The Mariners prevailed 7-1 over their “natural rivals” – the San Diego Padres in the annual charity game in the Cactus League opener at Peoria Stadium.
Of course, it was Robinson Cano’s debut. And he wasted little time making an impression. The applause had barely died from being announced as the hitter when he hammered a single up the middle on the first pitch he saw from Padres starter Eric Stults.
“It was my first spring training game,” he said. “I didn’t want to just go up and take a pitch. I wanted to see how I would feel. But maybe from now on, I will take a pitch.”
Cano would score from first with ease on Justin Smoak’s double to right-center (also in the video above). Smoak, who was hitting right-handed, made Cano proud with that swing.
“That was a beautiful swing, especially from the right side,” Cano said. “He kept his hands inside. If he does that during the season, you will see a difference this year.”
Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon was also pleased.
“That was very pleasant,” he said. “That was a great at-bat. He really stayed inside the ball nice and really drove the ball to the gap. One thing we want to impress upon him that I think he has the ability to lead the league in doubles. And that’s what I want his goal to be is to lead the league in doubles.”
Those are high hopes for Smoak. Cano knows that any step toward that goal starts in spring.
“He’s a guy we know can hit,” Cano said. “Like I talked to him, you don’t want to go through this year hitting .230 like last year. You’ve got to set your mind that starting now, you want to have a good season. I did the net drill yesterday and he’s been working with Howard Johnson, too. You can see it today.”
He did that in his second plate appearance in the third inning. Padres’ pitcher Dan Roach never threw him a strike, walking him on four straight fastballs.
“It’s the first game,” he said. “It’s where you want to find out how you feel and where you are at. It feels good. I know my swing is there and from now I just have to be patient.”
Erasmo Ramirez got the start and looked solid, pitching two innings, giving up two hits and getting four ground ball outs.
“Even the hits I gave up were ground balls,” Ramirez said. “That made me happy. I just want to keep the ball down. I just want to keep everything the same. Just focus and throw strikes.”
The Mariners had 10 hits and also scored a few runs on sacrifice flies. Dustin Ackley had a solid ground rule double to center (below)
Tom Wilhelmsen hit 97 mph with his fastball and looked better than at the end of last season.
Danny Farquhar was 95 mph with his fastball. He didn’t use the change-up he’d been working on this spring.
Abraham Almonte had two walks, scored two runs and a stole a base. Pretty solid game at the lead-off spot.
Youngster James Jones, who will likely start the season in Class AAA Tacoma, made this nice running catch to rob a double