Mariners hit the field plus morning notes

Feb 24, 2012, 9:41 AM | Updated: 5:38 pm

By Shannon Drayer

We finally get to see some baseball today. Mariners vs Mariners, but good enough after a long off season. Most of the regulars are in the lineup and we will get to see Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker pitch innings 1-3 for the Mariners 2 team. Should be fun to watch.

Michael Saunders is in the lineup playing center and batting 9th for Team 1. When he looked at the original lineup on the door in the clubhouse however it read “Sanders 8”. “Oh yeah,” he laughed. “I was all over them for that.”

Saunders is happy to be in the lineup regardless of spelling. He and others know that this is the first chance to make an impression.

Wedge made it very clear that these games count from day 1,” Saunders said. “Even though it is just an intersquad you have to take it seriously. You will be evaluated at the get go.”

For the first time in his career Saunders used a hitting coach (who just happened to be the brother of Josh Bard) in the off season. We have seen Saunders struggle at the plate every time he has had an opportunity at the big league level and despite the struggles his attitude has always been great. It is no different now. He believes in what he is doing and while it would seem that it would be easy for him to get discouraged, he doesn’t. It is good to see.

Moving on…I chatted briefly with Miguel Olivo this morning and realized that he and Jesus Montero have something in common. They were mentored by the same former catchers early in their careers. They both worked with Tony Pena and Joe Girardi. Montero obviously worked with the two while with the Yankees. Olivo is a relative of Pena’s and worked with him starting at a very young age. Girardi was his manager when he was with the Marlins. He said he learned a lot from the pair. So Olivo and Montero speak the same catching language I asked? “No, not exactly,” laughed Olivo…

I saw a sight I have never seen in the Mariners clubhouse this morning. A clubbie going around with an extra fast food breakfast sandwich looking for a taker. He finally had to leave it in the break room. In years past you would see bags of breakfast sandwiches in the clubhouse. Not so much anymore. Rather, there is an omelette bar set up in one corner and plenty of other healthy options in the back. One person who appreciates this is Justin Smoak who adopted an entirely new diet this off season.

“Mostly meats and vegetables,” Justin said. “I actually like the vegetables now.”

This was a shock as I vividly remember a hilarious conversation between Smoak and Alex Liddi in the dugout last year. They were debating which was better. Italian or Southern cuisine.

“Your food is terrible,” said Liddi. “You put gravy on everything.”

“In Italy they eat their vegetables cold,” countered Smoak. “Horrible.”

While Smoak loves the Southern cooking he has been careful to avoid it to the extent of which he put his mom on notice.

“I had to actually make sure she knew I was eating right when I went to her house because moms love to cook, especially country cooking the old way, they cook with everything they can think of. She was excited about it though and believe me, she was the first to let me know if she thought I was gaining a little weight.”

Good work mom!

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Mariners hit the field plus morning notes