Mariners' bullpen out of sight in Japan

Mariners' bullpen out of sight in Japan

Mariners' bullpen out of sight in Japan
TOKYO -- One of the oddities of playing baseball in the Tokyo Dome is that the bullpens are located underneath the stands, back with the batting cages, so that relievers can't see the game except on a small television in the closed room.

"There's a TV up top that shows a scoreboard and kilometers per hour and balls and strikes and all that stuff," Mariners reliever Steve Delabar said. "Below that there's a view from behind the pitcher, straight on, like a TV view. They have the intro music and all that stuff, but they never go to commercial, so we just sit back there watching that live feed from the center-field camera."

Delabar said the TV image is on a delay of several seconds, so players sometimes hear loud cheers and then wait to see what happens. But mostly, they just sit in their room, which the Mariners tabbed "The Dungeon" and wait to get called.

"You get loose, then you walk through underneath and come out on the field," Delabar said. "It's a strange setup, but it's the way they do it."

Not all Japanese stadiums are arranged that way, but the Tokyo Dome is among numerous parks that use a similar configuration.

"It's quite a bit different," said Tom Wilhelmsen, who picked up the win in relief in Wednesday's 3-1 victory. "You're kind of stuck back in the corner and just waiting for it, watching on a very small TV. There's about a 5-10 second delay, but they were good with communication letting us know what's going on and when you're coming in. So I was ready for it."

The hardest part, say the Mariners, is feeling so far apart from the action.

"You do feel a little removed from all the atmosphere they have on the field," said Delabar. "There's a lot going on, especially in the exhibition games [against Japanese teams] with all the chatter going on and the bands going on and banging their sticks and stuff.

"Being in there, all you can hear is the really loud cheers. You don't hear that atmosphere that they have and it feels kind of like we're missing out on that. But that's the way they do things here and you've got to respect that."