Offbeat observations from a week at Mariners spring training
We were in Peoria, Ariz. last week broadcasting “Danny, Dave and Moore” from just outside the Mariners’ clubhouse. I’ve got some leftover notes and observations from that trip.
• We talked to Brad Miller, and of course noticed he had much longer hair than he had last year. It looked good, but earlier this week we learned that Lloyd McClendon told Miller he has to cut his hair. He doesn’t want any of his players to have hair that falls below the collar of their jersey or shirt. I’m not sure why there’s a team policy against length of hair when length of beard doesn’t matter. You can grow beards as long as you want. Cases in point: Dustin Ackley and Joe Beimel last year. Maybe McClendon makes exceptions for veterans. But McClendon did support his shortstop with one of the strangest excuses I’ve heard for potential defensive shortcomings. McClendon told us that fans who wear white shirts in the stands at spring games might be affecting Miller. I guess the white ball gets lost in a background of white shirts, or something like that. But it’s Miller’s throwing that’s giving him problems, not his fielding, and the first baseman has a dark jersey in spring games.
• Willie Bloomquist sounded like he thought it was strange that I named my dog after him. I lived in Port Orchard when we got our golden retriever, who turns 12 in June, and Bloomquist is a Port Orchard native. I was also a fan of Willie Mays growing up. Bloomquist told us a funny story after the on-air interview. His 7-year-old daughter wanted to play softball. So he asked her which way felt more comfortable to swing, left-handed or right-handed. She took a few cuts and decided that even though she threw with her right arm, it felt more comfortable to swing left-handed. In her first at-bat in a game, she struck out. Bloomquist’s wife came out of the stands and went to the dugout, upset that Bloomquist had her batting left-handed. Willie shook his head, telling us that baseball is one of the things he actually knows something about. His daughter proceeded to get 13 hits in her next 13 at-bats, all hitting left-handed.
• The thing I liked the most from talking to Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano: they both look you in the eye when they answer questions. Small thing, but a lot of athletes – heck, a lot of people – don’t look you in the eye when they talk to you.
• It’s true, general manager Jack Zduriencik confirmed he will shoot an imaginary arrow with me if the Mariners win the World Series. In the latest odds at Bovada.lv, the Mariners are 12-1 to win the World Series. Only three teams have lower odds: the Nationals at 6-1, the Dodgers at 17-2 and the Red Sox at 10-1. The Nationals and Mariners are the only two teams to have never made it to the World Series.
• We talked to Mike Zunino on his 24th birthday. His wife Tweeted out: “Happy Birthday to my amazing husband. I love you so much.” And from checking out the rest of her Twitter timeline, come to find out Zunino brought her breakfast in bed on Valentine’s Day.
• We learned the fastest speed that Felix Hernandez has ever driven – 160 mph – but we didn’t get to his love for basketball when we interviewed the King. Mariners insider Shannon Drayer told me that Felix attended the NBA All-Star Game this year and enjoys playing H-O-R-S-E with his teammates.