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Topic: Raul Ibanez

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February 24, 2013 at 3:07 PM

Mariners, Raul Ibanez run up score early for second straight win

For the second day in a row, the Mariners blew the San Diego Padres up early and cruised to a relatively easy 8-3 victory. Raul Ibanez did the damage today with a three-run homer off former Seattle and Yankees teammate Freddy Garcia in a five-run first inning that decided things from the get-go.

Michael Saunders and Michael Morse added doubles in the inning as the Mariners took a 5-0 lead. Then, after the Padres scored a run in the fourth, the Mariners ran up the score with three more runs in the fifth. Seattle finished the day with seven doubles among 16 hits.

Mariners congratulate each other on field moments after defeating San Diego Padres 8-3 in Cactus League play on Sunday.

Erasmo Ramirez turned in a scoreless first inning, allowing just one hit, while James Paxton retired three in a row in the second inning after giving up a leadoff single.

For Ibanez, the home run was similar to what Jason Bay did early on in Saturday’s game with a two-run shot. The two veterans were brought to town for their leadership ability, but also because the Mariners feel they can still play. Ibanez has always hit right-handed pitching well and wasted little time against Garcia, who he teamed with in New York last year.

“I was just looking for a pitch that I could hit hard somewhere,” said Ibanez, who finished 2-for-3 with the homer, a single, three RBI and a run scored . “I thought he might throw something else. With him, he throws so many different pitches — he’s got a great forkball, split thing and I though he might throw it there, and he did.”

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Comments | More in Cactus League | Topics: Erasmo Ramirez, eric wedge, Raul Ibanez

February 16, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Mariners outfielders get their work in, both at plate and in field

Most of the interesting new additions by the Mariners this winter came in the outfield. So, I’ve got some video for you to see of this morning’s first full-squad workout by the team and it naturally features the outfielders. You can see Michael Morse, Raul Ibanez, Jason Bay and others working on the fielding of ground balls in the first segment.

Later, there are shots of Morse, Ibanez and Kendrys Morales taking batting practice. Morse had the best drive of the day, a towering shot over the batter’s eye in dead center. I did not get footage of that, but did capture a few of the bombs hit by various guy. The last part of the footage shows Morse getting work in at third base. Remember, the Mariners are only planning to carry one full-time backup infielder in Robert Andino this year. After that, Morse will be used at third base and Kyle Seager at shortstop if Andino is otherwise occupied and some pinch-hitters/pinch-runners are required late.

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Comments | More in spring training | Topics: batting practice, kendrys morales, michael morse

February 16, 2013 at 9:06 AM

Michael Morse, Raul Ibanez embark on encore acts with Mariners this morning

Michael Morse is now much bigger in clubhouse stature — and in the lineup — than when he left Seattle in 2009.

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.

What changed?

“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.

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Comments | More in spring training | Topics: fences, michael morse, Raul Ibanez

December 27, 2012 at 10:04 AM

Relax on the Raul Ibanez proclamations until we see what additional moves the Mariners have planned

Raul Ibanez put up an OPS of .812 against right-handed pitching in 2012, a split the Mariners hope to benefit from in 2013. Photo Credit: AP

Figured it wouldn’t take long for the Raul Ibanez signing to generate some angst in the local fanbase. Yes, I know, he’s 40 years old and he plays positions that the Mariners have some much younger guys slotted for. He’s not Josh Hamilton and he’s not Nick Swisher.

Here’s the thing, though. Ibanez is a part-time player now and a pretty good one at that. He is envisioned for part-time roles at multiple positions where the Mariners, quite frankly, need upgrades.

And we’re still only in December. The season begins in April.

Part of the challenge of doing proper baseball analysis is to view each move as a piece to a whole puzzle. And when you take a few deep breaths, consider where the pieces fit, then look at the Ibanez move for what it is, it is pretty easy to envision where it could all head as long as the Mariners hold up their end of the bargain. By that, I mean, as long as the Mariners don’t try to hold Ibanez up alongside Kendrys Morales as the showpiece of their winter moves. If that’s what they try to do come April 1, then by all means, throw an angst party.

Believe me, we’ve been on to that part of the team’s m.o. for some time now. Those of you just figuring that part out, welcome to the party. Yes, the Mariners have money to spend this winter — or so they keep saying — and it’s been difficult watching free agent after free agent sign with other teams when you know they have the OBP, the slugging, whatever, to help a Mariners team in big need of both. No more “Who? Who? Who?” this season, please. Put the owls to sleep. There have been a plethora of guys who could have helped the Mariners via free agency or trade.

