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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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March 12, 2008 4:01 PM

Sights and Sounds: Ichiro

Posted by Geoff Baker

I know some of you can't get enough of this Ichiro "slump" thing, so I've decided to play along. Here's some video of Ichiro from today, going about his routine. Didn't ask him about it, so I'll just assume what's going on and put it into a story. The way I see it is this:

Ichiro, desperate to snap an 0-for-21 spring slump, decides that maybe he'll try bunting for a hit the next time up. So, he gets a little work in. Nothing great happening.

Former manager Mike Hargrove, in camp to do some consulting on a handful of hitters for GM Bill Bavasi, looks on with interest. Later, Ichiro tells anyone who will understand his Japanese (like the trainer wearing the shoulder bag) that his bat simply refuses to hit the ball.

Hargrove walks over to Lee Elia, a consultant for manager John McLaren, behind the batting cage. "See that guy over there?'' Hargrove says, pointing at Ichiro as he warms up. "I've been studying him with my consultant's eye and I'll bet you he doesn't get a single hit, even in batting practice!''

"You're on, but it's double or nothing,'' Elia says. "My consultant's eye says he gets a hit!''

"Put her there!'' Hargrove says as they exchange high-fives and some laughs.

"Hate to take your money, old boy,'' Elia replies with a back slap.

Ichiro has some plans of his own, which involves a private chat with the day's batting practice pitcher. Maybe telling him to lob a few balls right down the middle?

For a moment, Hargrove's wager looks solid as Ichiro fouls a pair into the netting. But later, his singles stroke is back. Crisis averted for yet another day. That's surely how things went. Or maybe not...perhaps this is all being taken way too seriously. But hey, you wanted updates.

Later, we see Ichiro doing some long-toss with Raul Ibanez. The interesting part of the footage is where coach Eddie Rodriguez is offering some throwing tips to Ibanez, especially the form he should use on his follow through after the throw. Ibanez and Ichiro later jog off the field.

bigisland08 083.jpg

Up above, you see manager McLaren coming off the field after today's game, a 5-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. McLaren stops for his post-game chat with reporters. He liked the job done by his rehabbing pitchers, most notably, Arthur Rhodes. He was also pleased with the work by Mike Morse, a 3-for-4 effort with a double and two RBI. Morse is now batting .536 this spring.

"He's got to feel good about it,'' McLaren said. "We felt good about it.''

bigisland08 084.jpg

McLaren goes on to talk about the competition between Morse, Wladimir Balentien and Charlton Jimerson as that extrra right handed outfield bat. Balentien went 1-for-4 with an RBI double.

"They all bring a little something to the table,'' he said. "They all bring a little something different.''

Hear what McLaren said in-detail right here.

Down below, see Morse signing autographs for some fans as he heads off the field.

bigisland08 087.jpg

Caught up with Arthur Rhodes after the game. He was treated to a mini-standing ovation from the fans as he headed off the mound after his 1-2-3 seventh inning -- his first mound action in nearly a year. Three straight groundball outs. Remember when I told you there's no real plan to get Rhodes in a real game before May. He begs to differ,

"I'm ready to go right now,'' he said. "I know (they say) patience. But by the end of spring training, the way I'm going, I want to be on this team.''

Rhodes, for all his veteran savvy, admitted to some rookie jitters as he headed out to the mound from the bullpen. We'll let him tell it. Hear it all right here in this audio clip.

Mark Lowe also tossed a scoreless inning, working a 1-2-3 eighth.

COMMENT: 5:35 p.m.: For JP in the comments thread, it's two minutes of actual Mariners footage we're allowed to show. The Seattle Times logo at the beginning and end of the clips doesn't count.

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