Safeco And Taijuan Walker, Getting Ready For Opening Day

This is my last day in Portland and after a not-great night of sleep (and “looking forward” to 3-4 hours’ worth of driving in what appears to be some pretty bad rain all up the I5 corridor). I feel like I need to make up for the other day’s distracted, tired, awkward post during the Brewers game, so here we are. I am waiting for coffee to be brewed, and will be making a pit stop at Voodoo Doughnuts to bring up north to friends before we leave the city.

The Mariners, meanwhile, are making all sorts of preparations for Opening Day. Sprucing up the place with some new dugout paint and chairs for the Diamond Club (maybe some day, I keep saying to myself), new interior decor for the Hit It Here Cafe (along with a revamped menu, which I am hoping they will post soon), and some new seatbacks for the bleachers (thanks, guys! My back will appreciate it!). They have also put new rubberized floors in both dugouts. I don’t even want to know what kind of hellish sunflower-and-gum-covered nightmare that might have been to remove and re-install, but good for them. At the very least, it will reduce the impact on guys’ spines from jumping around. The Ms have also given us some new signage out over the left field bleachers:

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 9.17.54 AMI may have to wear more gear to games this year. Last year it was mostly black, stuff I wear to work and every day in general. I will probably need to do a bit of shopping on Opening Day to find a shirt I can wear for 2015. I have never had a lucky shirt. I need a lucky shirt.

Bad news from camp over the last 24 hours; Chris Taylor just gave Brad Miller the starting shortstop job by breaking his wrist. Taylor got hit by a ball (unsure whether a pitch or errant throw or what at the moment) and broke a small wrist bone that will not require surgery, but will have him wearing a brace for the next 4-6 weeks or so pretty much around the clock. This also puts more pressure on Miller to succeed at the plate. He also needs to bring his OPS up, and while several projections have him doing just that (and his batting average following suit), I am still nervous. I keep forgetting how young he is, and the fact that his time in the majors has been much shorter than it sometimes feels. I am also keenly interested in everyone on this team having an .800 OPS or higher, which is terribly unrealistic of course, but a dream is a dream. I’d like to see Miller’s average come up to at least .250. That’s not too much to ask, right?

Taijuan Walker is making a very strong case for himself and a spot in the rotation. It sounds like he may be gaining the mental toughness needed for the job, and is no longer panicking when things get rough. He sounds confident in and analytical of himself, and to me that is a good sign. Even nearly getting badly injured wasn’t enough to shake him, he just picked up the ball and got the out and that was that. His direct competitor, Roenis Elias, goes on the hill today, but sadly I will be driving through this ridiculous rain trying to get home. I had originally planned to watch the game at my favorite pub near home, but this trip was kind of last minute family deal, which was why I tried to get the game in on Friday; otherwise I have to wait until this upcoming weekend to see more, and frankly, I just couldn’t. Summer cannot be here soon enough, and it starts when baseball does, not when the calendar says so! If they broadcast it on 710, I might be able to listen to some of it in the car. We’ll see.

I was going to address some of the new rule changes today, but I think I need to do a bit more reading on them to have a more rounded opinion on the changes. Particularly, the pitch clock. Maybe over the course of this week I’ll get some time to write something during lunch.



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