Only Black Smoke In Peoria

We’ve reached a quiet time in spring training.

Position players are starting to get into a groove, re-accustomed to the daily baseball routine. Starting pitchers are beginning to stretch out a bit, working deeper into exhibition games.

The flood of roster cuts hasn’t happened yet. Yesterday the Mariners cut their fifth player, sending pitcher Anthony Fernandez to Double-A Jackson. The Mariners still have 56 players in big league camp.

The majority of the fan focus is on the World Baseball Classic. Team USA picked up a nice win yesterday, beating Puerto Rico fairly easily. The US needs to win one of the next two games to advance to the championship round.

It’s around this time when veteran players begin to look toward the start of the season. In another week, they’ll be really antsy to get out of Arizona and get this season started.

On the minor league side of the complex, things are just getting going. The minor leaguers recently reported, and the minor league “exhibition games” (for lack of a better term) begin on Saturday.

I’ll be going down to Arizona to check out Rainiers spring training on March 26, and I’ll watch several games and have detailed reports here as the team takes shape.

Before that happens, I’m taking a quick little vacation before diving into the 2013 season. The Pac-12 basketball tournament moved to Las Vegas this year, and those two things are right up my alley. I love Pac-12 basketball and Las Vegas, and the combination of those two events is a perfect getaway for me.

So, I’m outta here for a few days. I get back in town Monday morning, and our next blog update will be Tuesday the 19th.

Links:

  • Felix Hernandez tossed three nice innings yesterday. They are easing him in slowly – he’ll probably be ready for 6-7 innings by opening day.
  • Brendan Ryan‘s brother helped him with his swing. Move over, Josh Bard’s brother!
  • One of the Mariners original employees from 1977 is retiring.
  • Big news in the Mariners blogosphere: Jeff Sullivan has quit the Lookout Landing site. The funniest writer in baseball will write about the Mariners only sporadically, and when he does it will be at USS Mariner. This is good news for Jeff Sullivan’s sanity, and bad news for our entertainment.
  • An interesting – albeit concerning – story from the Grapefruit League is the struggles of Phillies ace Roy Halladay. Yesterday Halladay got shellacked by Detroit, with former Rainiers infielder Ramon Santiago launching a long grand slam off him. Halladay is a player’s player; almost every pitcher in the game looks up to him.
  • Former Rainiers pitcher Brandon Morrow is progressing down in Blue Jays camp.
  • Link of the day: Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy – who is a bit of a stat-head – gave some serious insight into the importance of team chemistry.
  • Baseball America identified two Class-A teams that should be stacked with prospects come opening day. Depending on how things shake out, we could see a similar story on the Rainiers in a few weeks.
  • I am pleased to report that former Portland Beavers broadcaster Rich Burk has landed as the play-by-play man for the new Hillsboro Hops franchise in the Northwest League. Burk has been the voice of Portland-area baseball for a long time.

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