Sunday, February 23, 2014 @ 7:51am
By Shannon Drayer
PEORIA, Ariz. – There were some questions from some of you about the qualifying offer yesterday and there was something I thought I should point out regarding draft-pick compensation and Kendrys Morales – something that could impact the Mariners' thinking on possibly signing him. Try and follow. Hopefully I don't get lost here.
Since the Mariners extended the qualifying offer to Morales, he now has a draft pick attached to him. This no doubt has helped quiet his market. Any team that signs him will lose a draft pick. In a way, this includes the Mariners. How so?
The Mariners will lose a draft pick for signing Robinson Cano. As it stands today, the pick they would lose would be their second-round pick because their first-round pick is high enough to be protected. As of today, the Mariners are down one pick.
If Morales were to sign with another club, the Mariners would receive a compensation pick, which would come between the first and second rounds. They then would have to give up that pick for signing Cano, as it would be their highest non-protected pick. If that were to happen they would basically be back at square one heading into the draft with the same picks they would have had if they had not signed a qualifying offer player or had one of their own qualifying offer players signed. All good.
Now say Morales does not sign with another club and sits out until June, when clubs would be able to sign him without losing a pick. In that case the Mariners would not get the compensation pick and would lose their second-round pick. Heading into the draft they would be down one pick.
Here is the kicker. I think the thought with many has been that one of the reasons why the Mariners should sign Morales is because they will not have to give up a pick. This is true, but they would also not gain the pick they would get if he signed elsewhere, so they would end up in the same boat as if he didn't sign anywhere. With no compensation pick coming because Morales has signed elsewhere, the pick they would lose for Cano would be their second-round pick.
That pick would be significant in the eyes of scouting director Tom McNamara, who has found players like Taijuan Walker and Brad Miller in that 30-45 pick range. Beyond the value in potential talent in that pick there are dollars under the new CBA slotting rules that pick is tied to as well. You lose the pick, you lose those dollars to spend, and that no doubt comes into play when determining what Morales' value to the club is, or at what number would his contribution outweigh the loss of the pick.
There is a chance he does not sign anywhere and that would be a lose/lose situation for the Mariners. For now the Mariners must determine the value of Morales vs. the pick, and perhaps they will take some time to do so. Of course, Morales and his agent, Scott Boras, have a seat at the table. We don't know at this point if they would even come in at a reasonable number. They already have turned down offers from the Mariners. How much does Morales want to play the next three months?
Just something to think about. It is not quite as simple as "just sign him, you need him, he is a bargain."
• Felix Hernandez will throw his first live batting practice session today.
• A bit of unexpected but good news this morning, as Stephen Pryor's name was on the board to throw a bullpen. It will be his first of the spring. Pryor is coming back from surgery to repair a triceps injury and is not expected to be ready to join the team until May at the earliest.
• How much of a competition at first base is there? Logan Morrison has been taking reps at first with Justin Smoak, but as Smoak said earlier this spring, it is his position to lose. Manager Lloyd McClendon answered today what he did to make Smoak feel like he still belongs after the additions of Morrison and Corey Hart.
"I told him he's my first baseman," he said. "But having said that he's still got to go out there and perform."
McClendon has been working with Smoak during batting practice and he likes what he has seen so far.
"The key has been cleaning up his path to the ball. Understanding what the proper path will do for you in the strike zone. I think he has bought into that and we might have something. We'll see. It's in there, and we have got to get it out of him."
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 11:37am
By Shannon Drayer
PEORIA, Ariz. – A section of the clubhouse has been particularity quiet this week. Before and after practice in the segment of the clubhouse that houses the majority of the Venezuelan players, the occupants of those lockers have been seen most often looking down at their phones checking for the latest news from family, friends and social media about the situation in Venezuela.
"That is all my phone is now," Endy Chavez said. "Nothing but messages from home from my family about what is going on."
