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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 17, 2009 9:56 AM

Wetteland on closers

Posted by Geoff Baker

mariners0217 010.jpg

Awaiting word on Ken Griffey Jr., and whether or not he is indeed going to the Atlanta Braves. Yes, I've seen the Atlanta Journal Constitution report saying that he is. I'm trying to get it confirmed through my own sources. Once I do, I will let you know, as always. Until then, I can't tell you that I know the answer because I don't.

"I haven't heard a thing,'' Mariners GM Jack Zdureincik said moments ago. "I'm standing here on the field (watching workouts) and I haven't heard a thing about anyone.''

In the meantime, I had an interesting chat today with new bullpen coach John Wetteland, (pictured above), a former star closer for the World Series champion New York Yankees in 1996 and the Montreal Expos before that. Wetteland had some very interesting takes on the mentality of becoming a closer (he used to be a starter in the Dodger organization before transitioning to the role). He talks about stuff you can't measure. Some of the techniques he used to shut out nerves on the mound. Have a listen.

In this audio clip, he talks about the need to summon key words or phrase mechanisms in specific situations.

"If I felt like I really needed to throw a great fastball, what's the first thing that most people do? They try to throw hard,'' he said. "Sandy Koufax told me something when I was very young. The line was 'See how easy you can throw the ball hard'. And so, i just kind of said that to myself and it made me relax.''

There's more where that came from. Listen to the clip.

In this next clip, Wetteland talks about "stuff'' and how, for a closer, it doesn't always mean throwing 98 mph.

The Mariners have a whole bunch of closer candidates this spring, beginning with Mark Lowe, and moving on down the line to include Tyler Walker, Miguel Batista, David Aardsma and Roy Corcoran. Their "stuff'' will have something to do with who gets chosen, but how they handle pressure situations -- each in their own unique way -- will have just as much to do with it, if not more.

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