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February 16, 2013 at 9:06 AM
Michael Morse was sitting in the clubhouse rocking out to some tunes this morning and getting ready for his second act with a Mariners team that traded him to Washington for Ryan Langerhans back in 2009. Much has changed for Morse since he left. Back then, his spring training locker was in a rear section of the clubhouse and he largely stayed in the background, letting more established teammates be front and center.
Nowadays, Morse controls the clubhouse music. His locker is where Ichiro’s used to be and there’s a side buffer locker to his right that handles the overflow between him and Franklin Gutierrez (who has the end locker where Chone Figgins used to be). So, Morse is now big in clubhouse stature as well as in the lineup, where he’ll occupy the third or fourth spot.
“I got a chance to play,” Morse said.
Indeed he did. He nearly got that same chance in 2008 before diving for a fly ball and tearing the labrum his shoulder. I asked him whether he ever thinks things might have gone differently for him had he not been hurt.
“I’m a big believer in things happening for a reason,” he said. “I don’t like to look back on it or question it. I just know that good things have happened for me since I had the chance to play and I’m in a good situation right now.”
Morse owns at-shirt company 22 Fresh and today brought in a version he had made up yesterday. It reads: I love Japanese pitching and has a heart-shaped logo where the word “love” would be. The first person he showed it to was Antony Suzuki, interpreter for Hisashi Iwakuma.
“I think I’m going to have them made up for everybody except him,” Morse said with a smile, in reference to Iwakuma. “For him, I’ll maybe get one that says ‘I love American hitters’.”
Across the locker row, Raul Ibanez was preparing for his third go-around with the Mariners.
February 7, 2013 at 5:53 PM
The Mariners look to have found the replacement for Jason Vargas, reportedly agreeing to a one-year deal with free-agent pitcher Joe Saunders pending a physical. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the move.
Saunders, as we wrote last week, fills a left-handed need in Seattle’s rotation with a pitcher similar to Vargas in terms of how he gets his outs. Both give up their share of flyballs and struck out a mediocre total of about 5.8 batters per nine innings apiece in 2012.
With the fences coming in at Safeco Field, we’ll see how the dimensions impact Saunders, who got tagged for a .302 average and .849 OPS by right-handed hitters last year. Safeco Field used to help Vargas by knocking down some of his flyballs, especially those hit by right-handed batters.
Interestingly enough, as colleague Larry Stone points out, Saunders is 6-0 with a 2.13 ERA lifetime at Safeco Field. The downside to that, of course, is that he was beating up on some bad Mariners teams with a strong Angels squad behind him helping him do it.
So, like I said, we’ll see.
December 19, 2012 at 5:27 PM
Well, the big question to come out of today’s acquisition by the Mariners of Kendrys Morales was whether or not he’d be able to play first base on a regular basis. He played there only 28 games last season of his 134 total with the Angels in his comeback from breaking his leg back in 2010.
Morales, 29, in a conference call minutes ago, said through interpreter Luis Garcia that this off-season is the strongest he’s felt since his injury and that he is back to 100 percent physically. When asked about playing first base regularly, he had this to say.
“At this point, I think I’m 100 percent,” he said. “I’m ready to play every day. Obviously, that’s not my decision. But at the end of the day, I’m confident knowing that I’m 100 percent ready to play first base every day if that’s what’s needed.”
So, we’ll see where the Mariners go from here with that.
December 10, 2012 at 3:35 PM
Jason Bay insists that he truly does not believe his problems with concussions were the real reason behind the sub-par numbers that he put up for three seasons with the New York Mets. Bay had trouble staying on the field during his three years in the Big Apple and the Mariners had him checked out by three different doctors prior to signing his one-year, $1-million deal to play here.
“I’ve had a lot of people, coaches, try to convince me that it has,” Bay said of concussions impacting his play, “Maybe 15 or 20 years from now, they’ll come out with a study that says it does A, B, or C. I don’t feel like it did. All it really did, I felt, is that I lost more time. It was never ‘Man, before I had that I was faster’…none of that. I had played for the first six years of my career, every day. And I think that was the hardest part. Understanding that. It had nothing to do with that (concussions). It was just the time away.”
So, I asked him, what can he do — if anything — to prevent concussions from sidelining him yet again in Seattle?
“I think right now it’s not more the reccurence, but the maintenance,” he said. “It’s basically the protocol. Guys get banged up all the time. If you look at football or any sport…football by definition, it should happen a hundred times a play. For the first time, I missed quite a bit of time because it was really new and we didn’t know what we were doing and we weren’t really pro-active about it. We were just kind of waiting and waiting and waiting. When we kind of figured out how to attack it and look after the neck and stuff, I felt great instantly. And the second time, that’s what we did.
“So, I think it’s more the protocol. And we know more now, so we’re being extra cautious.”
Still, what is it about Seattle that leads Bay to believe he’ll have more success here than in New York?
“I think it’s just the fresh start,” he said. “I’ve had a few really good hitting coaches and sometimes with just a fresh pair of eyes and a fresh perspective, you kind of wipe the slate clean. Regardless of where I was going, whether it was here or anywhere else…that was kind of the number one thing I was looking forward to — starting over. You’re just kind of swimming upstream for so long that you’re not getting anywhere. And that’s basically it. Just trying to start fresh.”