The last Spring Training game is on TV right now, and I am sitting on the couch in my Rockies shirt, trying to break it in before my trip in May (also, I slept in it and have been too lazy to go anywhere yet today). The Mariners are playing with what looks like as close to a major league lineup as we’re going to get before Opening Day in Texas on Monday.
So far in the 6th inning, the Mariners up by three runs, and Steve Clevenger just singled in a runner. I feel like this game being against the Rockies is also a nice little introduction for my adventures in a few weeks. A few weeks! I can hardly even believe the season starts the day after tomorrow!
One of the events I missed talking about earlier this week was the departure of Jesus Montero. Montero, once so valuable to the Mariners organization that we gave up a promising pitcher in Michael Pineda for him, has simply been the opposite of good nearly the entire time he has been here. I was always on Montero’s side; even when the now-infamous ice cream sandwich incident occurred a while back, I still hoped he could get it together. And he did, for a short while; he lost a bunch of weight and showed up to camp last spring looking better than ever. He had a new attitude, maybe mixed with a bit of humility, but still with a positive outlook on what he could do for the team. The management decided to try and move him to a first base position, pulling him away from his issues at catcher, and he did really well in Triple A last year, with a .355/.398/.569 line over 98 games, and a .223/.250/.411 line in 38 games up here in Seattle. He showed up to camp again this year, and battled for a starting position. But, to quote an unnamed friend of mine recently, “he’s just not that good”. We will never know what it is that Jack Zduriencik and his scouts saw in Montero enough to want him here so badly, but that chapter in Mariners history is over now. Montero went through waivers and was claimed almost immediately by the Toronto Blue Jays, where he was assigned to their Triple A team in Buffalo NY. He is only 26, and likely still has some baseball left in him, and may even prove useful for the Jays this year, should Edwin Encarnacion, Justin Smoak, or Chris Colabello need some help. I am sorry he did not work out here, but I also don’t think it was ever meant to be. Maybe the Jays’ coaches can find the thing that is missing from Montero’s swing and tune him up for a better degree of success. I wish him luck.
Earlier this week was also a team building exercise in the form of Superhero Day for the team. I don’t have much else to comment on that, so here’s a picture instead, photo credit to the MarinersPR Twitter account:
More can be found on Shannon Drayer’s blog here. I haven’t been able to keep up on blogs and news enough to get the full impact of what it is that Jerry Dipoto and Scott Servais have been doing with team building, but so far what I have heard I really like. It’s not just a bunch of random guys thrown together and expected to perform this year; it’s a bunch of random guys thrown together and having their respect and knowledge of each other cultivated and brought together in a way that I don’t think we’ve really seen since 2009, when the Griffey/Ichiro pairing and bullpen gladiator helmet situation was like the most fun thing to watch ever. We are going into 2016 with a team that will have been actively taught things about each other’s countries and personalities, and encouraged to get to know each other as human beings. I can’t think of a better way to build a team. I am approaching this season cautiously, just like every season, but I feel like management has the team’s best interest at heart now, maybe moreso over their own jobs; and that is a refreshing approach to be seeing.
It’s the middle of the 7th, the Mariners are up 8-3, and the weather outside is fantastic. I’ve got a barbecue to go to, and a Redwings hockey game to watch, so I’m going to finish this up and head out. The weather this week is supposed to be getting nicer and nicer, and I heard the other morning on the news that Friday the 8th should be just fabulous weather for a great home opener. I’ll be getting off work early to maybe grab a bite to eat outside the stadium with Tom before we head to the game. I haven’t been this excited to sit in the left field bleachers since…last year! This week is going to be hard to live through, but I think I can do it. Only a few more days until the Best Game Ever is back in Seattle!