Peguero prepping for big season with Mariners

Peguero prepping for big season with Mariners

Peguero prepping for big season with Mariners
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Carlos Peguero talks a big game and that should surprise no one.

The 6-foot-5, 245-pound outfielder is confident. He walks with a swagger, and he's not settling for anything less than becoming a giant in the game in 2012.

"I'm 25. I'm ready," he said. "It's my time to stay in the big leagues."

At what level Peguero starts the season is still to be determined. What is certain is that last year taught him a few valuable lessons that he believes will make him into a big-time player in the future.

"I feel great," he said. "My goal is like everyone else's goal in this clubhouse: To keep working hard and to make this team. I just hope God graces with me with good health so I can do my job."

Peguero hit .196 with six home runs and 19 RBIs in 46 games for the Mariners last season. He walked eight times, while striking out 54 times in 155 plate appearances. It was a far cry, at least statistically, from the hitting prowess he displayed at Triple-A Tacoma, where he hit .317 with 13 home runs and 47 RBIs in 57 games.

Peguero said his first lesson was a big one: A little patience goes a long way.

"In the Minor Leagues, I think I got used to playing every day, and had a lot of playing time with success," he said. "In the big leagues, sometimes, you put too much pressure on yourself when you do get to play. You want to do too much. I've learned that you can't do that. You have to be patient."

Peguero made his big-league debut as a ninth inning defensive replacement for Ichiro Suzuki against the Tigers on April 19, and started four of the next give games, managing a total of two hits in those contests before he was optioned back to the Minors.

He was recalled to the big leagues on May 9, and hit .197 through July 18 during his second stint with the Mariners. He had four hits in his final 29 big league at-bats.

"Honestly, it was a big jump from Minors to the Majors, because every player has the dreams of making it to the big leagues and when you get there, it's a dream come true," he said. "For me, I was a little surprised at first, but it was a great experience."

Signed by the Mariners as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2005, Peguero made his professional debut a year later. By 2007, he was playing for Class-A Wisconsin in the Midwest League. After two seasons at Class-A Advance High Desert, the outfielder hit .254 with 23 home runs and 73 RBIs for Double-A West Tennessee in 2010.

Peguero has a reputation for putting up big numbers. He's hit 97 home runs in 543 Minor League games. He's also struck out 708 times, including 172 strikeouts in 2009 and 178 in 2010.

"He's really making a strong effort to do some things offensively that allows that power and that bat to play out more," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "He's being more disciplined, recognizing pitches better and not trying to do too much. He is so strong, and he has so much raw power up there, he needs to become a better hitter."

Peguero knows what happened last year. He sees the statistics just like everyone else does. He's just not going to concentrate on the negative. Instead, he likes to focus on the improvements he made at the plate from 2010 to 2011, and another lesson he is trying to master: plate discipline.

"It [went] well for me last year in the Minor Leagues, and I'm grateful for that," he said. "I got called up and feel like I took advantage of my opportunities. The goal now is to keep taking advantage of it. It was a year full of experience, how things work in the big leagues and how to adjust. That's what I think about."

He's also thinking about a big year.

"We fought to the very end last season, but that's how baseball is sometimes, and there is only one winner," he said. "I learned a lot. I want to make this team so I can keep going with that experience and build on it."

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.