When the alarm went off at 5 am at my North End townhouse, the rain was pounding on my window.
When I stepped off the plane at 10:30 am in Phoenix, it was 82 degrees with nary a cloud in sight.
It’s one of my favorite trips of the year – the annual four-day pilgrimage to Peoria, Arizona to check out Mariners spring training.
People always ask me if I am looking forward to the season starting. I’m usually pretty ambivalent about it – until I get to Arizona. For me, this is the trip that signifies the start of the new season, and that the six months of fun has begun.
This trip started the same way the last ten did: I got off the plane, rented a car, and it automatically drove me straight to In ‘N’ Out Burger. I don’t know what it is about the rental cars at Sky Harbor Airport, but they are all programmed to go straight to In ‘N’ Out.
I obliged by crushing a Double-Double – but not before taking a photo of the burger and picture-mailing it to a few friends back home. Mean-spirited? Yeah, a little.
I typically spend my time at the minor league fields, in the back of the Peoria complex. But this year the only major league home game while I am here was today, so I am typing this from the press box during the Cubs-Mariners major league game. I think the players are ready to go home – the game is not one hour old, and they’ve completed five innings! It’s like the last game of the PCL season out there; everybody’s hacking.
I did get a chance to corner Mariners PR Guru (and former Rainiers intern) Jeff Evans to try to straighten out the Yusmeiro Petit situation. To summarize, the former Diamondbacks pitcher was claimed on waivers during the winter, spent some time on the Mariners 40-man roster, then was outrighted to the minors, clearing waivers. This was before spring training – he was then invited to major league camp.
Earlier this month, the Mariners announced that they released Petit from his contract. Petit spent a little bit of time as a free agent, but then re-upped with the Mariners on a Triple-A deal.
So, that’s all a very confusing way of saying that it seems likely Petit will break camp with the Rainiers next Thursday.
After the game I’ll catch up with manager Daren Brown, and see if he’s willing to share any news. He might not have much yet – he’s still working with the major league team! Triple-A games have been going on for 10 days, but Brown has not yet been asked to go out there and actually manage his team.
This is a good thing for Brown – Wakamatsu and the major league staff like having him around – but soon he’ll have to head out to the back fields and see his own team play. There are going to be some tough decisions; there are too many Triple-A players in this camp right now.
And that’s where I’ll be the next three days. The Rainiers will play Oklahoma City out on one of the back diamonds tomorrow, and I’ll be sitting in the bleachers getting a look at some of the new guys like Petit, Tommy Everidge, Ezequiel Carrera, Eliezer Alfonzo, and Levale Speigner, while getting caught up with some of the returning players.