Alright, sorry for the delay in getting the stuff from today’s Seattle Mariners spring luncheon posted to the blog. We were provided lunch afterward and we sat with new Director of Amateur scouting Tom McNamara, which was pretty cool, he told us plenty of stories, including running against Ichiro in a 60-yard dash as a workout and seeing a young Chris Snelling in Australia.
After lunch, I ran over to Jimmy’s on First Avenue to do a little radio time with Ian Furness and Jason Puckett from KJR. You can listen to that HERE.
Enough of the peripheral stuff. Let’s get down to business. Before I get into greater detail, here’s 10 things I took away from the luncheon:
1. The Mariners all healthy going into spring training, specifically Erik Bedard, Jeff Clement, Adrian Beltre and Carlos Silva, who is apparently trimmer.
2. Brandon Morrow will not be moved back to a reliever. Everything we heard is that Morrow will vie for a spot in the rotation.
3. Aaron Heilman will get a shot at starting. But he’ll be joining a crowded group with Bedard, Felix Hernandez, Morrow, Jarrod Washburn, Carlos Silva, Ryan Rowland-Smith and Miguel Batista. Heilman may get the chance to win a spot in spring training, but will probably end up in the bullpen.
4. If the season started tomorrow, the outfield lineup would be Endy Chavez in left, Franklin Gutierrez in center and Ichiro in right with Wlad as the fourth outfielder. Um, that’s not lot of power right there, but the starters might be the fleetest group in the majors.
5. Everyone in the organization loves catching prospect Adam Moore. He got raves from several people there including director of minor league operations Pedro Grifol and Zduriencik. Locally, fans will be pleased to know that Moore will start the season here in Tacoma with the Rainiers.
6. Catcher Kenji Johijma, who will miss much of the early spring training while training in Japan with the Japanese WBC team will fly to Arizona before it starts to meet with manager Don Wakamatsu.
7. The odds of Ken Griffey Jr. coming back seem slim. Zduriencik wouldn’t comment on any free agents for obvious reasons, but his comment about "taking emotion out of signings" seems to speak of Griffey.
8. The same goes for last year’s first round draft pick Josh Fields. Zduriencik wouldn’t say if he’s any closer. But it seems as though the Mariners have put their offer out there, take it or leave it.
9. Mariners director of amateur scouting Tom McNamara admitted the upcoming draft is pitcher-heavy and said they’ll take the best player available with the No. 2 pick. He also didn’t have a preference to college or high school, only talent. But he did say that if the Mariners took a high school player at No. 2, "he would have to be a very special player."
10. Morrow will not close, Mark Lowe wants to close, Roy Corcoran wants to close, Tyler Walkers can close and probably wants to close, David Aardsma might have the stuff to close, but not the command, Aaron Heilman prefers not to close and nobody can seem to get a hold of Miguel Batista. So that’s the closing scenario. Want to be a manager?
Here’s some notes from Mariners’ Rick Griffin’s meeting with the media.
He discussed the five Mariners who had offseason surgeries. Here’s what we know – all of the players are doing well and should have "no restrictions heading into spring training."
Jeff Clement – surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. He’s hitting, running and throwing and squatting already. He’s heading to spring training a few 10 days early to work with Roger Hansen.
Erik Bedard – surgery on his throwing shoulder. Griffin just returned from spending time in Ontario with him. He started throwing on Dec. 10th. He’s throwing three days a week, and threw flat ground bullpen while Griffin was there. They are now putting together a throwing plan for off the mound with Bedard throwing at least five off-the-mound bullpens before spring training. "As of now, he shouldn’t have any restrictions," Griffin said once Bedard makes it to spring training.
Mike Morse – reconstructive shoulder surgery on his left shoulder after dislocating it six games into the season. He’s ready to go. "I was very proud of the effort he gave in rehab," Griffin said. "It’s very tough to rehab while your team is still playing. Morse was healthy enough to play winter ball where he hit .310 (48-for-155) with a nine doubles, eight home runs, 30 RBIs. He had an OBP of .353 and a slugging of .523, while playing in 41 games.
Adrian Beltre – surgery on his left shoulder to clean out some bone spurs on his AC (acromioclavicular joint) and surgery to repair ligament damage on his left thumb. Beltre is in California working out. Beltre’s already swinging the bat and preparing to play in the World Baseball Classic. (More on that later).
Bryan LaHair – offseason hernia repair right after the season was over. The hernia was actually a minor tear and he played with it much of last season, but Griffin said that wasn’t a reason behind LaHair’s lack of power. But the Mariners are trying to increase LaHair’s power with some more strenuous offseason lifting and the minor hernia wouldn’t have allowed that – hence the reason for the repair.
As for other queries to Griffin, the first was about Carlos Silva and his supposed weight loss.
"He’s lost a lot of weight, he’s in very good shape," Griffin said. "He says he’s going to surprise me and I’m looking forward to being pleasantly surprised."
Apparently Silva has either a trainer, a therapist or a yoga instructor visit house daily. Yoga instructor? Yes, it’s for flexibility and possibly comedy. The thought of Silva doing a downward dog or a blossoming lotus is frightening. But yoga has been shown to provide much core strength and flexibility that could prevent the back issues that he had. That and the 45 extra pounds he was carrying.
Griffin wouldn’t say how much weight Silva’s lost, but said it was more than 20 pounds.
And make no mistake, the added weight Silva gained – Jim Riggleman called him a "hippo" was the main problem.
"I think of all the problems he experienced last year that were related not being in as condition as he could’ve been," Griffin said. "I don’t think that’s going to be a problem this year."
In other news, Felix Hernandez has already gotten to Peoria and is working out and is looking fit as ever. Part of the reason for this is the World Baseball Classic. Felix is pitching for Venezuela and bumped up his offseason schedule to prepare.
One other thing Griffin mentioned is the status of Phillippe Aumont playing in the WBC. The rule is that if a player has missed more than 45 days because of injury, he might not be "insurable" to play. Aumont missed significant time because of an elbow strain last season and may not play with the Canadian team.
While we’re on the subject, later in the meeting GM Jack Zduriencik said the Mariners were meeting later in the day to discuss Aumont playing in the WBC. While he never came out and said it, his tone along with Griffin’s earlier comments made it sound like he won’t be playing.