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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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February 13, 2008 10:28 AM

Field of dreams?

Posted by Geoff Baker

Bedard 012.jpg

UPDATE (1:24 p.m.): I know some of you were wondering how Felix Hernandez would look this spring as opposed to a year ago, when he went on his Ultra-Slim-Fast plan. I can tell you, having just talked to him, that he weighed in at 226 pounds last spring. This year? He is currently 218 pounds and looks the part. I noticed it right away. Whether or not this translates to good pitching, we'll have to see.

10:28 a.m. -- We'll find out whether the dreams of Mariners fans will come true over the next eight months. For now, this is where it all begins, right here at spring training in Peoria, Ariz. As I type this, some pitchers are already taking their physicals. Down below, you can see Horacio Ramirez playing catch with new starter Carlos Silva (closest to the camera).

Bedard 014.jpg

We have a bit of minor news already, in that manager John McLaren has told Erik Bedard he will be the team's Opening Day starter. Not that there was ever any doubt. But it's nice to get little details out of the way bright and early.


McLaren told Felix Hernandez this and says the response was very positive.

Bedard was told this morning as he walked into the Peoria Sports Complex. He only needs to get half a physical done, having already undertaken the same tests last week when his trade from Baltimore was being finalized.

Bedard had a chance to do some house hunting in Bellevue last Friday, after the press conference. Other than that, he's been criss-crossing the country on airplanes. He didn't care much about the whole No. 1 starter thing then and insists he still doesn't.

"It's kind of early in spring, I guess,'' Bedard says right here of the No. 1 starter role already being decided. "We haven't finished the physicals.''

He added: "I don't know why everybody makes a big deal of it...it was never really a goal for me.''

Other tidbits from today? McLaren expects to see Brandon Morrow use three pitches as a late-inning reliever, having worked on his slider and split-fingered fastball down in Venezuela this past winter. McLaren says Morrow relied primarily on his fastball last season and should benefit from the added variety.

"I think anybody that can throw three-plus pitches is going to be a better pitcher,'' McLaren said.

More news? The M's today signed Greg Norton, 35, a switch hitter with four major league clubs throughout a career that began in 1996. It's a minor league deal. We'll see if Norton shows something at camp. He's a possible bat addition, but has to show more than he did last year, when he played 75 games for the Devil Rays and produced an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of .705 (with a .347 slugging percentage). Norton was coming off knee surgery, to be fair.

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