Today was the day the Mariners hit the field for the first full-squad workout — all 67 of them, including the 40-man roster plus 27 invitees. The final player was Mike Wilson, who was assigned No. 94, but wore 97, without his name on it, while his uniform was being readied. Not a great sign for him.
When the team amassed on the field — after an hour-long meeting that included introductions of all the front-office personnel, and Eric Wedge’s first-day-of-school address — it looked more like 167, all scattered about. The picture above is all the position players, minus pitchers, getting instructions from Wedge. And the media was out in full force, much of it Japanese reporters, about 50 strong, to chronicle the first day of Ichiro and Munenori Kawasaki (along with pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, who has been here a week already).
They got what they wanted when, after Ichiro hit in BP, the two met near the cage for a short conversation as Kawasaki was preparing to hit in the next group. It was what we in the business call “a photo op,” and the photogs took full advantage, rushing to capture the picture. Here’s my attempt:
A word about Kawasaki: He’s a real piece of work, full of energy and enthusiasm. All in all, a perfect mate for fellow shortstop Brendan Ryan, also a bundle of energy, who seems amused by him. During infield drills, whenever he stepped up to take a grounder, Kawasaki would utter a loud phrase, a kind of gutteral exclamation, as if to psyche himself up. Every time. But one thing he showed me is that he can pick it. He looked like a solid glove man — and was spraying line drives in BP.
I know a lot of people want to see the new-look Franklin Gutierrez, who is weighing in at about 200 pounds and looks remarkably more muscular than last year, when he was almost skeletal in comparison. Whether or not it will translate on the field remains to be seen, but he knocked a couple over the wall in BP and looked good.
Speaking of which, the home-run kings from the first day of BP were Mike Carp (who scattered fans behind the right-field wall repeatedly, and sent a few into the parking lot), and Jesus Montero, who nearly clanked one off a truck driving by on the street beyond left. Dustin Ackley hit a few out, as did Ichiro. And looking pretty spry was Carlos Guillen, in his first day in a Mariner uniform since the end of the 2003 season. That’s him at far right with coaches Chris Chambliss and Robby Thompson.