PEORIA, Ariz. – A very brief but productive live batting practice took place on Field 2 at the Mariners’ spring training complex Friday morning.
Nick Vincent took what should be the last step in making his way into Cactus League games, throwing to two teammates who are also close to game action, Mitch Haniger and Ichiro.
After taking three rounds off a live pitcher (as opposed to a coach pitching), Haniger said he is ready to go after being slowed by hand tendinitis this spring.
“It’s been feeling good ever since picking up a bat after taking the time off,” he said of his right hand.
Haniger, who could see his first game action Saturday, said he saw the typical mix of pitches from Vincent, who was second in the the majors in holds with 29 last year.
“He’s got good stuff,” Haniger said. “There’s a reason why he is so successful.”
Ichiro wasted little time in getting his bat going, swinging on the last pitch of his first round against Vincent, sending it deep into the left-center gap. The moment was no doubt well documented as once again their was a large contingent of the Japanese media on hand filming every move he made on the field. Teammates including Haniger seem to be getting a kick out of the show.
“They’re not here for me,” said Haniger with a smile. “I’m like a kid too around him. I get it. I know why everyone is around. I am the same way.”
Ichiro made solid contact on a number of offerings from Vincent. Before the live BP session, manager Scott Servais said that we should see Ichiro in a game this weekend. Ichiro is ready.
“I think I have done everything I can possibly do to get ready to actually play in a game,” he said through interpreter Allen Turner. “There’s only so much you get from practice. After that, it’s actual games and you get ready in the game.”
The transition from offseason work to middle of spring training work has been seamless for Ichiro. He looked happy sitting at his locker chatting with members of the organization who stopped by to say hello after workout. It wasn’t just that he found a home after the long and uncertain offseason; it was that he found home.
“The facility has changed, some things have changed, but it really feels good,” Ichiro said. “It’s home. The views over the field, the facility wherever I look, I feel that peace. It feels good.”
• Good news on the starting pitching front as Felix Hernandez continues to work toward a bullpen session and Erasmo Ramirez should be cleared to begin throwing in the next day or two. Servais said that Felix would need to get two to three outings in Arizona to feel comfortable throwing him in a regular season game, but he would not need to build to 100 pitches. Doing the math, it is apparent there is still plenty of time before the end of spring training to get him into at least two games.
• The Mariners made a series of roster moves before their game against the Giants. Optioned to Triple-A Tacoma was pitcher Chase De Jong, with pitchers Ryan Garton, Ljay Newsome, infielder Rey Navarro and catcher Joe DeCarlo re-assigned to minor league camp.