(Video provided by Seattle Mariners)
The storyline today in Surprise was supposed to be Felix Hernandez’s Cactus League debut, and that went fine. Casper Wells had a double, a three-run homer and drove in four, giving him nine RBIs in his last two games.
But it was hitting prospect Stefen Romero who stole the show in the Mariners’ 12-2 win over previously unbeaten Kansas City.
Romero, the Mariners’ minor league player of the year last season, had himself quite a day. He went 4-for-5, with a grand slam, a three-run homer, a double, and four runs scored. Romero drove in seven.
Manager Eric Wedge wasn’t around to see it, having accompanied the split-squad to Phoenix for a game against Oakland, which the Mariners lost 7-3.
“It’s all word of mouth,’’ Romero said. “It will get back to him.”
No doubt about that. Romero is already well on the Mariners radar after hitting a combined .352 last season with High Desert and Jackson in 2012 with 64 extra base hits (34 double, seven triples and 23 homers) and 101 RBIs in 116 games. And now he’s at .500 (7-for-14) this spring.
“ I was put in situations where guys in front of me got on base, produced, and luckily I got great pitches to hit and drove the ball well today,’’ said Romero, 24.
A 12th-round selection out of Oregon State in 2010, Romero doesn’t seem to have a path to making the team out of training camp. But he’s knocking hard on the door. Romero is primarily a second baseman but can play third and the outfield as well.
His fourth-inning grand slam came off Guillermo Moscoso.
“I wasn’t trying to hit on the ground,’’ he said. “I was trying to get up in the air somewhere in the outfield. He got behind in the count 2-0 real quick. I was sitting fastball and luckily he threw me a fastball and I put a good swing on it.”
His next homer came in the ninth off Anthony Ortega and went deep onto the grassy area behind the center-field wall.
“It was my last at-bat and I got a little greedy,’’ he said. “I was just trying to hit the ball hard somewhere. He made a mistake and I got it.”
Yesterday, Romero had entered the game in the fifth and struck out twice against Milwaukee. This was a complete turnaround.
“You just have to flush it,’’ he said. “You have to have a short-term memory. Everything went my way today.’’
Assessing his first major-league camp, Romero said,
“It’s an awesome experience, being around guys like (Raul) Ibanez, (Michael) Morse, Kendrys Morales. You have to take pieces of their game, especially (guest coach Jay) Buhner in the dugout today, he always has a positive mental attitude. It just rubs off on the teammates and the team. It’s a great experience.”