Chavez comes from Valencia, the same home town as Felix Hernandez, who is worried about the situation as well. The violence has reached their city and there are shortages of many basic needs items. Felix has been in constant communication with his family and has shared the helpless feeling his Venezuelan teammates have being so far away from home. Today they were able to do something about it as they gathered together for a picture, which Felix tweeted along with the following message:
"Solo queremos PAZ para nuestro pais #PazParaVenezuela," or "We just want peace for our country #PeaceforVenezuela."
The Mariners are not the only team to tweet out a picture in support.
â€" Enrique Rojas/ESPN (@Enrique_Rojas1) February 22, 2014
"We are trying to support our country and one way or another let them know that we worry about and care even though we are not there," Chavez said. "We spend so much time out of the country but it is our home. We care about it, we enjoy it so it is tough when a lot of things happen in a bad way."
• It was a light day of workouts today with pitchers not throwing bullpens or "sidelines," as manager Lloyd McClendon calls them.
• Brandon Maurer was feeling much better today after being scratched from his bullpen yesterday when his back locked up on him. "He feels 100 percent better," McClendon said.
• As I mentioned in my last post it appears that there is a spot open on the bench. I asked McClendon this morning if the Mariners do not bring in another player via trade or signing, could we see a young player take that spot, or does he feel better having his young players get their at-bats in the minors if there are not a lot available with the big club.
"I will try to answer it the best I can," he said. "In my opinion any player I have on this team has to be a productive player – age has nothing to do with it. Everybody needs to be a hero every now and then. To have a young player on the bench that doesn't play for two weeks, that's no good. I need players that can match up and play two, three times a week. If they are on that bench, they will play."
That, of course, led to a conversation about utility man Willie Bloomquist, who already is a McClendon favorite.
"I love him," said McClendon. "He's ideal. You talk about veteran players that are tough mentally as well as physically. Not only that, he's the type of guy that makes his teammates better too because he pushes their expectations. When I took the job I said, 'We have got to have this guy,' because I knew him. I managed him early on in fall ball and I knew what type of character he had and what he brought to the table."
• We are getting ever closer to game action – intrasquad action that is. The Mariners will take on the Mariners in what looks to be a five-inning game on Tuesday. The game has been scheduled mainly to get young players some work.
"I doubt if you see Robinson Cano in an intrasquad game," McClendon said with a laugh. "It ain't happening."
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 8:02am
By Shannon Drayer
PEORIA, Ariz. – Mariners fans had a huge sigh of relief or a moment of frustration to go with their coffee this morning, depending on how they viewed Nelson Cruz. The former Rangers outfielder is no longer on the market after agreeing to a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles, ensuring that he will not be a Mariner.
I don't think he was a good fit and I don't think there was a huge amount of interest in him – and it sounds like that was a two-way street – so all in all I do not view this as a loss. The offense he may have brought would most likely barely make up for his lack of skills in other areas, particularly defense, which could have significantly hurt the team. For those who have been vehemently against this signing from the beginning, I don't think the Mariners have dodged a bullet because while there may have been interest, I don't think they were seriously pursuing him, particularly of late.
So will we see any more signings? Kendrys Morales is still out there, and if he is willing to sign a similar deal I could see the Mariners trying to pick him up. The Mariners know and like Morales, and despite the outfield, first base/designated hitter situation no doubt could use him, especially if Corey Hart can play a good amount of games in the outfield.
So who goes if they sign Morales? Possibly nobody. Before I wrote the disappearance of the outfield competition post yesterday I put together my projected 25-man roster and came up with an empty spot on the bench. You cannot play Morales in the field more than two-three days a week and expect to keep him healthy. It would take some juggling but you could keep both Justin Smoak and Logan Morrison and let the best bat play. If you end up with excess, so be it. Now, if you can make a trade for something useful, by all means do it, but if not, there's nothing wrong with having a good bat or defensive replacement on the bench.
