Mariners Notebook: What’s missing this spring, plus injury updates

Mar 14, 2021, 10:46 AM | Updated: 11:10 am

Mariners Tom Murphy...

Coverage of spring training in 2021 has come with drastic changes. (Getty)


It is Sunday, right? Perhaps one of the only things that hasn’t changed in covering baseball during a pandemic is once things get started, you have no idea what day it is. A small comfort I suppose in a drastically different landscape.

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“Sunday Morning in the Clubhouse” has been a post I have done once every spring training for many years. It was an attempt to bring the reader inside the Mariners’ spring clubhouse and give them a little look and hopefully a bit of the feel for the group that would soon come north. This year due to COVID-19 protocols there is no clubhouse access for the media and broadcasters, no building access other than the media room entered through an outside door. That look is not available to us. It’s a look I hope we get back when the time is right.

The clubhouse has changed quite a bit in the last 10 years. With more to do pre-game and more places to do them, it has turned into more of a pass-through, a place to keep your stuff, more of a locker room than a place to hang out. Guys don’t sit at their locker anymore doing crossword or Sudoku puzzles, or just staring at the middle of the room, waiting – sometimes to hit the field, sometimes for the tap on the shoulder from a coach that the skipper needs to see them.

To me, Sunday mornings always had a little bit of a different feel. While it’s not an off day, it often did seem a little more relaxed. Perhaps more cups of coffee in hands, a few more conversations to be had, and as always, plenty to see and hear. Who do you hear before you see?

Who turns up the volume in the clubhouse when he walks in? Who issues the wise cracks and how are they received? Who if anyone is napping on a sofa or in the equipment manager’s office? How spirited are the battles at the ping pong table and who is winning the tournament? What locker has boxes in front of it full of T-shirts to be handed out to teammates? What’s the word on new equipment players have that teammates ask about? What new additions are there to clubhouse and who provided them? Egg chairs? Beanbag pillows? Pool table? Pop a Shot? Is Braden Bishop giving haircuts?

Of course it is the conversations that are missed the most. It’s important to be able to walk up to a player and ask for something to be explained – not an interview, mind you, but a true “Help me understand this so I can help others do the same.” On more relaxed days, those conversations may have little to do with baseball. How’s the family, how does Seattle work for them? Tell me about home, do you know so-and-so, what’s your favorite coffee blend and yes, the coffee really is that good in Seattle. Little conversations that tell you a little bit more about the person and that you in turn can share as the year goes on.

All of these things give a feel for what you have in front of you as the season approaches, and while we do our best to adapt, there is nothing that replaces the one-on-one conversations and in-person observations that were provided pre-pandemic. There are the Zooms and some distanced one-on-ones provided now, but the overall view has been controlled and largely one-dimensional, and in that, baseball suffers. It’s never been just about the results or numbers, even as the game changes. Baseball is a day-in, day-out commitment, and for so many, the stories, the whos, the hows and whys remain of interest and a vital part of the complete picture. Let’s hope they get to be told when the time is right.


Mitch Haniger, DH
Dylan Moore, SS
Ty France, 2B
Kyle Lewis, CF
Tom Murphy, C
Taylor Trammell, LF
Evan White, 1B
Sam Haggerty, RF
Jack Reinheimer, 3B

Yusei Kikuchi, SP

Mariners notes

• Sunday’s game against the Brewers, which is set for a 1:10 p.m. first pitch on 710 ESPN Seatle, is scheduled to be seven innings. This is also the final day that teams can roll over innings in spring training play. Going forward, should the team feel the need to pull a starter because he has thrown too many pitches in an inning, what they can do is bring in a reliever to finish the inning and then bring the starter back to begin the next frame.

• The news on Roenis Elías, who left his appearance in Thursday’s game against the Dodgers with arm pain, does not sound good. According to manager Scott Servais, an MRI has discovered a “pretty serious issue in his forearm.” Elías is seeing doctors to get treatment options.

• Jake Fraley, who was originally scheduled to be in Sunday’s lineup, is a scratch after crashing into the left field wall Saturday against the Rockies in Scottsdale. The move is precautionary as he was a little sore Sunday. He is expected to be back in the lineup Monday.

• Jarred Kelenic, who is progressing quickly in his recovery from a adductor strain in his left knee, and Shed Long Jr. were both scheduled to take batting practice on a back field Sunday morning.

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Mariners Notebook: What’s missing this spring, plus injury updates