Mariners Spring Training quick hits

Mariners Spring Training quick hits

2005 record
69-93, fourth place, AL West

Projected batting order
1. RF Ichiro Suzuki:
  .303 BA, 15 HR, 68 RBI in 2005
2. C Kenji Johjima:
  .309 BA, 24 HR, 57 RBI (Japan) in 2005
3. LF Raul Ibanez:
  .280 BA, 20 HR, 89 RBI in 2005
4. 1B Richie Sexson:
  .263 BA, 39 HR, 121 RBI in 2005
5. DH Carl Everett:
  .251 BA, 23 HR, 87 RBI (with White Sox) in 2005
6. 3B Adrian Beltre:
  .255 BA, 19 HR, 87 RBI in 2005
7. CF Jeremy Reed:
  .254 BA, 3 HR, 45 RBI in 2005
8. 2B Jose Lopez:
  .247 BA, 2 HR, 25 RBI in 2005
9. SS Yuniesky Betancourt:
  .256 BA, 1 HR, 15 RBI in 2005

Projected rotation
1. Jamie Moyer, 13-7, 4.28 ERA in 2005
2. Joel Pineiro, 7-11, 5.62 in 2005
3. Jarrod Washburn, 8-8, 3.20 (with Angels) in 2005
4. Gil Meche, 10-8, 5.09 in 2005
5. Felix Hernandez, 4-4, 2.67 in 2005

Projected bullpen
Closer: Eddie Guardado, 36 saves, 2.72 ERA in 2005
RH setup man: Rafael Soriano, 2.45 ERA in 2005
LH setup man: George Sherrill, 5.21 ERA in 2005

The new guys
Washburn, LHP: Signed a four-year, $37.5 million deal to solidify the starting pitching. Washburn is an experienced, gritty left-hander who has battled minor injuries over the last three years but brings an improving package of well-located fastballs and offspeed stuff to the rotation. He was an integral part of the Angels' 2002 World Series championship team and loves pitching in Safeco Field.

Johjima, C: After a seven-player musical chairs game behind the plate, the Mariners got serious and brought in this free-agent Japanese star to anchor the battery and provide some pop. Johjima has been dazzling scouts for years with his live bat and athleticism behind the plate. We'll see if it transfers to the Major Leagues. POLL
Who should get the Opening Day start?
Jamie Moyer
Joel Pineiro
Jarrod Washburn
Gil Meche
Felix Hernandez

Everett, OF/DH: Once considered a big-time question mark in the clubhouse, Mariners manager Mike Hargrove campaigned to sign the free agent outfielder to give the locker room a spark. Everett still has some life in his bat, as his 2005 stats prove, and the White Sox didn't seem to mind his occasional outspoken behavior, winning the World Series with him on the club. The main question will be if he can stay healthy for a whole season.

Matt Lawton, OF/DH: Lawton was signed to a low-risk, one-year free-agent deal to give the team some depth in the corner outfield positions and possibly some pop in the lineup from time to time.

Marcos Carvajal, RHP: This young, live-armed right-hander was nabbed in the Yorvit Torrealba trade with Colorado. He's still raw but has a lot of ability and spent quality time in the Majors last year.

Prospects to watch
Jesse Foppert, RHP: One-time major San Francisco prospect who came over in last year's Randy Winn trade is healthy after arm problems and could be an intriguing starting pitching contender if he has a big Spring Training.

Adam Jones, CF: Converted shortstop tore up Double-A last year while getting more and more comfortable in the outfield in the Arizona Fall League. The Mariners have high hopes for Jones, who will probably start in Double-A again.

Jeff Clement, C: He's regarded as the future of the Mariners behind the plate, and although signing Johjima to a three-year deal might look like a sign that Clement's got a lot of work ahead of him, he's only 21. Expect him to reach Double- or Triple-A by the end of the 2006 season.

Returning from injury
Soriano: Last year was his recovery year from Tommy John surgery, and the once-dominant setup man has everyone in the organization excited that his power arm has regained all of its strength. He projects right back into the main right-handed setup role behind closer Guardado.

Johjima: A broken leg and a shoulder problem limited Johjima to 116 games in Japan last year, but GM Bill Bavasi said both injuries are non-issues and the catcher will be ready for Spring Training.

Chris Snelling, OF: Snelling has been the poster child for tough-luck injuries, but he's recovering well from his torn ACL and is in Arizona rehabbing. Spring Training isn't realistic, but the normal timeline for his injury says a return by the All-Star break wouldn't be a stretch.

On the rebound
Beltre: Last year's numbers weren't horrible, but fans expecting a repeat of his staggering 2004 season (.334 average, 48 homers, 121 RBIs for the Dodgers) were disappointed, and so was Beltre. New hitting coach Jeff Pentland insists the big-time ability is still there and that only minor adjustments are needed. The Mariners are hoping the 2005 letdown was a case of a new team, a new league and the pressures that go along with it.

Pineiro: Pineiro missed a good portion of Spring Training last year because of shoulder issues and ended up losing a lot of velocity, which he built back up steadily throughout the season. The team is still looking for a lot more consistency from the right-hander, who had some decent efforts down the stretch that proved his low- to mid-90s fastball had returned.

