Spring Training Has Officially Started!

Yesterday was the Mariners first spring training game of the season, their annual charity game against the Padres. It was every bit as wonderful as I wanted it to be, and for two glorious hours and change, I got to sit in a cold office in gray Seattle and hear our announcers, the crack of baseballs against bats, the trumpet guy (the absolute sure sign that you are watching a Mariners spring training game) the cries of lemonade and food vendors, and the sun. Yes, I could hear the sun. Sitting here listening to today’s game (the 710 ESPN app finally works on my phone), I can almost feel it. It was 84F yesterday in the Peoria area, and while generally I complain here when it gets that warm, right now I miss it very much.

Trying to write a recap in less than a half hour would be difficult 24 hours postgame, but we hammered San Diego good, shutting them out 7-0 with multiple home runs and even a stolen base attempt or two. It might “not count”, but from where I’m sitting, it counts a lot. I wait for the charity game all winter, and when it happens it feels like a rubber band unwinding. We wait and chip away the days during winter, and when the first spring training game happens, it’s not a breaking dam, but it’s just enough to get a drink from, just enough to tide us over until the dam really breaks on April 8th.

Franklin Gutierrez seems to be working his way back to Death to Flying Things status again. I am cautiously optimistic, but optimistic nonetheless. He did a postgame interview yesterday with Shannon Drayer where he talked about feeling much better now after his battles with ankylosing spondylitis in recent years. The condition hasn’t left him, but he sounded upbeat, and managed to hit a dinger yesterday. It sounds like the team’s plan is to limit his field play to utility work in the outfield corners, and he did speak about the lingering desire to get back to center field. He was so brilliant there, and it was such a shame to lose him; it seems like his crash into the wall during that game in Cleveland years ago was sort of the beginning of the end in center for him. I was thinking the other day about the trade that brought him here, and about how sad I was to lose JJ Putz to the Mets, in spite of Putz’s performance issues in Seattle; but I realize now that we clearly won that trade. And if you think about it, we won it pretty good, given that there is a new front office in place, Gutierrez is from the old guard’s dealing, and the new folks thought enough of him to keep him here in Seattle. Plus, JJ has of course retired from playing and is now a front office member down with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Say what you want about Jack Zduriencik, this one really worked out.

I’m out of time now, so I’m just going to go back to work and listen to this game and dream of warmer weather, and Opening Day.

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