And there still are.

I’ve mentioned Michael Bourn before and did it again in today’s paper. I listed his age last night at 29, but he actually turns 30 today, so he’s no spring chicken. Thing is, he still runs like one. He’s an answer to what will soon be a long-term need for the team in center field and he’s a solution for a present need at leadoff.

No, he doesn’t hit a lot of home runs. But we’ve said all winter long that there are various different ways the Mariners can go about bettering their team and this is one of them. Not every guy who looks and plays like Bourn has to turn into Chone Figgins. There are plenty of guys who have looked and played like Bourn who did very well at his age. One of them, Ichiro, even put up great numbers at that age playing home games at Safeco Field.

If not Bourn, the Mariners can try to swing a trade for somebody else. But I mention Bourn simply because the field of competition for him has narrowed, the Mariners will need a center fielder after Franklin Gutierrez’s contract runs out (unless they feel like paying a $7.5 million option in 2014 to a guy who hasn’t had a healthy season since 2008 — remember he had the knee tendinitis in 2009) and they need a real leadoff guy right now. The Mariners also have a glut of potential platoon type guys for the outfield corners and I spelled out for you all at the winter meetings how that could actually work with a guy like Bourn anchoring center field.

Personally, I like the idea of rotating Gutierrez, Michael Saunders and Ibanez around the outfield corners with Jason Bay and/or Casper Wells. Those are much stronger corners than the team had last year, plus, you’d get a huge upgrade in center.

And you’d get that upgrade for years to come.

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Comments | More in Free agents | Topics: Jack Zduriencik, Michael Bourn, Raul Ibanez

December 26, 2012 at 12:26 PM

Mariners announce Raul Ibanez signing, designate minor league pitcher D.J. Mitchell for assignment

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik says Raul Ibanez will be looked at in both outfield corners, at DH and at first base. Photo Credit: AP

They took a while, but the Mariners finally made the Raul Ibanez signing official today along with the corresponding 40-man roster move. Minor league pitcher D.J. Mitchell, acquired in the Ichiro trade back in July, was designated for assignment, meaning the Mariners now have 10 days to trade him, release him or try to outright him through waivers.

Mitchell went 3-2 with a 2.96 ERA in eight starts for Class AAA Tacoma after the deal. He struck out 33 and walked 19over 48 2/3 innings.

We already spoke to Ibanez, 40, a few days ago and gave you his comments on the blog. But I also spoke by phone with GM Jack Zduriencik about the move and what he has in store for Ibanez and the other players who play positions similar to those in his skillset.

“I think what we’re going to do right now is give him a chance to come to camp and compete with our other players already here,” Zduriencik said. “After that, we’ll have a better idea of where this all shakes out.”

Now, Zduriencik isn’t talking about Ibanez winning a job so much as he is one of his younger players holding on to theirs. Ibanez is guaranteed $2.75 million and that’s not as easy to write off as some of those deals he gave to veteran relievers cut in spring training last season. Everybody associated with the Mariners expects Ibanez to make the team and get at least 400 at-bats. Otherwise, he would not have been guaranteed so much money.

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Comments | More in Free agents | Topics: d.j. mitchell, Jack Zduriencik, Jesus Montero

December 23, 2012 at 9:45 AM

Raul Ibanez expects to get look at three or four spots with Mariners

Raul Ibanez had been planning to move family back to Seattle full-time in 2013 regardless of where he played. Photo Credit: AP

Just got done talking to Raul Ibanez, who said he isn’t sure exactly where he’ll get the most playing time this coming season with the Mariners, but does expect to get a fair number of at-bats doing it. Ibanez and the Mariners had talks a year ago when he was also a free agent, but “the opportunity for at-bats just wasn’t there.”

For Ibanez, the at-bats were key because of the leadership role the Mariners expect him to fill in their clubhouse.

“I think the best way to lead is by example,” Ibanez said. “And the best way to lead by example is by actually having the opportunity to get out there and produce.”

Ibanez said the Mariners have talked to him about playing left field, but also in right, where he played extensively with the Phillies and Yankees after leaving the Mariners following the 2008 season.

They also talked about Ibanez serving as a DH, as well as at first base, where Ibanez played a fair bit when with the Royals earlier last decade.

“They mentioned to me that if I can play first base, they might need it,” he said. “I can play first base, I’ve done it before so we’llsee what winds up happening.”