What about starting pitcher Ervin Santana? I just can't see this. Assuming his price tag is in the Matt Garza/Ubaldo Jimenez range of four years, $50 million, it just doesn't make sense for the long term. Yes, you can never have enough good pitching, but the verdict is out on exactly what Santana is, and you have pitching coming. You may have a need for Santana now as a three, but that three could drop to a five as soon as next year if Taijuan Walker and James Paxton are what you think they are. Should the Mariners be paying $12 million a year for their No. 5 starter? If you could sign him for two years it would be a different matter, but if that money is there to be spent in the next few years, is that how you want to spend it?
There is always the possibility of a trade and I still think this is the most likely move we will see if we are to see any moves at all this spring. Morales is certainly a possibility, but it will be on the Mariners' terms, and there is no telling how his agent, Scott Boras, is going to play this. Morales signing a Nelson Cruz-like deal would be a loss for Boras, but Morales might get anxious and wave his agent off. Interesting situation to say the least.
Friday, February 21, 2014 @ 1:23pm
By Shannon Drayer
PEORIA, Ariz. – While the Mariners made a big addition to their offense over the winter with the acquisition of secnod baseman Robinson Cano, general manager Jack Zduriencik pointed out on multiple occasions that the club's best path to success was for the young core players to take the next step.
Dustin Ackley is front and center in that group, and with needs in the outfield and at leadoff hitter, the opportunity for him to make an impact is there. He has the tools to contribute with the bat, in the field and with his legs. But for Ackley, who is still adjusting to playing in the outfield, success in all three areas starts with what he does at the plate, and success at the plate for Ackley starts with confidence.
"I learned for me last year it wasn't so much the swing, it was more mental," he said after a morning workout. "It was getting up there and you were defeated before you even got up there. But it is just getting back to how it used to be in college, where I would get up there and I didn't think anybody could get me out. That's what it felt like again at the end of last year. When I got out it was like, 'That was not right, that was lucky. That shouldn't have happened.' Before, it was, 'Oh man, I can't swing at this pitch, that pitch, whatever.' That really got me in trouble and I have really learned a lot from that, from the standpoint of if you are up there, no matter how good your swing is, if you are not mentally there it doesn't matter how good you are."
It was a tough and unexpected lesson to learn for someone who had never really struggled. It was even tougher to identify while he was in the middle of it. It wasn't about the mechanics he was trying to change. It wasn't about more work in the cages or talking with different coaches about hitting. He didn't need to think more, he needed to think less at the plate.
"I was never ready to hit the first pitch," he said. "No matter how hard I try I always thought about, well, I can't make an out on the first pitch. I have been struggling. What are people going to think if I make an out on the first pitch and I am struggling?"
He became his worst enemy. If he appeared to be frozen at the plate on pitch one, well, he was.
"Early on when I wasn't ready for the fastball. I was taking changeups down the middle, I was taking those first-pitch curveballs," he said. "I think a lot of that just snowballed. Once I started to take pitches and it started to get into my mind, 'I can't make an out, I can't swing at this pitch.' When you are in that funk and you are not doing it, you are not ready, they are pounding that first-pitch heater, now you are down and now they go to work on everything else. I think that is where the struggles came. I was giving away the first pitch. I never hit it and all of a sudden I was having to swing at the best pitches they've got. It started to get really bad."
Bad enough to earn a trip to Tacoma, where he made a very quick turnaround. Again, it wasn't because of a mechanical change, rather one in his mindset. He discovered quickly that with the pressure erased in Triple-A he was more focused when he got to the plate and ready to hit the first pitch.
"Before I was like, 'Well, if I am not ready I can't hit these pitches,' but the more I was ready for the fastball first pitch the more I was starting to hit the curveball first pitch, hit off-speed stuff," he said. "So I got over that and thought 'Who cares?' I don't have to worry about anybody but myself. I have got to get up there and focus. Nobody is going to do it for me. I just have to get up there and block that all out."
