Mariners ‘preview’: Jamie Moyer gets the ball in 2003 season opener
The Mariners’ opening game of the 2020 season was originally scheduled for Thursday, March 26 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced MLB to postpone the season. Just because there will be no baseball played for the foreseeable future doesn’t mean you won’t have a baseball game to listen to on 710 ESPN Seattle, however. A series of classic Mariners games will air at 7 p.m. each night on 710 ESPN Seattle (full schedule here) through April. Below, Mariners insider Shannon Drayer provides a preview of opening day 2003.
Tuesday, April 8, 2003
The Mariners were happy to finally arrive home after an eventful offseason that would see manager Lou Piniella ask out of the final year of his contract and an opening series trip to Japan canceled because the Iraq War had broken out.
The season was to start in Japan with two games against the A’s at the Tokyo Dome, but those plans were scuttled at the last minute. How last minute? Those in the traveling party actually brought their suitcases to the clubhouse to be taken to the charter. A favorite memory, the luggage of Bret Boone’s family, all appropriately tagged. “The Boone,” “The Boone’s wife” and “The Boone’s kid.”
On the field, the Mariners were coming off a 93-69 season, a record that in many years would see them in the postseason, but instead found them in third place in the division behind the A’s who won 103 games and the eventual World Series Champion Anaheim Angels, who won 99.
While they lost their skipper Piniella, the team itself was largely unchanged with the only change in starters being Randy Winn, who came over from Tampa as compensation for Piniella, taking over in left field, giving the Mariners an outfield defense that could cover ridiculous ground with Mike Cameron in center and Ichiro in right.
First year manager Bob Melvin had a much more laid-back style than his predecessor. His approach was to trust his veteran group.
The feeling in spring training was there was unfinished business coming up short two years previous. Players looked around the clubhouse and saw veterans at almost every position and a solid pitching staff. Perhaps the one big question was the back end of the bullpen as Kazuhiro Sasaki had underwent offseason surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow. With the offense, they could provide and an improved defense however, this seemed to be not much more than a small worry at the time.
Their home opener competition, the World Series Champion Anaheim Angels.
David Eckstein, SS
Darin Erstad, CF
Tim Salmon, DH
Garret Anderson, LF
Troy Glaus, 3B
Shawn Wooten, 1B
Benji Gil, 2B
Bengie Molina, C
Eric Owens, RF
Ramon Ortiz, P
Ichiro Suzuki, RF
Randy Winn, LF
Mark McLemore, DH
John Olerud, 1B
Bret Boone, 2B
Mike Cameron, CF
Jeff Cirillo, 3B
Carlos Guillen, SS
Dan Wilson, C
Jamie Moyer, P
Jamie Moyer, at age 39 coming off his career best ERA season, got the ball on opening day. He would then take the ball every fifth day as did Freddie Garcia, Gil Meche, Ryan Franklin and Joel Pineiro, the only five starters used the entire season.
Read Shannon’s Get To Know Your Mariners series
• How Marco Gonzales ‘became a different guy’ on the mound in Seattle
• Plenty to learn about the life of lefty reliever Taylor Guilbeau
• How Austin Nola found change he needed
• Patrick Wisdom has long history with Marco Gonzales
• Logan Gilbert’s swift rise up the ranks
• Dan Altavilla looking for healthy, productive 2020
• Cal Raleigh has been on the baseball path since Day 1
• OF Jake Fraley could be the gem of Zunino trade
• If anyone can relate to top Mariners prospects, it’s Taijuan Walker
• Julio Rodriguez looks the part of future superstar on and off the field