The Mariners, as I’d suspected last week, did not go hard after Nick Swisher once they traded for first baseman Kendrys Morales. Swisher has reportedly agreed to a four-year, $56 million deal with the Cleveland Indians, a contract much lower than he was initially expected to garner.

But much of Swisher’s value to the Mariners would have been his ability to move back and forth between right field and first base. Once Morales took care of their first base needs, the team opted to go the cheaper route with Ibanez as a fallback option there and as a left-handed hitting corner outfield platoon option — rather than paying Swisher $14 million per season to play right on a full-time basis. We discussed much of this scenario during the winter meetings, when we broke the news that the Mariners had contacted Ibanez’s agent. The Mariners have an opportunity to upgrade the outfield corners on a piecemeal basis, rather than one big splash.

And this can make a whole lot of sense, as long as the team deploys its financial resources in other areas. Just making small moves like this and then standing pat won’t help all that much since the Ibanez and Morales acquisitions are only guaranteed for one year and don’t help the team get better long term — at least not yet. But the winter is not over yet and there is still time — and obviously plenty of money left over — for the Mariners to make a more impact move that could help now and down the road.

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Comments | More in Free agents | Topics: Jack Zduriencik, nick swisher, Raul Ibanez

December 22, 2012 at 6:12 PM

Raul Ibanez signs a one-year deal, returns to Mariners for third go-around

Raul Ibanez signed a one-year deal with the Mariners for a reported $2.75 million with an additional $1.25 million in incentives. Photo Credit: AP

When we told you back at the winter meetings that the Mariners were talking to Raul Ibanez, I did not think the team would sign both him and Jason Bay. But apparently, I was wrong.

The Mariners just agreed to a one-year, major league deal with Ibanez. The deal is worth a reported $2.75 million with $1.25 million in incentive bonuses.

He will be looked at as an option in both outfield corners, as a designated hitter and as a possible first base option if the team needed one.

No one knows yet exactly how any of this will shake down. The plan is for Ibanez to come into spring training and compete for a spot and where he winds up will depend largely on how some of the team’s younger players perform.

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Comments | More in Free agents | Topics: Raul Ibanez

December 4, 2012 at 5:32 PM

Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, Jason Bay, Raul Ibanez…what does it all mean for the Mariners?

Writers from several countries in the media room at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, site of the baseball winter meetings.

Got it confirmed from a source late this afternoon that the Mariners have indeed contacted the agent for Raul Ibanez about a possible return to Seattle for a third go-around with his initial franchise. Ibanez spent last season with the New York Yankees and hit some pretty big post-season home runs for them.

Earlier today, I confirmed through a different source that the Mariners were “close” to a deal with Jason Bay. Remember, being “close” is not the same as being “done” so let’s not pencil anyone into the lineup just yet.

But what the heck is going on? Ibanez is 40. Bay is 34. Not exactly a youth movement.

And then, there was the report by Jon Heyman of CBS earlier today that the Mariners are going hard after free agent center fielder Michael Bourn. While I have not directly confirmed that via a source, I can tell you that Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik did nothing to dissuade me from thinking he was going after Bourn when I questioned him in front of other Seattle writers about whether upgrading with an established leadoff hitter had entered his thought process. Zduriencik actually smiled and wondered aloud where I could possibly be going with the questioning, which had everyone else in the room laughing as well.

Like I said, he did nothing to throw anyone off the trail.

So, is there a tie-in between Bourn and the Mariners shopping for the likes of Bay and Ibanez?

I think there just may be. In fact, if the Mariners do ink an older, lower-cost bat, it will spell the end of the team seeking two higher-priced additions. Instead, the Mariners might choose to go after one prize on the bigger end of the scale — which would explain all the increased chatter we’re hearing about Bourn, Josh Hamilton and Nick Swisher lately.

All along, it’s been assumed the Mariners might upgrade with one new player for the outfield and a second one who could play first base and DH.

But given the pricetags we’ve seen so far — in both dollars and trade return requests — for that plan to pan out, what would stop the Mariners from bringing in two outfielders, one of them premium and the other at a lesser cost? Nothing, replied Zduriencik, adding that it’s a possibility

 Then, he threw this in there:

“Sometimes, you get the multiple-position guy who can play the outfield and first base.”

And for me, that opens up a whole different avenue to explore.

The Mariners won’t sign both Bay and Ibanez. It would have to be one or the other.

But here’s why they would.

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Comments | Topics: free agents, Jason Bay, Michael Bourn