Mariners take down Padres in front-office softball war
We’re still four days away from the Spring Training opener between the Mariners and Padres, but the two clubs got things started early Wednesday with a softball grudge match between front-office staffers from the neighboring teams in the Peoria Sports Complex.
And if you’re a Seattle fan looking for good omens, here you go. The Mariners came from behind for a 7-4 win against a Padres team that included a few front-office ringers in the form of former Major Leaguers Brad Ausmus, Mark Loretta and A.J. Hinch.
Hinch, 36, played seven years in the big leagues as a catcher and was the Diamondbacks manager for parts of the past two years. He’s now working for the Padres as their VP of pro scouting.
Ausmus, 41, just retired following an 18-year catching career in the Majors as a three-time Gold Glove winner and one-time All-Star. He’s now working as special assistant to Padres GM Jed Hoyer.
Loretta, 39, was a two-time All-Star infielder during his 15-year career and now works as a special assistant in the Padres baseball operations department.
Hinch played first base in this showdown, while Ausmus patroled left field and Loretta was in left center.
The Padres didn’t even use all their front office ringers, as a guy actually named Alex Rodriguez is listed as a coordinator of event operations for the club. But there were no A-Rod or Cameron Diaz sightings at this game. Nor was popcorn being sold.
Still, San Diego’s team came with a combined 40 years of Major League experience, three Gold Gloves and three All-Star appearances.
The Mariners countered with a team led by assistant general manager Jeff Kingston, who never played in the Majors, but did earn an Economics degree from Dickinson College.
The Seattle club also had Suzuki in center field, but it was Antony Suzuki, Ichiro’s interpreter, instead of the 10-time All-Star.
Kingston previously worked for the Padres for nine years, so he obviously brought a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He also brought his own ringer, Isaac Ruiz, a clubhouse assistant for the Peoria Mariners Rookie League team who was recruited at the last minute.
Credit Kingston for his eye for talent as Ruiz wound up hitting the game-winning three-run home run and also spent much of the contest running down deep fly balls to left field off the bats of the Padres’ potent lineup.
Kingston picked up the victory on the mound for the Mariners team, which consisted mostly of assorted front-office members. The losing pitcher was Padres media relations director Warren Miller, who worked for the Mariners baseball information department until 2007.
The Mariners current baseball information office produced a release on the big victory that included a quote from Kingston:
“It was a great team effort. Good results can happen when you play team baseball,” Kingston said. “Everybody did their job and the result was what we expected. We didn’t have any Major Leaguers on our team, but we came out winners.”
Who says the Mariners and Padres aren’t great natural rivals?
In case you were wondering, the game was played on one of the Mariners practice fields on their side of the Peoria complex. The announced attendance, per the Mariners press release, was 6.