March 2012

Favorite photos of the week from Peoria

It’s the rare off day here in Peoria — in fact, the only off day all spring for the Mariners — as Eric Wedge gave the boys a respite before Cactus League games begin Friday.

That gave me a chance to go through the photo file this morning and I’ll share a couple shots that I liked from the past few days. Bear in mind that I’m a writer by trade, so taking pictures is a new endeavor that I’m enjoying as part of the new world of do-it-all journalism.

For the most part, I’m just happy to get decent face shots of players to run with feature stories, so needless to say I was thrilled to actually hit on a nice action shot yesterday of Kyle Seager sliding into third base with a triple in the first inning of the intrasquad game. Chalk this up to the old “blind squirrel” theory as I happened to be writing this feature on Seager and everything fell into place!

The big story of the week, of course, was Franklin Gutierrez’s injury — a partially torn pectoral muscle in his right chest — that is is going to sideline him for four weeks before he can even begin swinging a bat and starting baseball drills again. I’d expect it’ll be at least six weeks before he can even think about playing, so that means missing at least the first couple weeks of action.

Tough blow for  a guy who looked so good coming back to camp and hit a home run off Felix Hernandez in the first intrasquad game.

Not all the news was somber, of course. Pretty much any time Brendan Ryan is around, the good times are rolling. Particularly when he’s feeling healthy himself, which he was Thursday when he made the defensive play of the intrasquad game and showed everyone his throwing arm appears fully healed.

I took this picture before Thursday’s workout began when Ryan was pretending to be a left-handed pitcher on the mound. Apparently his left arm works just fine, too.

Obviously it’s been a busy week for trainer Rick Griffin, who is talking here to a rather bemused manager Eric Wedge.

General manager Jack Zduriencik has been taking in everything, of course. He’s a constant presence around the batting cages and bullpens, watching how things are coming together.

Among the young players to watch is third baseman Francisco Martinez, the 22-year-old acquired in the Doug Fister trade. He’s not ready for the Majors yet, but keep an eye on his development this year.

And one of the most-interesting storylines of this camp continues to be Japanese shortstop Munenori Kawasaki. He’s a live wire with a lot of natural leadership skills and it’ll be interesting to see what sort of role he plays this year, both on and off the field.

His teammates are helping Kawasaki feel at home and learn the American way. This was one of my favorite scenes of the week, as non-roster pitching candidate Jeff Marquez spent a couple minutes in the outfield teaching Kawasaki some intricate fist-bump handshake routine that left the newcomer laughing after they parted ways.

So that was some of the scenes this week. Now we get into “real” practice games, starting with Friday’s Cactus League opener against the A’s at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. The Mariners will play every day from then until we head to Japan on March 22. And, of course, you can get all the news — and even some of my photos when I get them in focus! — every day on Mariners.com.

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