By Brent Stecker
Michael Morse left the Mariners after the 2008 season with just 107 games of MLB service to his name. The outfielder/first baseman is back with the team, however, as a completely new man – he's one of the new clubhouse leaders, and he's coming off three strong years with the Washington Nationals, including a 2011 campaign when he hit .303 with 31 home runs.
Morse told "Brock and Salk" Thursday that a lot of his personal improvement came from relaxing, and that's something he's seeing from other members of the Mariners during their torrid run through spring training.
"I think what's going on now with the relaxed atmosphere, guys are just letting their God-given talent out," said Morse, who was acquired from the Nationals in a three-team trade on Jan. 16. "It's something I learned a couple years ago – just relax, go out there and have fun, and play within your capabilities. Don't try to do anything you're not capable of doing. Don't go out there and say, 'Every time I'm up to bat I'm trying to hit a homer.' No, I'm trying to hit the ball hard, I'm just trying to square it up and what happens happens."
Morse has looked good this spring, hitting .300 with two homers in seven games, but younger players like first baseman Justin Smoak (.429), catcher Jesus Montero (.412) and second baseman Dustin Ackley (.385) – all who struggled as everyday players last season – have been just as integral to Seattle's strong spring.
"The greatest thing about those guys is that I feel like they had so much weight on their shoulders last year, and I think this year coming into camp, that weight's gone," Morse said. "If the weight's on anybody's shoulders, it's on the older players, and that's fine. We're used to it. We can take it. If we're taking the weight off of their shoulders, that's great, because now these guys can relax and do what they do best. It's showing in spring training. These guys are going out, having great at-bats, they're scoring runs, they're getting on base – what more can you ask?
"A lot of people wonder, 'Oh, well, is the talent there?' Well we're showing you right now that the talent is here."