Reed: After a bang-up September 2004, Reed was expected to contend for Rookie of the Year, but he never looked comfortable at the plate. As a result, he has been working with Pentland in the offseason to regain his confidence in the batter's box. He will likely start the season toward the bottom of the lineup, another move to take some pressure off him.

Ichiro: It's hard to say this guy's "on the rebound," but he did hit 69 points lower (.303) in 2005 than he had in 2004 (.372), so maybe he needed a year to recharge his battery after breaking the Major League single-season record for hits.

Long gone
Ryan Franklin, RHP: Franklin, the erstwhile starter/reliever, lost 15 games last year, made headlines for his steroid suspension, and then was non-tendered and picked up by the Philadelphia Phillies.

Jeff Nelson, RHP: Veteran right-hander with the big slider wasn't used much late in the season by the Mariners, then signed a one-year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals.

spring training 2006
News and features:
• Seattle team doctor discusses Reed:  350K
• Meche on his first outing:  350K
• Lawton discusses spring camp:  350K
• Washburn talks about spring outing:  350K
• Sexson on rigors of Spring Training:  350K
Spring Training info: coverage  |  Schedule  |  Ballpark  |  Tickets

Shigetoshi Hasegawa, RHP: "Shiggy" wasn't used much last year as the Mariners took a look at younger relievers, and he wasn't satisfied with offers he got over the winter, so he called it quits, ending an effective, classy career.

Dan Wilson, C: Longtime Mariners catcher and heart-and-soul type retired after tearing up his knee last year, but made it back for one inning late in the year, providing Safeco with an unforgettable moment in an otherwise dreary season. He'll remain close to the organization and Seattle community, for which he's done outstanding charitable work for over a decade.

Dave Hansen, 1B/DH/PH: Veteran gamer was practically pulled out of retirement last year but wasn't pursued once the season was over.

Yorvit Torrealba, C: Showed some promise behind the plate, but when the Mariners signed Johjima, they shipped Torrealba to Colorado to give him a chance to become a starting catcher.

Bobby Madritsch, LHP: Courageous lefty tore shoulder ligaments in his first start of the year last April, then tore his labrum late in the year while rehabbing. The Kansas City Royals snapped him up off the waiver wire.

Pokey Reese, SS: Pokey, we hardly knew ye. Reese injured his shoulder in the spring and didn't play in a single game for Seattle. The Florida Marlins signed him this winter.

2005 hitting leaders (min. 200 at-bats)
Avg.: Ichiro, .303
OBP: Sexson, .369
SLG: Sexson, .541
Runs: Ichiro, 111
RBIs: Sexson, 121
Hits: Ichiro, 206
2B: Beltre and Sexson, 36
3B: Ichiro, 12
HR: Sexson, 39
SB: Ichiro, 33
2005 pitching leaders (min. 30 IP)
IP: Moyer, 200
W: Moyer, 13
L: Ryan Franklin, 15
Win %: Moyer, 13-7, .650
S: Guardado, 36
ERA: Hernandez, 2.67
K: Pineiro, 107
K/9: Hernandez, 8.22
WHIP: Hernandez, 1.00

Triple play: Three questions that need answers

1. What happened with Beltre last year after his huge 2004 season? Can he bounce back?
Bavasi knew Beltre while with the Dodgers organization and says Beltre's difficult first year in Seattle, more than anything, can be chalked up to the fact that Beltre had been with the Dodgers since he was 15 years old and therefore wasn't ready for such a huge life change. Add that to the fact that he was learning AL pitchers and maybe feeling like he and Sexson needed to carry the offense, and you have a case of a guy who was simply trying too hard. The Mariners hope that was the case, at least.

2. How good can Felix Hernandez be, and how good can he make the rotation as a whole?
We've all seen how good he can be, and that's flat-out dominant at times. He has a mid- to high-90s fastball with wicked movement and an easy delivery, a great curveball, a surprisingly good changeup, and the ability and confidence to throw any pitch in any count. That's the makings of a major star and a rotation-transcending type of arm. The big challenge for the Mariners will be to keep him grounded mentally, to keep him healthy, and to make sure he isn't expected to strike out every hitter in every inning.

3. Do the Mariners have enough offense to have a successful season?
On paper, maybe not, especially after last year, but if last year was simply a season in which nothing went right, then they could improve in a big way. If Beltre and Reed play to what the Mariners believe their capabilities are and the team gets the same seasons from Ichiro, Sexson, Ibanez and Everett while the young guys -- Betancourt and Lopez -- improve a little, it could be a very exciting offense with a good mixture of speed, power and situational play. That's what makes the 2006 Mariners a very intriguing team.

The bottom line
One of the Mariners' major problems last year was their lack of chemistry and identity. Some argue that these things come with winning, which might be true, but the fact that the team was mired in a losing season and started jettisoning older players while taking a look at youth is a good reason for that. Expect the 2006 Mariners to be a more defined group that will have every opportunity to jell in Spring Training and come out of the box with more confidence. The pieces are in place for a winning season. Now the team must get consistent and start building a winning tradition, starting inside the clubhouse.

Doug Miller is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.