with his first swing of Spring Training.

The Seattle slugger launched a three-run first-inning blast off Paul Clemens, and the Mariners opened Cactus League play with a 13-3 victory over San Diego on Saturday.

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AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Efficient outing by Miranda impresses Mariners

Efficient outing by Miranda impresses Mariners

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Cuban pitcher Ariel Miranda relies on an interpreter in his interviews with reporters, but the 28-year-old didn't need to wait for the translation when asked Saturday if he was the manager, would he pencil himself in as a starter or reliever.

"Starter," Miranda said with a smile, before the query could be put to Spanish.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cano, Cruz hit the ground running in victory

Cano, Cruz hit the ground running in victory

PEORIA, Ariz. -- It may only have been the first game of Cactus League play, but Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz clearly came ready to play this spring.

And that's good news both for the Mariners and the Dominican Republic's World Baseball Classic squad.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Versatile Motter wants to matter to Mariners

Versatile Motter wants to matter to Mariners

PEORIA, Ariz. -- It's easy to spot Taylor Motter on the Mariners practice field, his long locks flowing out from the cap as he moves easily among his teammates. What isn't easy is figuring out exactly where he's lining up, since the 27-year-old Florida native plays virtually anywhere on the field.

Motter, acquired from the Rays in November, has played every position in his pro career, except catcher. And even there, he has donned the gear and done his part.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Classic participation an honor for Mariners

11 players from organization will represent their country in tournament

Classic participation an honor for Mariners

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Inside the Seattle Mariners' clubhouse, participating in the World Baseball Classic isn't a decision.

"It's an honor," pitcher Felix Hernandez said.

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @richardjustice. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dyson, Segura get green light on basepaths

Servais wants to see new duo show off speed this spring

Dyson, Segura get green light on basepaths

PEORIA, Ariz. -- A Mariners team that ranked 12th in the American League in stolen bases a year ago will be off and running from the start this spring, if things go the way manager Scott Servais envisions.

General manager Jerry Dipoto added speedsters Jarrod Dyson and Jean Segura in the offseason, and both will be encouraged to test their legs early and often, along with other Mariners as Cactus League play opens Saturday.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Team Cano rallies past Cruz in hitting game

Fun contest signals last day before Cactus League action

Team Cano rallies past Cruz in hitting game

PEORIA, Ariz. -- It ended in controversy, with "coach" Nelson Cruz arguing valiantly that his team got robbed in its situational hitting contest Friday against a team captained by Robinson Cano. But for the Mariners, this was the perfect windup to their first week of camp as they prepare for Saturday's Cactus League opener.

Manager Scott Servais eschewed the traditional intrasquad scrimmage as a final warmup for a second straight year. He split the position players in half and let them battle it out for fun in an informal game where points were tallied based on the ability to advance runners in different situations and taken away when the opposite occurred.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Breaking down the Mariners' Top 30 list

Overhauled system features trade acquisitions, improved contact rates

Breaking down the Mariners' Top 30 list

Hired as Mariners general manager in September 2015, Jerry Dipoto has since shaken up the team's big league roster and farm system by making 36 trades, far and away more than any other GM during that stretch. It yielded immediate and promising results for the franchise in 2016, when the Mariners battled for an American League Wild Card spot for much of the season en route to an 86-76 overall record and a second-place finish in the AL West.

The Mariners' system as a whole also took a considerable step forward thanks to an organization-wide emphasis on controlling the strike zone and improving contact rates under the guidance of new farm director Andy McKay. All six of Seattle's Minor League affiliates reached the postseason in their respective leagues, with Double-A Jackson and the club's Rookie Arizona League affiliate winning titles.

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

Mariners get what they wish for on Glove Day

Pitcher Whalen eager to get hands on custom Wilson gloves

Mariners get what they wish for on Glove Day

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Starting pitcher Rob Whalen was all smiles as he watched Shigeaki Aso pound his brand new, custom fielder's glove at the Mariners' Spring Training camp Thursday.

Aso is the "glove guru" for Wilson baseball gloves. He works with players like Whalen, infielders Robinson Cano and Mike Freeman, outfielder Nelson Cruz, former first-round Draft pick D.J. Peterson, catcher Carlos Ruiz, utility man Shawn O'Malley, and pitchers Dan Altavilla and Yovani Gallardo to custom design gloves for them.

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Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cishek says rehab on right track

Cishek says rehab on right track

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Steve Cishek had his second day of playing catch on flat ground Thursday, and everything continued to go well as he recovers from last October's microfracture left hip surgery.

"I'm playing catch every other day," Cishek said. "I expect to throw again in another two days and keep building up my hip strength."

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Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pazos ready for new beginning with Mariners

Young reliever traded from Yankees vies for spot in bullpen

Pazos ready for new beginning with Mariners

PEORIA, Ariz. -- James Pazos described the news of his November trade from the Yankees to the Mariners as "bittersweet." The "bitter" comes from leaving the team that drafted him and nurtured him through the Minors for five years until he made his big league debut last season.

The "sweet" is a result of feeling like he's coming home to the Mariners, starting his first Cactus League season near his childhood home in Arizona and sizing up the heightened opportunity of a bullpen eager for the raw talent the 25-year-old left-hander has shown.

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Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Heston carving out revival in Seattle

Heston carving out revival in Seattle

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Two years ago, Chris Heston was a promising right-hander, who won 12 games for the Giants, including a no-hitter in an outstanding rookie season.

Now the 28-year-old from Florida finds himself trying to carve out a new niche for himself with the Mariners, one of a handful of starters acquired by general manager Jerry Dipoto during the offseason to add rotation depth to the organization.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Martin arrives at camp ready to play

Martin arrives at camp ready to play

PEORIA, Ariz. - Center fielder Leonys Martin finally arrived at Mariners camp Wednesday with the usual smile on his face, ready to focus on baseball again after a delayed start to his Spring Training.

Martin was called to testify on Tuesday in a federal trial in Miami for his former agent Bartolo Hernandez and trainer Julio Estrada, who are accused of conspiracy and running a smuggling operation that brought a dozen Cuban players to America.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

AL-inclusive: Everyone has eyes on West title

AL-inclusive: Everyone has eyes on West title

PHOENIX -- Jerry Dipoto knows that the Astros are favored to win the American League West, and if baseball analysts aren't talking about Jose Altuve's budding powerhouse, they're focused on the Rangers. Why not? They've won the AL West two years in a row.

Dipoto hides his confidence with a sheepish grin.

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