Ackley hit .365 with a .972 OBP in 25 games with the Rainiers before being recalled. Confidence-inspiring numbers to be sure, but Ackley still needed to remind himself to not let the doubt creep back into his mind.
"I think even once I came back up there was a little bit of transition thing where I was like, 'OK, just keep going, keep doing the same things. Even though it is a different level it is still the same game, still doing the same stuff.' It started to kick in again, just being in on every pitch and being what it used to be," he said.
Keeping it there involved a commitment to the mental side of the game, a key that he came across in a moment of desperation. Shortly after he was demoted to Triple-A, Ackley found himself wandering around a bookstore. He thought perhaps he could find some answers there and came across Harvey Dorfman's "The Mental Game of Baseball", a book many players have credited with helping them find success. The book resonated with Ackley and got him looking for answers beyond the batting cage. It showed him a bigger picture.
"Everything has had an impact," he said. "Talking to people, reading stuff, getting positive thoughts back in my mind is a big thing. Help from the staff we have had, other players, (Raul) Ibanez, Kendrys (Morales). It was big just learning all that stuff. It is almost like learning to hit again. You are just focusing your mind. I always thought if you are a good hitter you are always going to hit well. Not really the case. Not if your head's not there. You are not going to be as successful as you want."
With his head in the right place he can push out the doubt that froze him last season. He can stop trying to make changes and trust that what he had, what got him to this level, is good enough if left alone and left to come through.
"For me it is more a feel. I don't look at the mechanics like crazy now, it is more a couple of aspects I look at and after that it is feeling. It's like, 'OK, this feels right, this feels like it is how it should feel. I'm in the box, I'm ready and this is how I used to see the ball.' "
"That's going to be the biggest thing for me this year," he continued, "being ready every game, every pitch, no matter what the circumstance. Nobody cares, you are going to be ready first pitch, be ready to hit."
Expectations will be high for Ackley this year once more. He will have to continue to develop as an outfielder, a challenge he embraces. There is a leadoff position to be won as well, and for a team that finished 28th out of 30 in steals in 2013, he will be expected to use his speed to steal far more than the two bases he stole last season.
"For me I think that should be a big part of my game," he said. "In the two years past with the struggles I had at the plate, when I did get on base I was a little tentative. Getting on base, running and stealing, I think that is going to be huge for me, and I think leadoff is definitely something I should shoot for. You get a lot more at-bats, you are hitting in front of a lot of good hitters. I think that is one of the goals this spring, to hit towards the top of the lineup. I think that will be real beneficial for me, and if I can handle it, good for the team."
It is all there for the taking for Ackley. A renewed outlook, a good rapport with the new manager, Lloyd McClendon – who visited him at his home in Michigan in the winter – and a new feeling around the club put him in a good position to step up and show the potential he was drafted for. It is not about change; rather, it's about getting back to what he was. He has experienced the struggles and believes he emerged from it with the tools he needs to avoid something similar. Time will tell, but for now he appears to have a good approach both at the plate and away from it.
Friday, February 21, 2014 @ 7:08am
By Shannon Drayer
PEORIA, Ariz. – Heading into camp it appeared that the toughest battles for positions would happen in the outfield. But with Franklin Gutierrez deciding to sit out this year and no other player brought in from the outside, for now at least it would appear that it will be more about battles for playing time and positions than actual roster spots.
Corey Hart has a position on the team and if his knees hold up he will be the main right fielder. Logan Morrison most likely will not see much time in the outfield, so we will keep him out of this conversation. An interesting development regarding the outfield arose Friday morning when manager Lloyd McClendon said that Dustin Ackley was probably not a candidate for center field and that he believed Ackley was more suited for left.
"'Cuz that's where I want him," McClendon responded.
