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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 23, 2008 10:33 AM

Must be Fan Fest time

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Ever wonder what a player sees when surrounded by fans clamoring for his autograph? No? Well, too bad, because here it is. A shot of Ichiro in the camera bay area at the Peoria Sports Complex this morning. It's Fan Fest today at the ballpark, so the M's moved their workout next door to the stadium they share with the San Diego Padres and where they play their Cactus League games. Ichiro was actually less under siege here than he was earlier on, standing next to the dugout. Some fans began trampling each other to get his signature and security had to move in. I'll show you video of that later. Happens every year, by the way.

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These two made nice signs, but never had a chance at an autograph. Got to roll up your sleeves a little more and put your shoulder down. Ichiro wasn't the only player in demand.

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They actually got around to doing some workouts after all the ink. One of the more popular ones is a pop-up drill, where a machine spits out towering pop flies the fielders have to catch. The Arizona sun was out in force today and there was a definite glare in the sky. It can be very tough to see the balls, which is sort of the point of the entire drill. You could hear players shouting and calling each other off, which the fans eat up. I'll have video of that later.

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Richie Sexson got a nice round of applause for this catch down below. His form wasn't the greatest, but it wasn't the easiest of balls to run in on, either.

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Finally, there was the inevitable batting practice, where every .250-hitting infielder suddenly turns into Barry Bonds. Yes, there were some monster home runs. I was standing right at the right field foul pole when someone hit a screaming line drive my way that seemed to follow me wherever I went -- video camera and picture camera, not to mention, notebook and pen, and audio recorder in-tow. The ball had eyes. Fortunately, I do as well and disaster was averted. No video of that, sorry.

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Speaking of .250-hitting infielders, the Mariners today signed Mike Kincade, 36, the former Washington State star, to a minor-league contract. OK, OK, his big-league average is actually .256. No invite to major league camp. He'll join the minor leaguers when their camp opens on March 6. Kincade has played 222 games with the Mets, Orioles and Dodgers, not to mention another 1,010 games in the minors throughout a pro career that began in 1995. He also spent the 2004 season with the Hanshin Tigers in Japan. He's strictly minor league depth. But a local boy done well. This is a chance for him to get a little exposure, maybe land another Japanese contract. Nothing more.

No announcement on the rotation yet. The players were sequestered with a member of MLB security for over an houir this morning. It's an annual meeting they have so that everyone understands the dos and don'ts of being a big-leaguer. Some players take better notes than others. So, we haven't spoken to manager John McLaren yet. We will after this morning's session.

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