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January 25, 2015 at 7:19 PM

Mariners expected to add Endy Chavez, Franklin Gutierrez on minor league contracts

Tom Wilhelmsen modeling this season's "beard cap" promotion.

Tom Wilhelmsen modeling this season’s “beard cap” promotion.

First, sorry about the slew of Seahawks posts. I thought I was posting to the Seahawks blog. I’ve been helping out with the coverage the last month and am leaving for Arizona tomorrow. Anyway I started posting the transcripts we receive to a blog – just the wrong. My sincere apologies.

Let’s get to real business – baseball. I was at a packed FanFest on Saturday and talked to several players including Tom Wilhelmsen, Nelson Cruz, John Hicks, DJ Peterson, Austin Jackson and others. And I will post some more notes on it when I go through my recorder and notes.

The hints and reports had been there the last few weeks so this isn’t a surprise. But per sources, the team will announce on Tuesday that they’ve signed outfielders Endy Chavez and Franklin Gutierrez to minor league contracts with invitations to major league spring training.

Chavez signed a similar contract with Seattle last season. He started 2014 in Class AAA Tacoma and was called up on May 30 with his opt-out date of the contract nearing. He appeared in 80 games and posted a slash line of .276/.317/.371. He was a favorite of manager Lloyd McClendon and was a needed contributor when Michael Saunders, Corey Hart and Logan Morrison were all out with injuries.

Gutierrez sat out all of last season, trying to get healthy. He had signed a one-year, $1 million contract with Seattle, but complications from intestinal and viral issues forced him to be placed on the restricted list. He’s been playing winter ball in Venezuela.

It is unlikely that either makes the club out of spring training. They will probably begin 2015 in Tacoma.  Gutierrez has to prove he can stay healthy with some regularity.

Gutierrez’s agent has said his client is feeling healthy. But that seems to be a bit of a fantasy at this point.

They are low risk signs that could have dividends.

A few quick notes

Nelson Cruz watched two of the Winter League games that Robinson Cano participated in last week, including the game where Cano got four hits.

“He looked really good,” Cruz said. “His swing looked good.”

A source said there’s a good chance the Mariners will go to an arbitration hearing with reliever Tom Wilhelmsen. The Mariners have never done so with GM Jack Zduriencik. The last arbitration between a player and the organization was in 2001 with Freddy Garcia.

Austin Jackson is looking forward to batting leadoff. He felt his approach had gotten out of sorts after getting moved to lower in the order in Detroit. He also said that Lloyd McClendon pointed out a few bad habits in his swing he’d picked up last season. He’s been working fixing those issues this offseason.

DJ Peterson said he was worn down physically and beat up with minor nagging injuries during the Arizona Fall League. He’s tried to address that this offseason. He’s also worked daily on his footwork at third base.

Patrick Kivlehan isn’t sure what position he’ll be playing this season. He figures he will play several positions, but plenty of outfield. Peterson compared Kivlehan’s hitting approach to Hunter Pence – a little unorthodox at times, but highly effective.

Taijuan Walker said the modified offseason workouts that featured more upper body flexibility and core and leg strengthening has helped him this offseason. Mariners officials thought that Walker got a little too muscular in his upper body last season and it affected his delivery.

Here’s some video of Wilhelmsen singing “Build me up Buttercup”



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