That leaves Michael Saunders and Abraham Almonte in center with many believing that Saunders is better suited for the one of the corner spots. Others will get looks and have the opportunity to win positions, including Stefen Romero and Xavier Avery. Without surprises, however, it looks like the battles will be in left and center and more for playing time. That battle could be tougher for Ackley and Saunders, who are a both left-handed.
So what do we watch right now? Spring offense numbers are pretty useless – although Ackley may be an exception as they are considering him for leadoff and that most likely will be determined down here – so let's not bother with that unless anyone goes hitless.
I think all of the players in the mix will get an opportunity to settle in with the bat once the season starts and real evaluations can be made. Evaluating defense in the spring, however, is another matter. Almonte is talented but raw and Ackley is still learning. They can still make strides in the spring and that could be a difference maker. If Almonte looks like he can be an average to average-plus center fielder, he could have an edge in more playing time (assuming he makes the team) because he's a switch-hitter. If Ackley looks shaky in the field, he could lose time in left to Saunders. Offense is what will get them on the field in the regular season, but defense is what could make a bigger impression in the spring.
• Charlie Furbush, Danny Farquhar, Carson Smith, James Paxton, Scott Baker, Randy Wolf and Brandon Maurer are some of the pitchers who will throw batting practice to the hitters Friday.
• Camp casualty: hitting coach Howard Johnson suffered a broken toe when he was hit by a line drive in the batting cage.
• Felix Hernandez and Taijuan Walker, who are taking it a little slower than the rest of the pitchers, are scheduled to throw at least one more bullpen before throwing to hitters.
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 2:13pm
By Shannon Drayer
PEORIA, Ariz. – Felix Hernandez and Taijuan Walker threw bullpens under the watch of numerous front-office and training personnel Thursday morning as they get ready for the regular season. In a perfect world, Danny Hultzen – the second overall pick from the 2011 draft – would have been throwing alongside them. Instead, he is with them for warmups and drills and then three times a week leaves the group to go to another field to play catch with a trainer from 45 feet away.
A frustrating 2013 season in which Hultzen struggled to get and stay on the field was capped off by major shoulder surgery in early October to repair tears in his labrum, rotator cuff and shoulder capsule. The dreaded triple threat. It's a surgery that will sideline a pitcher for at least a year with no guarantee that he'll make it back. A tough diagnosis.
Hultzen will not factor into the Mariners' plans this year but the fact that he is on the field now is a good sign and a welcomed sight. He has been playing catch for just over a month now and is expected to stretch out to 60 feet next week. Because there was no chance to get him pitching this season, the Mariners are taking it particularly slow with him. And while they have a rehab and throwing program mapped out through September, Hultzen himself isn't looking beyond the day at hand.
"That's way too far to think about," he said with a smile before the morning workout. "I try to think about it day by day."
It cannot be easy to see others throwing bullpens or deal with the uncertainty of coming back from a serious injury. Hultzen appears to have put those thoughts behind him, however.
"It's tough," he said of the mental aspect of dealing with an injury. "It's way tougher than any of the physical stuff because there are a lot of doubts that go through your head, a lot of bad thoughts. I have kind of learned to shut those out and think positively. I don't allow myself to let the negative thoughts get in my head."
One way he has managed to keep the negative out is to focus not on what he can't do right now, but what he can do.
"Without the pressures of having to pitch or compete, I want to be as physically strong as possible," he said of his new focus. "I am doing a lot of running, core work, I'm in the weight room. The days are long and it is a lot of work, but hopefully it will be worth it in the end."
Hultzen returned home after his surgery for a short break and then it was off to Arizona for rehab in early November. Since then his focus has been on his new job, to get healthy.
"Instead of going out there and trying to win games, trying to strike people out, my focus has shifted a whole lot into No. 1, getting as healthy as possible and along with that as strong as possible," he said. "That's how I am looking at it."
Zduriencik has 'zero expectations' for Montero
Manager Lloyd McClendon said Thursday morning that he is looking at Jesus Montero with open eyes and that he will not close or open any doors for him. General manager Jack Zduriencik had stronger words about the player many hoped would be the right-handed power bat in the lineup for years to come, telling The Seattle Times that he has "zero expectations" for Montero.
