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July 7, 2011 at 4:45 PM

Kyle Seager will be wearing his elbow guard tonight, thanks to Cliff Lee

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You might remember last year in spring training, when Cliff Lee was trying to come back off that foot injury and was about to throw for the first time.
The Mariners arranged for a simulated game where Lee and Felix Hernandez could both face live hitters for the first time. Well, any good game involving a pitcher also needs hitters willing to stand in there and make the games realistic, so Kyle Seager and a few others were rounded up and told to get in there and take their hacks.
Seager didn’t have his elbow guard with him.
“I thought we were only taking regular BP, so I didn’t bring my guard out,” Seager, who makes his MLB debut at third base for the Mariners tonight, told us down on the field moments ago. “One of the guys is like ‘No, no, no. It’s Cliff Lee. He’s not going to hit you.’
“Then it’s like ‘Wham!’ First pitch.”
Lee did indeed plunk Seager, a moment immortalized on video shown right here on this blog. Seager is the second guy up, in the final 20 seconds or so of the video if you don’t want to watch Nick Franklin hit ahead of him.

“So, I was going down the line trying to pretend it didn’t hurt, but my arm was in pain,” Seager said.
And that’s why — rain or shine, practice or not — when he faces a live pitcher, he always wears his guard now. He’ll have it on tonight.
Seager is batting seventh. Adam Kennedy will play first base and Justin Smoak is the designated hitter. Smoak needs the “rest” as his batting line of late will attest.
Jack Cust is on the bench. So is Jack Wilson and so is Chone Figgins. That’s a $16 million bench right there. It’s $28 million if you count the ghost of Milton Bradley, which might be lurking around as his Los Angeles home is about a 45-minute drive from here.

Seager said he had no idea this move would come so quickly.
“I was as shocked as anybody,” he said.
Seager was sitting in the airport last night and saw a highlight of Torii Hunter driving in a run on a TV set. It dawned on his then that he’d be playing in the same ballpark he was seeing on television.
Two years ago, Seager and a bunch of his Class A High Desert teammates made an end-of-season trip here when the Mariners were in town. If you check out the top photo in the story link, that is Seager (he confirmed it when I showed him the photo down on the field) in the powder blue shirt (face partially obscured) blocked out a bit by Felix Hernandez. Let me know what you think. The smiley guy in the red and white striped shirt in Alex Liddi. They got to hang out down on the field, took a tour of the clubhouse and even chatted a bit with some of the players.
I asked Seager about it and he told me he was thinking of that moment as he walked into the ballpark today.
“I remember coming through here and walking through the locker room with them,” he said of his minor league teammates. “We didn’t really talk to anybody because we were scared of everybody. But just kind of getting in there. It was kind of cool walking back in here and seeing everything again. And then getting back to the same locker and seeing your name on the locker. So, it’s been real exciting. Kind of neat to debut here.”
Seager is making his debut alongside Dustin Ackley, who lived less than an hour from him in North Carolina when he was growing up. The two first came into contact when they were 11, playing against each other on traveling squads. Then, they teamed together on a high school all-star team and later roomed together his freshman year at the University of North Carolina.
“You guys know him, he’s a pretty good guy,” Seager said. “I don’t have much dirt on him. He’s a pretty good guy, he knows what he’s doing and he works hard. He knows what he wants. He’s been doing that since he was little.”
Seager got the usual advice from manager Eric Wedge: relax and play your game.
Easily said. Not so easily done. We’ll see how it goes from here.

Comments | Topics: Chone Figgins


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