Before the pitchers and catchers took the field for the first time this spring Eric Wedge met with them as a group and they got their first taste of the intensity we have seen since he arrived in Seattle.
"It was different," Felix Hernandez said when asked if this was the same Wedge he saw off the field in Seattle. "He is intense. You see his eyes and he wants to win. It is good for us. We have a lot of young people here and it is good."
While Felix was looking at his skipper's eyes, the skipper was looking right back, taking in the reaction from his new team. He liked what he saw.
"Good eyes. I am a big believer in that, good eyes in the room," Wedge said. "They were all locked in. They were paying attention, the room felt good. I felt like they were hearing Carl (Willis), hearing me. It felt good."
The meeting was short. Wedge spoke for just a few minutes but got his message across, according to Shawn Kelley.
"It's going to be a lot more business this year," Kelley said. "Wedge was very stern about how there was going to be a respect and accountability factor this year. It's going to be a good direction. I think it is a change that maybe we needed."
There were a couple of rules announced.
"Be on time, and no earrings," said Felix, who was missing the giant sparklers usually seen on his ears. "But that's just on the field! I can wear my earrings in here."
Be on time, no earrings and no cell phones in the clubhouse. Have accountability and respect for the game. It wasn't hard for Wedge to capture his players' attention, according to Kelley.
"It was we are going to do things my way, the right way or we are going to find somewhere else for you to go," Kelley said. "He let us know right off the bat that there was going to be no messing around. We are going to get down to business and we are going to do things the right way. He's just got an intense approach about him when he starts to talk. It's pretty cool. I love it."
After hearing Wedge speak several times this winter I was a little surprised that his first meeting was a short one. He is clearly passionate about talking about the game, how to watch it as a fan, how it should be played. When it comes to getting down to work with his players he hopes to not have to make too many speeches.
"We do this to tell them what we are looking for," he said. "We talk about what are we going to stand for. What our expectations on a day-to-day basis are so we can quit talking about it and see it."