He also said this during the offseason, but that was before Montero showed up to camp overweight. It is understandable that there would be a good amount of disappointment to learn that Montero's focus this offseason clearly was not on coming back ready to show the promise he once did. Reporting to camp 40 pounds overweight gets you noticed for all of the wrong reasons.
The hope had been that Montero would go home to Venezuela and get to work in winter ball. He did report to the Lara team relatively early, but after 21 games his name disappeared from the stats. It turns out he was in what was called a minor car accident and required three to five stitches across his knuckle. He was expected to miss just a few weeks and return by the end of November, but according to the game logs he played in just one more game, Dec. 27. Not the work the Mariners wanted to see from him.
• The bullpen sessions for Hernandez and Walker went well. In addition to Hultzen, another pitcher who probably should have been throwing alongside them was Hisashi Iwakuma, who instead stood behind and and watched. He exited the field with Hernandez and could be heard telling him through his interpreter that he looked good in his bullpen session.
• It was a busy day for Hernandez, who learned that he would be advancing to the semifinals of the #FaceofMLB contest after beating Joey Votto by 0.04 percent of the vote. After his work on the field he filmed his Mariners commercial. No word on whether or not he was able to find time for another bike ride.
Yes. That is a pink bike.
• From the "something to watch" department: Outfield drills were a bit of an adventure Thursday morning with strong winds making popups a challenge. The outfielders were separated into two groups – one with what looked like the center fielders and the other the corners – to work on popups and plays at the wall.
The center field group was Dustin Ackley, Abraham Almonte, Julio Morban and James Jones. Interestingly enough, Michael Saunders was with the corners. It is far too early to say that he is being moved to one of the corners (although former manager Eric Wedge and others thought he was more suited for that last year) but as I said, it's something to watch.
• Pro football Hall of Famer, former U.S. Representative and Seahawks legend Steve Largent stopped by camp Thursday morning and spent some time talking with McClendon and others. What did they talk about?
"He talked baseball and I talked football. I told him what a hell of a football player he was, he told me what a hell of a baseball player he was. We told a lot of lies," joked McClendon, a former running back.
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 6:55am
By Shannon Drayer
PEORIA, Ariz. – Good morning from a windy and somewhat chilly (77 degrees the forecasted high) Peoria. I think we will survive.
It has been interesting watching Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon around the cages. The hitting coach in him comes out, which has been great to see. It reminds me a lot of watching former Mariners manager Lou Piniella. If he sees something, he is quick to address it. Lots of conversations, lots of demonstrating. It is early, but it looks like he is building a good rapport with the hitters.
One thing he has been trying to change with a number of hitters is how they go about their batting practice.
"For me, hitting home runs in batting practice means nothing," McClendon said. "I want to see the path, I want to see you staying inside the ball. A lot of times a good swing means the ball doesn't leave the cage but the path was there. That's what I am trying to get my guys to understand."
Different players have different approaches to batting practice, approaches they have used for years. Coaches are sometimes hesitant to change a routine, but McClendon is not.
"If you don't like what you see, tell them," he said. "It's part of the process we have got to change. It hasn't been working. Like I told the players, it's about wins, not about developing. You have got to change and you have got to make adjustments."
McClendon encouraged by Montero
While Jesus Montero is all but buried in this camp, McClendon did say that he was encouraged by his work at first base and that his eyes are wide open with him.
"I am not closing any doors. I am not opening any doors. It is all up to him," he said.
McClendon told Montero that he is at a crossroads and that it was time to put up or shut up. In his eyes, he has one job to do.
"Get better," he said. "You get back to being the big-time prospect he was in New York. Part of that is getting himself in top physical condition, getting in touch with his mental side. He has got a lot of work to do. To his credit, he is putting the time in. We will see."
