Mariners continue backpack tradition

Mariners continue backpack tradition

MINNEAPOLIS -- When rookie right-handed reliever Shawn Kelley went on the 15-day disabled list last week, he left behind the pink backpack that he's been carrying around during the regular season.

The "Hello Kitty" backpack still travels with the team, even without Kelley, but has been put in storage until its owner returns.

With rookie and former backpacker Chris Jakubauskas now in the starting rotation, he no longer is qualified to pack a 'pack -- which is strictly a Mariners bullpen tradition.

Demonstrating his creative side, Mariners reliever Mark Lowe, the current bullpen rookie hazer, decided that another kind of backpack was needed. So he purchased an Army-issued, camouflage backpack, along with a metal ammo case, and the items have become left-hander Garrett Olson's constant companion.

"There aren't any rookies in the bullpen," Olson said, "so we decided to go with something a little more serious than a 'Hello Kitty' backpack. We're a serious bunch out there, and it never fails to go with a military theme."

The backpack gets filled with "rations" on a daily basis, ranging from candy snacks to fruit.

"It's basically a survival kit," Olson said. "There are even some translation books, just in case we need to refer to something in another language, other than English."

The newest addition to the kit is a gray plastic bat.

A Twins fan sitting in the right-field seats during Saturday night's game at the Metrodome accidentally dropped the bat onto the field, and a club employee picked it up.

"It was generously donated to us," Olson said. "Actually, we confiscated it from him and it's now our rally stick. It was present when [Adrian] Beltre hit that home run. It also can be used as antennae."

Olson landed the backpack job when Kelley went on the DL with a strained left oblique.

"It was between me and [Sean] White," Olson said. "We have the least amount of time [in the big leagues]. It's an honor to be carrying it around. And this one's better than the pink 'Hello Kitty' backpack."

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