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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 18, 2008 3:15 PM

Sights and Sounds: Day 5

Posted by Geoff Baker


As promised, today's video feature is finally here after several hours of working through glitches. Today's segment focuses exclusively on hitting, with position players arriving in camp ahead of tomorrow's reporting date. Raul Ibanez is in the first segment, working in the indoor cage. When we return to him a bit later, he is with a coach, hitting off an even smaller tee. I asked Ibanez afterwards what he was working on and he told me it was his bat angle. The goal of the exercise was for him to keep the angle of the bat as level as he could throughout his swing. Just some of the many drills he'll work on in the cage throughout the year. This is the type of stuff that goes on for hours during the season. Serious hitters do plenty of cage work indoors each week -- before batting practice. The purpose is to work on little things just like that. It's the kind of stuff fans rarely see. But trust me, the good players don't begin their day with the pre-game stretch.

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You'll see some shots of Willie Bloomquist chatting with some fans. Sorry about the audio towards the end of that clip. There's also a shot of Mike Morse hitting off a tee in the final segemnt. Mariners consultant Lee Elia is underhanding him tosses. You can hear Elia say "Talk to me Mike!'' He's trying to get Morse to carry on a conversation while he's hitting and not think so much about his stroke. Enjoy. I apologize again for the delay. We had a bunch of great stuff we were trying to add to this segment, but it just couldn't be saved.

By the way, some of you were asking me about the new pitcher the Mariners picked up, one Anderson Garcia from the Phillies.

I went up and told him some of you were curious. The Mariners are too, believe me. He gave me the 411 on all things Garcia for the moment.

His fastball can hit 95 or 96 mph. Also throws a nasty sinker.

"That's my best pitch,'' he told me.

Garcia throws a slider and a change-up as well, which isn't a surprise since he has started games at times. But it's primarily fastball-sinker.

Sounds like a late-inning reliever to me. You can see where this is going.

Just to be sure, I asked manager John McLaren where he envisioned Garcia pitching -- as a starter, or reliever, since he's done both as a minor leaguer.

"He's not going to start here,'' he said with a chuckle.

Not much help on that front. Sort of the "no kidding" category. McLaren did say: "He's just somebody who's very interesting. Maybe he's one of those surprises.''

McLaren has spoken previously about wanting to be surprised by an arm vying for a bullpen slot.

My first hunch is that Garcia is an insurance plan just in case Brandon Morrow doesn't work out as a set-up man. The team could have Garcia waiting in the wings down in Class AAA and let Morrow get back to being a starter later on in the season if they thought Garcia could hangle a late role.

Shannon Drayer from KOMO 1000 was one step ahead of me on that and asked McLaren in our afternoon media session whether Morrow could begin the season down in Class AAA if a "surprise" emerged in late-inning relief this spring. Now there's an idea.

"I'm not saying we haven't talked about it,'' McLaren said. "But my feeling, I think, is that his (Morrow's) stuff is so special. I'd rather have him here helping uis to win ballgames.''

OK, so scratch that for now. But the opposite happening? Garcia maybe coming up later in the year if the team needed arm help the way it did in last season's second half? I'd say that's still very much in-play as a strategy.

So, lots of hitting on the field and in the cages today. That should continue as the position players arrive in camp. Ichiro is here. The boxes are stacked up in front of his locker.

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So, things are about to get a bit more serious. Speaking of serious, how about these wheels Mark Lowe drove out of the parking lot today?

Bedard 101.jpg


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