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

February 20, 2014 at 8:21 AM

Notes, links and schedule for a windy Thursday in Peoria … McClendon works with Smoak on swing path

Good morning from a windy Peoria. Pretty quiet day with the Mariners. No accusations of butt dialing by the manager to the media, no injuries, no $240 million free agents making their debut.

Columnist Larry Stone, the target of much of my teasing, checked in with Nick Franklin and his reaction to the Robinson Cano signing and his future with the Mariners. As always, Franklin was pretty candid and honest. As Lloyd McClendon said yesterday, he has no preconceived notions about the shortstop. And defense will play a role in his decision.

I wrote about my cousin Erasmo Ramirez, who if he just stays healthy will likely make the starting rotation.

The Mariners will have live batting practice with pitchers throwing off the mound to hitters in the cage (groups listed below). It’s a progression in spring training camp. Some players swing at the pitches, other players “track” where they watch the ball come out of the pitcher’s hand and into the strike zone. It’s something to train their eyes to get used to seeing live pitching again.

“It’s more for the pitchers,” McClendon said. “I tell our guys, ‘sometimes tracking is just as good as swinging.’ Obviously when you are seeing live pitching for the first time, it can be a little tough. I think you’ll see our veteran guys doing a little more tracking. And the younger kids in camp are a little more gung ho. It’s tough, there’s a little adrenaline.”

McClendon was working with Justin Smoak during batting practices.

“I was just trying to get him to understand your swing path and what it does to your swing if you are in the right spot,” McClendon said. “It’s not about muscling up. It’s not about swinging harder. It’s about getting that bat in the proper slot to get it through the zone. If you do that, positive things will happen. I think he liked what he felt. It was something to build off of.”

Did he see differences from either side of the plate?

“After we made adjustments, I did,” McClendon said. “I just don’t like hitters who – the term I use is ‘go around the ball’ – get the hands outside the ball. I think you are much more of a dangerous hitter if you keep your hands inside the baseball and attack from that angle.”

McClendon talked about changing the mindset of batting practice for players.

“This is the only time you have to work on your craft,” McClendon said. “So how you take batting practice and how you prepare is how you are going to perform in the game. For me, hitting home runs in BP means nothing. I want to see the path, I want to see you stay inside the ball. A lot of times a good swing doesn’t mean it leaves the cage, but the path is there. That’s what I’m trying to get them to understand.”

Hitters have their own routines, but McClendon has an expectation level of how things are supposed to be done.

“If you don’t like what you see, then tell them,” he said. “It’s part of the process. We have to change. It hasn’t been working. It’s about wins not about development. You have to change.”

Talked with trainer Rick Griffin about Danny Hultzen yesterday. He said they waited five months for Hultzen to start throwing. The normal recovery is start throwing at four months, but because Hultzen’s damage was extensive and the Mariners’ being cautionary they waited a little longer.

But Griffin was clear, Hultzen will not pitch in a game this season. He’s on a throwing program to build arm strength and the recovery will take an entire year. Only 30 percent of pitchers ever return from this surgery.

Linkage …

The Mariners have three players in the Baseball America Top 100 led by Taijuan Walker, who is ranked No. 11. Third baseman DJ Peterson is ranked No. 85 and James Paxton is ranked  No. 99.

Tim Brown of Yahoo writes about Mike Trout ...

The Phillies reported Oregon State pitcher Ben Wetzler to the NCAA about having contact with an agent.

 Homer Bailey got paid … now whether he deserves it has been debated.

Prince Fielder will be batting third for the Rangers.

Live batting practice — 11:05 a.m.

Field #3

  • Matt Palmer
  • Jimmy Gilheeney
  • Dominic Leone
  • Chance Ruffin

Field #4 

  • Lucas Luetge
  • Andrew Carraway
  • Nick Hill

Field #5

  • Tom Wilhelmsen
  • Anthony Fernandez
  • Logan Kensing

Field #6

  • Erasmo Ramirez
  • Joe Beimel
  • Blake Beavan

Bullpens

  • Taijuan Walker
  • Felix Hernandez

 

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