Mariners to participate in croquet event

Mariners to participate in croquet event

SEATTLE -- The Mariners are involved in several charitable endeavors this time of year, though none are likely to be as competitive or -- as the host likes to put it, "quirky" -- as the James Clifford Invitational Croquet Tournament.

That's right, croquet.

On Friday, Clifford -- the Mariners' Minor League strength and conditioning coach -- will preside over the second annual invitational near the team's Peoria Spring Training facility that will include current and former Mariners and coaches.

The entry fee for the event -- which is expected to have in upwards of 15 participants -- is a new toy that will be donated to an area Toys for Tots organization.

"It's small and a bit quirky but it's fun," Clifford said from his home in Peoria on Thursday. "It was great last year. ... We got together, had a barbeque at my house and had a blast. This year, I decided that we should do something for people who need more than we do."

So Clifford -- who is a former Seattle Minor Leaguer and All-American linebacker at the University of Washington -- decided to make the entry fee for the event a new toy.

"It's just a bunch of guys getting together for a good cause," Clifford said.

The croquet event will be held at a park near Peoria. Last year's champion, Willie Bloomquist, will be back to defend his title, even though he's participating in a charity golf event the same day.

Clifford said some of the other participants include 2006 first-round draft choice Brandon Morrow, outfielder Adam Jones, pitcher J.J. Putz, former Mariners pitcher Matt Thornton, first-base coach Mike Goff and outfielder Chris Snelling -- who is thought to be part of a deal with Washington for Jose Vidro -- among others.

"Snelling might have the inside [track] because of all the cricket he used to play," Clifford said of the Australian outfielder.

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