Mariner LogoHello Sports fans! A few weeks ago my good friend Chris Finn and I were talking about making the trek to Peoria, Arizona where the Seattle Mariners have Spring Training every year. Though we had talked of going a number of times in the past, this time there was a steely resolve in Chris’s eye when he spoke of it. Having seen that look in Chris’s eye before, though it really was not in my schedule to go, I somehow knew this was the year I would wind up in Arizona in the middle of March. That being the case I was not surprised when Chris called me shortly after we discussed the idea informing me that it was settled; we, along with our mutual good friend Tim Stoner, would all be going to Spring Training for a 3 day weekend of baseball and sun in Peoria, Arizona…and so here we are. As I write this I am sitting in our hotel room at 11:30 pm, on Friday, March 15. We have just completed our first day here at Seattle Mariners Spring Training…so I thought I would give you a report…
Tim and Mark at Tempe Diablo stadium

Tim and Mark at Tempe Diablo stadium

Tim and I hit town late last night flying in from Seattle while Chris drove east across the desert to get here from San Diego where he had been on business. Chris picked us up from the airport and after taking several wrong turns we finally got to our hotel and to bed about 1AM. Got up bright and early and looked out the window at a clear blue sky and what looked to be a great day for baseball. The Mariners were playing a split squad game, which means they divide up the team and play two games. The first would be in the afternoon in Tempe against the Angels at their stadium and the second would be in the evening at the Mariners home stadium in Peoria. We hopped out to Tempe, which is very close to our hotel, and bought our tickets for the afternoon game and then dashed on out to Peoria to see if we could catch the Mariners at their morning practice before the game.

Chris with Jose...young minor league pitcher from Nicauragua

Chris with Jose…young minor league pitcher from Nicauragua

By the time we got to Peoria, which is a ways from Tempe as well as our hotel, the practice was almost over but we got familiar with where the team holds its practices in the morning so we will be able to see them on Saturday and Sunday. We also got to see a bunch of the Mariners Minor League players at practice. They are a very personable bunch and very willingly stop to talk with you or to sign autographs when they are done with their work or are walking to different practice fields. We met one young player in particular, a young pitcher from Nicaragua whose name was Jose (I did not get his last name), who stopped and answered some questions and talked with us. Jose is a great guy…he is living his dream of making it to “the show”, but he has had some bumps along the road. Though only twenty one he has already had some arm trouble and required “Tommy John” surgery to repair his elbow. He showed us his scar. Jose says his arm is great now and that he can still hum his fastball at 94 miles an hour. We wished him luck and shook his hand and I got a great picture of Chris with him. (Tim was originally in the picture too but his eyes were shut in the picture so I cropped him out. If Jose turns into a star Tim will regret that)

We then took off to catch the game at Tempe against the Angels. The Mariners showed that propensity for home runs that they have displayed all spring hitting three more dingers while winning the game 8 to 5. Justin Smoak went yard hitting a 3-2 pitch for an opposite field home run…he definitely looks improved from what I can see. Despite Smoak’s homer, the hitting star of the game was a relatively unknown player, at least to me, named Julio Morban. Julio hit two long two run homers, one in the second inning and one in the eighth. The Mariner starter was Jeremy Bonderman. He went four innings if I recall correctly and except for the second inning when he gave up two runs he looked good. His curve ball especially looked sharp.

Justin Smoak congratulated after homering

Justin Smoak congratulated after homering

After the game we went back to the hotel, grabbed a nap and then took off to Peoria to catch the evening game. Like I said, it is a bit of a drive to get to Peoria and when we got there it was twenty minutes before game time. We hadn’t eaten dinner and decided to forsake the first couple of innings of the game to go sample the fare at that famous Arizona Spring Training watering hole located hard by the Peoria Sports complex…The Salty Senorita. I had heard Mariner announcer Rick Rizzs conducting a show from their once a couple weeks ago and you could hear the crowd buzz in the background. Even over the radio the place sounded wild…but it doesn’t really prepare you for the real thing. The best way I can describe The Salty Senorita is that it is a cross between a 1980s “pick up” bar, a Wild West saloon and the cantina scene from “Star Wars”. The place was packed and the service slow but no one cared. When our waitress finally appeared Chris decided he wanted to get her to pose for a picture between Tim and himself. The waitress, who was quite pretty, took one look at Chris and, obviously mis-reading his intentions, muttered something under her breath and fled the scene. I told Chris not to worry; that, except for this blog, what happens at The Salty Senorita stays at The Salt Senorita. Fortunately for us the waitress wasn’t blown off for good and still brought us our food. My steak burrito was delicious.

The Salty Senorita

The Salty Senorita

We finally made it to the stadium during the bottom of the second inning. The Mariners were playing the Netherlands national team that is currently involved in the World Baseball Classic. The Netherland team was already ahead three to one when we got there; a lead that expanded to six to one by the eighth inning. Contrary to the afternoon game, in this game the Mariners did not hit well. Dustin Ackley had a 2 for 4 night with an RBI double and Carlos Peguero launched a ringing double in the 5th inning I believe, but that was about it for the offense. Pitching wise John Garland started and was roughed up in the first for three runs, his toughest outing of the Spring thus far. Mariner reliever Lucas Luetge was sharp in the two innings that he pitched. I also was able to get a number of great photos of the players in action, which I always love.

Peoria Sports Complex: Seattle Mariners Spring Training home

Peoria Sports Complex: Seattle Mariners Spring Training home

While the game was not that good, the atmosphere at the stadium was fantastic and the weather absolutely perfect. A new moon hung over the stadium the whole game, lending its aesthetic to the evening’s proceedings. Tim, Chris and I had an absolute blast and look forward to tomorrow; our second day at Seattle Mariners Spring Training. We intend to make it to practice this time, hopefully seeing Felix Hernandez work out in the bullpen.

Signing off for now from Peoria…your Spring Training reporter…..Mark Arnold!

Copyright © 2013
By Mark Arnold
All Rights Reserved
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