Felix Hernandez will have his press conference at Safeco Field this afternoon, but down here in Arizona, the rest of his pitching and catching teammates are preparing for their first workout of spring training. The team is presently meeting with manager Eric Wedge and the coaching staff in the clubhouse. Among those taking the field at 8:30 a.m. PT will be Joe Saunders, recently signed to shore-up the middle of the rotation following the departure of Jason Vargas for the Angels.
Saunders, 31, is coming off a 2012 season in which he was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles and actually started — and won — the inagural wild-card play-in game against the Texas Rangers at Camden Yards last October.
“It was a lot of fun,” Saunders said. “It was nerve-wracking as heck. My numbers in that ballpark obviously weren’t very good. It was just another…you look at it asanother opportunity to prove people wrong. I just tried to go out there and give the team a chance to win. We won that game and then we took the Yankees to five games and lost in New York. It was a fun run.”
Saunders has had the opportunity to pitch in several post-seasons already between his time with the Angels, the Diamondbacks and the Orioles.
“I’ve been fortunate enough in my career to be in the post-season five times,” he added. “It’s definitely a great opportunity, you cherish it. Each and every time you get there, you want to get back there again because you never know when it’s going to come again. So, you just kind of relish it and do everything you can.”
Which sort of begs the question of why Saunders chose to come to Seattle, which has not made the playoffs since 2001. Saunders did, after all, have a chance to go back to Baltimore and was courted by several teams.
“I liked where this organization was going,” he said. “I thought they made some good moves, some good trades. I’m familliar with the division and hoping to have some fun. Try to take another team, hopefully, to the post-season, so we’ll see where it goes.”More