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Youngsters shine in Mariners’ first intrasquad game

M’s minor leaguer Jabari Blash curshed a home run that landed well beyond the left-field fence. (Shannon Drayer)

By Shannon Drayer

PEORIA, Ariz. – After a week of baseball drills, we finally got a taste of actual baseball. Baseball in the form of a 4 1/2 inning intrasquad game that Mariners No. 1 prevailed over Mariners No. 2, 4-3.

Jabari Blash, who finished last season at Double-A Jackson, hit a blast that cleared the field and complex fences. See the wall behind the shed in the picture above? The ball went over that wall and into the parking lot in front of the stadium. Manager Lloyd McClendon said he was worried it would hit his car, which was parked in front of the net that you can see next to the shed. No chance. The car was safe.

The blast drew oohs and ahs from the crowd and teammates alike. Logan Morrison, who was standing near me at the time, let out a big gasp when the ball came off the bat.

“That is some serious man strength (stuff),” he said, shaking his head. “Wow. Five-hundred feet? Okay, I’m not going to see anything else like that today. I’m going home.”

It probably wasn’t quite 500 feet but it very well could have been 450. Blash is known to have some pop in his bat, but like many young power hitters he strikes out a bit too much. Still an intriguing youngster worth keeping an eye on.

Other highlights included Stefen Romero’s two-run shot to left-center and solid play in right and Nick Franklin’s opposite-field home run hitting right-handed. The pitching wasn’t much to write home about as none of the pitchers put up a clean inning.

While the fireworks were fun to watch, it was just one intrasquad game and means very little. It is a good start, however, for those who had success and particularly good to for Franklin, who has struggled in previous springs. This spring won’t be easy for him competing for a spot with Brad Miller, who has the inside track to the position, and knowing that each game there will be scouts in the stands with eyes on him.

Monday came word that the Mets were interested. On Tuesday the Rays were added to the list. His name will most likely come up throughout the spring in trade rumors, and that can be tough on a veteran player let alone a young one like Franklin.

It is part of the game, however, and for his part Franklin appears to have good focus coming into the spring.


• Taijuan Walker threw Tuesday morning after having two days off. All went well in the short long toss session and trainer Rick Griffin told me he was happy with what he saw, particularly the velocity. Walker should throw again on Wednesday, and if all goes well I would expect to see him start throwing bullpens again by the end of the week.

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