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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

March 1, 2007 at 8:02 AM

Play ball!

No, it’s not the regular season yet, but this is as close to the real thing as the Mariners will see for the next month. There was a bit more of a buzz running through the clubhouse this morning as the Mariners prepared to take on the San Diego Padres at noon (PST) at the Peoria Sports Complex.
Horacio Ramirez is scheduled to pitch the first two innings. That should give us all plenty to write about, other than the fact he was traded for Rafael Soriano. Have we ever mentioned that?
Here’s the lineup for today:
2B Willie Bloomquist
CF Jeremy Reed
DH Jose Guillen
LF Raul Ibanez
1B Richie Sexson
RF Ben Broussard
C Kenji Johjima
3B Mike Morse
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
We’ve got the lineup for tomorrow’s game, as well, which will be the official Cactus League opener as opposed to today’s charity matchup. The only difference is that the stats from today won’t be “official” exhibition season numbers or count towards spring totals. Like anyone cares.
So, Felix Hernandez starts tomorrow, just as he’ll likely start the official season opener if all goes according to plan. The lineup is as follows:
CF Ichiro
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Jose Vidro
LF Raul Ibanez
1B Bryan LaHair
RF Wladimir Balentien
2B Willie Bloomquist
C Rene Rivera
SS Rey Ordonez
I know what you’re all thinking…this will be the first real test of Jose Guillen’s patience. Perhaps we’ll see a Guillen-Balentien duel for playing time? No, it’s just that the team wants to get everyone some playing time before folks are cut and dispatched to minor league camp. Nobody plays every day in spring training. It just isn’t done. Besides, Guillen won’t be put into the field until next week even though he’s been throwing the ball hard and on a straight line. He was put through numerous drills yesterday and came out shining. The team says he’s about five or six days away from playing his position in a game, given that no one wants him to risk an off-balance throw and hurt himself when there is still added time to get him ready. Remember, it’s still a month before the season begins.
2B Jose Lopez is not progressing as quickly as Guillen and manager Mike Hargrove estimates he’ll need another 7-9 days to make it into the lineup. Lopez is still favoring his ankle during some drills, even though he’s now hitting and taking ground balls with his teammates.
Oh and don’t mind the fact Ichiro isn’t playing today and didn’t participate in yesterday’s intrasquad affair. He’s apparently healthy and yes, still wealthy and wise.
Hargrove will take a conservative approach to these early games, though he expects to do more hit-and-runs and selective base-stealing as spring progresses.
“We might do a lot more hit and runs and stealing than we have in the past,” he said. “We may not, but we probably will.”
It will depend on the situation, he added. And he cautioned that what happens in the games here won’t necessarily translate to a regular season approach. Yes, the team does want to be more aggressive on the basepaths. But while Richie Sexson may be asked to participate in more hit-and-runs this spring, it’s almost certain he’ll be green lighted to do what he wants at the plate once the games start to count.
Off to the field to watch stretching! Seems a little warmer than yesterday, though compared to you folks back home, we have it made down here. And take it from a Canadian who grew up driving in far worse weather than we’ve seen in Washington this winter. Ease up on the gas when you’re driving through the Snoqualmie Pass! Hey, that rhymes…

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