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.

Mariners close to reuniting with Endy, Gutierrez

Mariners close to reuniting with Endy, Gutierrez

SEATTLE -- Two familiar outfielders, Endy Chavez and Franklin Gutierrez, are close to returning to the Mariners on Minor League deals with invitations to next month's Major League Spring Training.

The Mariners haven't confirmed either signing, but the News Tribune (Tacoma) reported Sunday that Chavez had agreed to a deal. The 36-year-old Venezuelan played the past two years with Seattle, both times originally signing a Minor League contract before being added to the 25-man roster during the 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.

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.

MLB mascots feud over NFL playoffs

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MLB mascots feud over NFL playoffs

For those of you completely engulfed by the baseball world and all the Hot Stove season has to offer, the NFL playoffs are a thing and they're happening this weekend. In the NFC, only the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers remain. As they prepare to duke it out for the right to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLIX, their fans are getting heated in support of their teams.

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Inbox: Any chance of Miller moving from short to outfield?

Beat reporter Greg Johns fields fans' questions

Inbox: Any chance of Miller moving from short to outfield?

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

Is there anything to the rumor of Brad Miller moving to the outfield and where did that come from?
-- Caleb F., Bellingham, 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.

Mariners acquire lefty prospect Kickham from Cubs

Relief candidate also gives club starting depth

Mariners acquire lefty prospect Kickham from Cubs

SEATTLE -- The Mariners have acquired left-hander Mike Kickham from the Cubs for Minor League pitcher Lars Huijer, the club announced Wednesday.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Kickham, left-hander Anthony Fernandez was designated for assignment. Seattle's 40-man roster remains full.

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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.

LoMo crowdsources search for cool cleats

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LoMo crowdsources search for cool cleats

Logan Morrison didn't become an MLB outfielder by being ignorant to his strengths and weaknesses. He's fully aware that he's better at baseball than he is at, say, designing fashion, which is why LoMo is crowdsourcing his attempt to become more fashionable in 2015.

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Mariners' promo lineup packed to the brim

On tap for 2015: bobbleheads, hats, a Cruz bat night, fireworks and more

The Mariners announced their 2015 promotional schedule Wednesday, which includes six bobblehead giveaways, a Nelson Cruz bat night and four postgame fireworks nights.

Seattle will give away bobbleheads of Felix Hernandez (April 18), Fernando Rodney (May 9), Kyle Seager (June 2), Cruz (July 11), Jamie Moyer "Hall of Fame" (Aug. 8) and Robinson Cano (Aug. 22) to the first 20,000 fans on the respective dates.

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

Moyer to join Mariners Hall of Fame this summer

Winningest pitcher in team history will be ninth member enshrined

Moyer to join Mariners Hall of Fame this summer

SEATTLE -- Jamie Moyer, who was a 20-game winner when the Mariners won an American League-record 116 games in 2001, has been selected for induction into the club's Hall of Fame.

Moyer, a left-hander who won 269 games over a 25-year career, was 20-6 with a 3.43 ERA for the Mariners in 2001 when they went 116-46, tying them with the 1906 Cubs for most regular-season wins by a Major League team.

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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.

First-timer Ackley among 5 Mariners to file for arbitration

First-timer Ackley among 5 Mariners to file for arbitration

The Mariners had five players file for salary arbitration on Tuesday: outfielders Dustin Ackley and Austin Jackson, pitchers Charlie Furbush and Tom Wilhelmsen and first baseman Logan Morrison.

Players and clubs will exchange salary numbers on Friday but can continue to negotiate until their scheduled hearing. Hearings will be held between Feb. 1-21.

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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.

Fernando Rodney to visit South Korean LLWS champions

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Fernando Rodney to visit South Korean LLWS champions

Mariners reliever Fernando Rodney is taking the long route from his home in the Dominican Republic to next week's Fanfest in Seattle.

He's going through Seoul, South Korea.

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The Kid's new job: Griffey takes turn photographer

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The Kid's new job: Griffey takes turn photographer

It happens to everyone: At some point in life, it's time to stop being a kid (or The Kid) and pick a profession, even if that point comes after a likely Hall of Fame worthy career in MLB. Which is how we come to Ken Griffey Jr., professional photographer.

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Mariners announce 2015 Minor League staffs

Former infielder Pat Listach is joining the Mariners as their Triple-A manager, the club announced on Tuesday. The Mariners will return six other managers from their farm system on their Minor League staffs for 2015.

Listach, taking over the Tacoma Rainiers, spent the 2014 season as the third-base coach for the Astros. He has over 20 years of experience in professional baseball as a player, Major League and Minor League coach, and Minor League manager and coordinator. Prior to last season, Listach was the Dodgers' Minor League infield coordinator in 2013 and coached on the Major League staffs for the Cubs (2011-12) and Washington Nationals (2009-10). He also has nine years of Minor League coaching experience in the Cubs' system from 2000-08.

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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.