Players excited to see new Safeco Field additions

Players excited to see new Safeco Field additions

CHICAGO -- After seven weeks in Arizona and a week on the road in Oakland and Chicago, the Mariners are interested to see what Safeco Field looks like when they come home for their opening series starting Monday against the Astros.

Though players were told at the end of last season that the fences were being moved in, they haven't seen the new configuration, or the huge new video screen in center field that will be the largest in the Major Leagues.

The fences figure to most affect right-handed hitters, since the largest change is a shortened left-center-field gap. The fence will be from 4-17 feet closer at different points in that area of the field, helping make Safeco a little less cavernous in the power alley.

"I'm very happy about that," catcher Jesus Montero said. "It's going to be different this year. Last year, we were like, 'Oh, this park is tough.' Now it's going to be better. It's going to be fun."

"It's definitely going to be different, so it'll be interesting to see what it looks like," said first baseman Justin Smoak. "But as a team, we're just excited to get back home and play in front of our own fans. It'll be good to get back there and get settled in and get ready to go. It feels like we've been gone forever."

The huge new video board is also a curiosity for the players.

"Without a doubt, I'm excited about the new video screen," said outfielder Michael Saunders. "Safeco is so beautiful. The video screen was the one thing we were missing. It kind of looked like a beautiful park with an outdated scoreboard. Now that that's coming in, that'll be something not just for the players, but the fans as well. It's up to date, it's a gorgeous ballpark and it's a pleasure to be able to play there on a regular basis."

The Mariners opened on the road in Oakland for a fourth consecutive season, so they're eager to get home for their own festivities in Seattle to start a 10-game homestand.

"Going back to Seattle will be an amazing experience and an incredible moment," said Raul Ibanez, who has rejoined the Mariners for a third time in his career. "It will be a lot of good, positive emotions there."

Greg Johns is a reporter for 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.