The Seattle Mariners are breaking out of a spring training camp that began six weeks ago and produced a 25-man roster today.
Along the way, there were pleasent surprises and disappointments, long shots made and promise shown.
Promises made? Dustin Ackley showed no major league pitching overwhelmed him, and that some time this season the Mariners can expect him to become a line-drive-hitting second baseman.
Disappointments? Hard-throwing rookie Dan Cortes couldn’t harness his fastball, and velocity without command ruined his chances of returning to the Seattle bullpen.
Pleasent surprises? Did anyone really think Erik Bedard would sail through camp pitching well and staying completely healthy? Probably not, but he has. And then there’s Class A invitee Tom Wilhelmsen, who’s personal journey to the big leagues is a television movie in the making.
Longest shot in camp: Not Wilhelmsen, but veteran outfielder Milton Bradley. Most fans wanted him released before spring training began and much of the media said he should be dumped before on-or-off-field disasters enveloped the clubhouse. Six weeks later, Bradley is the opening day No. 3 hitter in Seattle’s lineup – a complete professional on and off the field.
Biggest disappointment: Gold Glove center fielder Franklin Gutierrez could never stay or get healthy, limited to nine spring games by a stomach ailment that forced him to miss the final series of the 2010 season. He’ll open on the disabled list and, worse, neither he nor the team has yet determined what’s causing the problem.
Didn’t see that coming move: Eric Wedge moving Jack Wilson to second base and Brendan Ryan to shortstop. And then two utility infielders – Adam Kennedy and Luis Rodriguez – each making the 25-man roster. Yikes!