Greetings from sunny Arizona and the Mariners spring training complex in Peoria. Not a lot of news stuff today. Pitchers and catchers will take their physicals on Friday and then be done for the day. On Saturday, they will have their first full workout.
There were still a lot of players who arrived early and were at the complex working out today. Kyle Seager, Willie Bloomquist, Mike Zunino, Brad Miller, Chris Taylor, Stefen Romero, James Jones, Ji-Man Choi, Jabari Blash, John Hicks and a few others. On the other field, I could hear Felix Hernandez yelling at people. He also showed up to the position players workout asking to take BP. Roenis Elias, Yoervis Medina, Carson Smith, Forrest Snow, Tyler Olsen and others were there.
And of course Jesus Montero was there. He’s been here all offseason. There was no person I was more curious about seeing. After hearing all offseason about his commitment to conditioning and the shedding of 40 pounds off his frame. I wanted to see the difference and changes.
When the group of position players first walked out on the field to take infield, I didn’t recognize Montero. I was trying to take notes on which players were there and I saw a guy at first base standing with Blash, Romero and Choi from a distance and I didn’t know who it was. I watched him take a few ground balls, moved closer and finally realized it was Montero. It was a startling change. Most of the players I talked to said the same thing.
Here’s a few pics I took with my phone. I know they are a little grainy.
For a juxtaposition. Here’s Montero a year ago at this time …
And here’s Montero now …
The difference is pretty amazing. Watching him take ground balls, it’s obvious that he moves better. I’m not going to say it’s turned him into a gold glove first baseman, but his footwork has improved and he’s more agile for obvious reasons. As for at the plate, his swing looks much better. It isn’t quite as forced. The bat speed is better, his hips are better and the ball still comes off his bat. Again, it’s batting practice. He moves more like an athlete.
Does this translate into game success? No. But it’s certainly a start.
We will talk with Montero on Friday.
Willie Bloomquist, who is recovering from season ending knee surgery, took ground balls at third base and batting practice. He was moving pretty well under controlled conditions. Not sure if that means he’ll be ready by the season. But he looked to moving normally on the knee. Bloomquist’s health and readiness for the season is a major storyline this spring. Because if he is healthy and ready to go, there’s a chance that the loser of the shortstop battle between Brad Miller and Chris Taylor could wind up in Class AAA.
Also Miller hasn’t cut his hair since May. He now appears to be channeling Keanu Reeves at the end of Point Break.