About 48 hours before the opening night game with Oakland, Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge met with the media and chatted amiably about any number of topics – although his usual caution remained.
How tight-lipped is the skipper? He declined to say who his closer was – he mentioned Brandon League, Chris Ray and Jamey Wright - or who would start in center field in place of Franklin Gutierrez.
“I haven’t told them, and I’m not going to tell you until I have,” Wedge said. “We’ll deal with it all tomorrow and let you know.”
Ugh – a man with his priorities straight.
Wedge said there’s always a ‘buzz’ for a team leaving spring training after six weeks, and that playing in a big–league ball park brings with it a certain feel.
Ask minor league catcher Steven Baron, one of a half dozen extra players brought to Dodgers Stadium for tonight’s game.
“Beautiful ball park,” he said after seeing it. “I really hope I get to play tonight.”
In town preparing for an ESPN broadcast tomorrow night – Dodgers vs. Giants – Bobby Valentine and Orel Hershiser hung out behind the batting cage They spent time talking to two former Mariners, now Dodgers coaches: Jeff Pentland and Dave Hansen.
When someone asked Wedge what his most pleasent surprise of the camp was, he didn’t hestitate.
“Watching Erik Bedard pitch free and easy,” he said. “He’s healthy again, and it’s nice to watch him work. This game is hard to play when everything’s right, when you’re hurt it’s just about impossible to compete at this level. It’s good to see him healthy again.”
Asked how many wins the Mariners would have in 2011 – the kind of question every manager hates – Wedge was diplomatic.
“We’ll be a better team,” he said. “There’s still a lot of work here, we’ll continue to edge forward. These guys understand the approach we want, and as long as they do, we’ll keep improving.”