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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 24, 2008 1:26 PM

Sights and Sounds: Jose Lopez

Posted by Geoff Baker

Lots of talk this spring about the work second baseman Jose Lopez needs to do to get his game back on-track. In fact, the Mariners even imported longtime major league firecracker Tony Phillips as a guest coach to help inject some spark into Lopez, primarily. Yuniesky Betancourt as well, but Lopez is the biggest project. Phillips isn't a miracle worker. But his job is to drill into Lopez that a major leaguer must bring his "A'' game and intensity level into each and every contest. So, Phillips and Lopez will be spending a lot of time together this spring. The clip starts off with Phillips hitting grounders to Lopez. Next, in an interesting series of clips, you'll see Lopez working on his bunting. He does not have an easy time of it. "That was practice!'' he says after missing a couple. "Now, we talk.''

In one series, Lopez goes 0-for-5 attempting to lay some bunts down to the left side of the plate. Phillips goes over to talk to him afterwards.

The next sequence sees the infielders turning double playes. Quite interesting to watch them in action and see the flow of how they quickly transfer the balls from glove to throwing hand. Almost like watching a symphony when you see it up close. You can hear third base coach Sam Perlozzo's voice throughout. He's the coach who'll work with the infielders this season. On the video, he's the guy hitting the ground balls. The fun part of this video is all the sounds you hear. The instruction from the coaches. The voices of the players. That's why we call it "Sights and Sounds".

Jose Vidro was making some sounds of agony after getting drilled in the knee area by a Ryan Rowland-Smith pitch during live BP. He got it iced down afterwards. We'll know more tomorrow how badly hurt he was. Doesn't look too serious (easy for me to say), but sometimes these things can swell up overnight.

Jarrod Washburn was pleased after the workout when talking about this morning's decision to split up the lefthanders in the rotation, making him the No. 4 starter. Washburn said there were too many times last year when the hitters he faced had gotten too comfortable because they'd already seen southpaw Horacio Ramirez the night before.

"The hitters get into a rhythm,'' he said. "They see the same type of pitcher two nights in a row.''

Not this time. At least, not to start the year. For James in Walla Walla, from the previous post's comments thread, yes, I do get the impression Washburn could get skipped if a matchup favored Batista. In fact, manager John McLaren said this could happen when we asked him about it this morning.

McLaren was pleased with how this morning's drills went, when the team worked -- as I mentioned earlier -- on outfield relays and cutoffs given certain situations with and without runners on base. Down below, you see a shot of pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, closely monitoring the positioning of his pitchers in backing up the throws coming in from the cutoff men.

springdrills 004.jpg

Ryan Feierabend, seen below, backs up home plate on one of the relays.

springdrills 005.jpg

By the way, look at who just walked in to the media room here.

springdrills 028.jpg

Dave Niehaus has had quite the week since getting elected into the broadcast wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. The first person to call and congratulate him was Ken Griffey Jr. After that, it was former M's GM and current Phillies boss Pat Gillick. Neihaus had just gotten out of the shower when he received the call telling him he was in. He did not even know the decision was coming down that day -- his 73rd birthday no less -- and was taken completely by surprise.

"My brain turned to mush,'' he said.

Niehaus is an avid follower of the blog, so, he didn't mind me snapping off a bunch of photos. No other media members around, so, I've got him all to myself. That's his broadcast partner, Rick Rizzs, in the background. Not to mention Kelly Munro, one of the team's PR assistants.

springdrills 030.jpg

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