Mariners manager Eric Wedge was in the dugout for his daily media session a short while ago and was asked whether this feels like a season opener to him.
“There’s still a feel of that here, but it’s different, though,” Wedge said. “I’m not going to lie to you. It’s different after we’ve been over in Japan. It’s different in a sense that we’re going to keep playing this time.”
Wedge said there were some things he could get a feel for with the team over in Japan. But others will just require more continuity. It’s tough to get a serious gauge on things when you play twice in a span of about 27 hours and then call it quit for over a week.
“You have to understand that it was different and everything about it was different,” Wedge said. “So, you have to keep that in mind. But really, getting into your season starts now.”
Mike Carp swung a bat today in Arizona for the first time since his shoulder injury and will be re-evaluated on Monday. So will Franklin Gutierrez, who continues to work back from that torn pectoral muscle.
But Carp will be back well before Gutierrez. I asked Wedge what Gutierrez needs to do before he can go out on a rehabilitation assignment in the minors.
“Nothing, he’s just got to keep working his arm back until he gets to the point where he can throw,” Wedge said. “He’ll go out and DH first, just because that’s where he needs reps. Carp had a spring training, Gutierrez did not. So, that’s going to be a difference right there.”
And Michael Saunders, starting tonight in center field, will likely have at least a month-long opportunity to try to stick with this club as a regular in Gutierrez’s place. Once Gutierrez is back, then Saunders, if he keeps playing well, could take a shot at claiming the full-time left field job. It will be interesting if Saunders performs.
Caught up briefly today in the clubhouse with Erasmo Ramirez, who has received a flood of well-wishes from his native Nicaragua after making the Opening Day roster and then sticking with the club through the finale of spring training.
Ramirez told me there has been tons of talk about him on radio and TV in Nicaragua. There was also a sports magazine cover with talk about Nicaragua’s “Five Aces” pitching in the majors and minors and that he was front-and-center on it.
Ramirez continues to get media attention here. You can see him today in the photo above, just before batting practice, giving a video interview to a Spanish-language reporter.
His family had some good advice.
“They just told me to always get better every day and not to forget where I came from,” he said. “They told me ‘Don’t forget how hard it was and everything that’s happened with you through your struggles to get where you are.’ ”