All Smiles For Now

Though pitchers and catchers reported yesterday for the Mariners, their first official workout was today. As usual, everyone was all smiles. Just look at Mike Hargrove, who didn’t have many opportunities to turn his frown upside down last year.

So Mike, what do you think of some of the young pitchers, like Marcos Carvajal and Emiliano Fruto?

“Carvajal was impressive, so was Fruto and I like the way Meche and Pineiro threw. But the young guys caught my eye.”

If you’re asking who the $%!@ is Marcos Carvajal and/or Emiliano Fruto, don’t worry. Neither is likely to see much time in the majors this year because they aren’t ready, though Carvajal is a very good-looking prospect.

Hey Mike, what do you think about Seattle’s newest Japanese sensation, catcher Kenji Johjima?

“I liked the way he received the ball and I liked his energy level. I was curious to see how he swung the bat, and he swung it well. Everything I saw from Johjima was good. It was a good first day for him.”

Anything else Mike? I mean, Kenji is getting quite a bit of media attention!

“He is a very engaging guy and [dealing with so much attention] takes a lot of patience.”

Hold on, I’ve got to pinch myself. You mean to tell me there are a couple great-looking young pitchers AND a great-looking catcher in camp, even though there’s only been one day’s worth of workouts? No way! Hold on…I was wrong. Mike, what was that you just said about catcher Jeff Clement, Seattle’s first round draft pick (third overall) just last year?

“Give me an easy chair and a glass of tea and I can watch him swing the bat all day long.”

There’s TWO great catchers in camp! This is too good to believe. It’s almost like Mike Hargrove is pitching a product on an infomercial!

Like I said, everyone was all smiles because that’s just the nature of spring training. It’s great to hear and read about a bunch of great-looking players, put it’s got to be taken with a grain of salt. I have to admit, I want to hear that Marcos Carvajal looks good and that Jeff Clement has a ridiculous stroke. I want to believe that Kenji is the next Ichiro and that a couple veteran enigmas like Meche and Pineiro are on track for huge seasons. Frankly, I’d be deeply concerned if Hargrove wasn’t optimistic right now. However, it was the first day of workouts. We’re still a month and a half away from a pitch mattering (a couple weeks away if you count the World Baseball Classic) so all this great news has to be taken with a grain of salt. But then again, Mike could’ve just said he liked Clement, not that he wanted a lawn chair and a glass of tea…

Baseball Is Back

Alas, pitchers and catchers have reported! Well, at least for eight teams, including my favorite team the Mariners, and all they’ve really done is show up on a field somewhere and let the coaches know they’re alive. I know Seattle won’t even start official drills until Thursday, so nothing much really happens today.

However, pitchers and catchers reporting symbolize something so much bigger. For baseball-crazed fans like me, the winter is long, harsh, and cold, even with football and basketball. I have been longing for baseball and it has finally returned with pitchers and catchers reporting!

Spring may not start until March 20 according to the calendar, but if you ask me, it started today. The sun was shining (though it was awfully cold), and I could just imagine Jamie Moyer, Eddie Guardado, and many others driving up to the ballpark with duffle bags in hand and baseball on their minds. Soon drills will start, then spring training games, then several rounds of cuts, then a few exhibition games, and finally the actual season opener! Baseball has returned!