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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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April 1, 2008 5:16 PM

Happy Day Two

Posted by Larry Stone

Geoff is taking a well-deserved breather before starting the road travail in Baltimore on Friday, so Larry Stone here, back in the blogosphere.

I love Opening Day, but I've always liked the second day of the season even more. To me, it's when the season really begins, the day-to-day grind of it. All of the dilettantes and poseurs are gone -- in other words, the type of people who wouldn't frequent a hard-core baseball blog like this one. The real fans come out for Game 2. The attendance drops from 47,000 to about 20,000, the ones who are delighted to huddle in the cold. The media attendance drops by about the same percentage, which is very welcome as well, from a selfish standpoint.

McLaren talked before the game about his high hopes for Felix, whom he referred to as "Big Dog." Not quite as catchy as "King Felix," but it will do. Here's what he said when asked about Felix's growth off the field (say it out loud in your best Texas accent, and it's practically the same as one of Geoff's audio file)s:

"I think he is a good guy. He is a wonderful person. He likes to kid, have a good time. He has got a serious side to him, but also has light side where he lets his guard down and have fun with the guys.

"He reminds me of Freddy a whole lot. I say that with warm admiration, because I really thought a lot of Freddy. He was one of my favorites of all time. I hope he comes back (to the majors) at some time. I think Felix thinks very highly of Freddy also. He did a pretty good job for us time he was here."

Freddy, of course, is Freddy Garcia. There were rumblings of organizational concern over his partying ways while he was with the Mariners, but he was a front-line pitcher for a few years. I'd have to say, however, that Felix has the potential to leave Garcia in the dust, performance-wise. I believe I was the only Seattle Times writer to vote yes on the "Is Hernandez ready to compete for the Cy Young" question.

I just have a hunch that this will be his breakout year. I liked the way he handled himself in spring training. I believe Mel Stottlemyre will have a good influence on him. And I think that after two full seasons in the majors, his maturity and experience are at a point to coincide with his raw talent, which is when breakouts happen.

I'm really anxious to see what tonight brings.


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