Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
February 19, 2008 8:40 AM
Posted by Geoff Baker
UPDATE (11:01 a.m.): Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus just got named winner of the Ford C. Frick Award, on the same day he is celebrating his 73rd birthday. This is quite an honor, since it means he's being inducted into the broadcasting wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. A deserving guy. Ceremony takes place July 25-28.
Think it's easy to execute a pitch-out? Not always. Which is why they practice it. That's what was going on this morning.
Oh, yes. Our headline. It's true, the Mariners just signed Crosby. No, not Bobby Crosby. We're talking Bubba. As in Bubba Crosby. Yes, I know. Big difference. It's strictly a minor league deal, no spring camp invite. Crosby was actually an everyday major leaguer once. Played for the Yankees from 2004-2006, the D-Rays once (OK, I guess not. You're right, I am confusing him with Bubba Trammel. My bad.), but was in Class AAA with the Reds last season. For 13 games, anyway.
He's still only 31 and has some speed for a guy named "Bubba". But his .553 career on-base-plus-slugging percentage doesn't hold out much hope for him ever helping the big club. Just thought I'd mention him up top because there isn't much news coming out of camp for the moment.
Jose Lopez is going to be a day or two late getting to camp because of visa issues down in Venezuela. The team has been aware of the situation for a couple of weeks and had hoped to have Lopez here in time. Isn't going to happen. To pre-empt your questions, no, missing a couple of days running laps isn't going to throw him off much. Miss three or four days, it could be an issue.
Some of you may have seen our Ryan Rowland-Smith feature from today. He's from a very interesting family, as you can clearly tell from reading.
I'd have liked to go on more about that family, because I think it's shaped Rowland-Smith into the person he is today. What kind of person?
Well, here's an email I received today from a reader, Joseph Barber, who wrote the following:
"I met Ryan last year when with Tacoma. He has become a friend to our family and I just wanted to add that he not only has a great story as you have so nicely detailed, he is a fine human being. I am sure if you haven't noticed yourself yet, you will. He is genuine and honest and very polite. My 3-year-old son thinks he is "cool" and last year Ryan brought him and my niece to their first game at Safeco. He is the kind of person you hope will succeed and believe he will not only due to his work ethic but also his ability to build lasting relationships with teammates and coaches."
He put it better than I ever could. That's why I wanted to do justice to today's story. Not always easy, with the space constraints of a daily newspaper.
I had long chats with his parents to try to get a better sense of where he came from.
Here's his favorite passage:
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!
In other words, the true measure of a man is how he treats others, regardless of his own stature. A nice message to drill into your kids.
His mother, Julie White, obviously, doesn't need much more said about her. Any mother that would make a four-hour, round-trip three times per week so her son could face some serious baseball competition, well, what else is there to say? I think it's great that she just retired last week, at age 55, and can now do some serious traveling around the world. She can see her son play for more than a moment at a time. She and her husband, Bruce, actually missed Rowland-Smith's major league debut agaiost the Reds and his strikeout of Ken Griffey Jr. last May.
They had come to Seattle to see him, but he'd been optioned back to the minors. They were on their way to wherever he was supposed to play next (in Class AAA) when he was suddenly called back up again to face the Reds. They were caught in-transit and didn't get back to Seattle until that night. There, excitedly, he told them all about striking out boyhood idol Griffey, the player he used to watch video tapes of because he couldn't catch live games on TV growing up in Australia.
"When he first came to rookie ball in Peoria, you should have seen him when he got to stand in the same locker room with John Olerud,'' she told me of another of Rowland-Smith's early heroes, who he used to watch on videocassettes of the 1992 and 1993 World Series while playing for Toronto. "He thought he was going to die.''
Oh yeah, his grandfather, R,B. Rowland-Smith, really was Australia's minister for Sport and Recreation. Catch him in action here in this stirring debate over legislation for some sports bill. He's also a bit of a Boston Red Sox fan from way back. Rowland-Smith traded team jackets with a Red Sox minor leaguer and got him one. Yes, he's now a Mariners fan as well.
So, hope you enjoyed the story.
What else to say about today? Well, manager John McLaren just reiterated, for about the 1,000th time this off-season (he keeps getting asked) that he expects the team to run more this year. From first-to-third will be a biggie. He wants to do it just as well as the Angels, a team he considers the league's best at first-to-third running. In other words, he said, don't be surprised to see a bunch of guys get thrown out at third this spring. He'd rather see that happen now than guys do nothing at improving and simply hold up at second base during the year.
I'll leave you with a shot of Arthur Rhodes participating in a fielding practice drill for pitchers just moments ago.
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