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February 20, 2008 at 10:25 AM

Rotation slots decided shortly

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Full squad workouts began this morning, with some bunt coverage drills and then batting practice. Above, you see Ichiro warming up for his first cuts of the spring. Followed below by him actually spraying some line drives all over the place.
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Met briefly with manager John McLaren this morning after he addressed his full squad of players for the first time. McLaren said one of his first orders of business moving forward will be to settle the Nos. 3-5 slots in the starting rotation so that the pitchers know their role going forward.

Obviously, this is not a simple case of “five No. 1” guys as the team’s party line has stated. There are some egos involved here and some realities to accept. The No. 5 guy is likely not going to make the same number of starts as the No. 1, or 2, 3 and 4 guys, all things being equal. Just the way things work. Once there’s an off-day, if Erik Bedard, or Felix Hernandez is going well, the team may not want them pitching with an extra day’s rest.
There’s also a mental adjustment of sorts to make. The No. 4 guy will be opening his season on the road, in Baltimore…he hopes. At least it’s not Cleveland, but the weather in Baltimore can be nasty in April. That will mean a bunch of down time since the last outing by that No. 4 — and No. 5 — starter since facing major league hitters in spring training.
“I don’t like indecision,” McLaren said. “I want to let everybody know where they are so they can do what they have to do in their minds.”
McLaren added: “This game is about communication and I want to be upfront with everybody.”
That includes Ichiro. McLaren said he has let the center fielder and other veteran players know that they should not be afraid to take on a more vocal clubhouse role. McLaren felt Ichiro had started doing that last season already.
“When you’re the best player and you have something to say, it means a lot,” McLaren said. “And I think he’s moved up to the point where he’s comfortable talking to his teammates (in English).”
Jose Lopez has his visa and is expected to arrive here in-uniform tomorrow. Tony Phillips is already here as a guest coach and should be sticking around all spring. Here’s a shot of him in action today, hitting grounders during infield workouts.
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Down below, there’s a shot of GM Bill Bavasi watching this morning’s workout. Bavasi has been quite the popular interview target of late for the national media. This morning, he chatted with Peter Gammons of ESPN and Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. Everyone wants to know how the Erik Bedard trade is going to work out for the M’s. It’s not a clear-cut verdict yet, which is what makes it so compelling.
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