By Shannon Drayer
PEORIA, Ariz. – A steady stream of Mariners dropped by the Salty Senorita for “The Cactus League Report” Tuesday night. If you missed the broadcast, never fear, there is a podcast.
Lloyd McClendon was up first. Why first? Well, he is the manager, so that makes complete sense but also because spring training days start very early for the manager and coaching staff. McClendon is a manager who prefers to get things done early in day rather than after games, so everything from our morning meetings with him to the team’s workouts have been a bit earlier than what we have seen in the past. The word is McClendon is getting to the complex at 5 a.m. every day. For that, he definitely deserves the first spot on the show.
McClendon gave his early impressions of camp and talked a little about the battle at shortstop. He playfully reprimanded Rick Rizzs for announcing in the show open that the team was 5-1 this spring.
“Wins are hard to come by but I think we 6 and 1,” he said with a laugh.
While spring numbers are spring numbers, he did say that he felt it was important that his club finish at least .500 in Cactus League play.
“I think it is important for our fan base to let them know that we are giving an effort and trying to win games down here,” he said. “But I think the most important thing – and we can’t lose sight of this – is to prepare the major-league club for a regular major-league season, so we have to be real careful how we go about it. When we open that season we want the guys ready to explode.”
Reliever Charlie Furbush followed and was quite entertaining, addressing questions about both his pitching and his side career as host of “Bullpen Banter” on the Sunday magazine show. Furbush showed great versatility, explaining how he learned his slider and who Daddy Raspberry is.
Catcher Mike Zunino was up next, and listening to him it is hard to believe that this guy has all of a few months of big-league experience. Zunino gave his thoughts on Felix Hernandez’s start Tuesday, learning the pitchers and how McClendon has helped him at the plate.
Pitchers Blake Beavan and James Jones, minor-league catching coordinator Dan Wilson and Greg Johns from MLB.com were all guests in the second hour. It was very interesting to hear about a new organizational pitching philosophy from Beavan and Wilson and great to get to know Jones a little bit. Johns shared the story of his whirlwind trip to the Dominican Republic for the opening of the Mariners academy there. All good stuff. Give it a listen if you have an opportunity.