• We will see something a little new Thursday as hitters are scheduled for the first live-arm batting practice and will face a group of pitchers that includes – among others – Tom Wihelmsen, Lucas Luetge, Dominic Leone and Nick Hill. In recent years, more and more hitters have taken swings as opposed to just tracking in their first live-arm batting practice, so there could be a little excitement.
• Felix Hernandez and Taijuan Walker are scheduled to throw Thursday but will not throw to hitters.
• Felix narrowly beat out Joey Votto to move on to the semifinals in the #FaceofMLB competition on MLB.com and the MLB network. His next opponent will be the winner of the David Wright-Clayton Kershaw matchup. Felix is following the competition and even did some lobbying himself, calling a couple of voters who voted for him Wednesday on Twitter.
• Baseball America's Top 100 is out and three Mariners are on the list. Walker comes in at No. 11, DJ Peterson at 85 and James Paxton 99.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 @ 1:10pm
By Shannon Drayer
PEORIA, Ariz. – In his earliest days as a Mariner, it quickly became apparent that Kyle Seager was a video-room rat. If he wasn't on the field, in the batting cage or in the training room, chances were you would find Seager pouring over footage of not only his at-bats but those of other left-handed hitters as well.
The player he watched the most? Robinson Cano.
Back then he went to pains to point out that he was not thinking that he would be the next Cano. That was someone he could learn from, however. Why not watch one of the best left-handed hitters in the game?
Now, Seager has much more than a few swings on tape to watch and he plans on taking full advantage of the opportunity to learn from his new teammate.
As one of MLB's best left-handed hitters, Robinson Cano has plenty of wisdom to share with teammates. (Shannon Drayer)
"He is somebody that I always watched film of and I watched how he approached different pitchers. Watched his swing path and everything. It is unbelievable. I am definitely excited about that."
Cano, who aside from his experience in the World Baseball Classic, is in a new role as the veteran in the clubhouse. He welcomes the opportunity to teach and share.
"There's a lot of things I can tell young kids, but at the same time you have got to understand it is not on my hands," said Cano, who is 31 and entering his 10th season. "It is them willing to get help, to ask. If I see something I can tell them, but I am not going to be the guy all the time [saying], 'You have got to do this, you have got to do that.' "
Brad Miller found himself in the same batting practice group with Cano on the first day of full-squad drills, and after one round the two could be seen talking as Cano demonstrated a swing.
"Just being in the same group, trying to get a feel for what he is doing. It was pretty cool because he was pretty helpful just in general," Miller said. "We're just out there, he's just one of the guys and he was talking about what he likes to focus on and just talking hitting. It was very helpful."
Miller said that meeting Cano last month at Mariners FanFest helped break the ice a little bit.
"He really just seems like one of the guys, which is pretty cool," Miller said. "Very willing to share his experience. He told me then, 'Hey, I will be in the cage, so come fine me.' For a guy like me that's pretty cool, and I will try to learn as much as I can from him."
Seager is excited to talk hitting with Cano as well and perhaps more prepared to do so now than he was in his rookie year.
"The more I have learned about what I am trying to accomplish and what hitters in general are trying to accomplish, I think the more questions I have," he said. "It's been real good. I am excited to talk to him and pick his brain a little bit."
Both Miller and Seager were happy to see that like them, Cano is a player that enjoys talking hitting. Both players have proved to be be eager to use whatever resources they have at the major-league level to get better. Perhaps one of the best resources for a left-handed hitter now has a locker in the Mariners' clubhouse.
"It makes it easier on me," Miller said. "Everybody has different styles, different setups, but there are a couple of universal things that everyone has got to do to hit the ball and Seager and him do it pretty consistently. He does a lot of things really well that me and Kyle talk about – mechanics of hitting. He's kind of the poster child of what we are trying to do. It's fun getting to see him right there in person and getting his take on it and seeing what makes him tick."