Wedge already sees improvements
Mariners manager Eric Wedge was thrilled with the conditioning of his pitchers and catchers when they showed up a week ago.
Seattle Times staff reporter
PEORIA, Ariz. — Mariners manager Eric Wedge was thrilled with the conditioning of his pitchers and catchers when they showed up a week ago.
And Saturday, after the team's first full-squad workout, he raved similarly about his position players.
"I don't think you can come out here and watch our position players, whether it be defensively or maybe particularly in the batter's box taking BP, and not see a difference," he said after the two-hour practice. "We're much further along. We're much better. We're going to be a much better offensive ballclub."
The Mariners have 67 players in camp, the final one being outfielder Mike Wilson, who on Saturday agreed to a minor-league deal. Wilson had been designated for assignment earlier in the month, but opted to return to the organization that drafted him in the second round in 2001. Wilson made his major-league debut last year.
"I always feel at home here," Wilson said. "I wouldn't mind looking somewhere else. But unfortunately, the timing was off a little bit. But it's always good to be back with Seattle."
Wedge said everyone "with the exception of a couple of guys" showed up in shape. He didn't name the culprits.
One player who is turning heads is Franklin Gutierrez, who is back to a muscular 200 pounds now that his Irritable Bowel Syndrome is under control.
"Guti looks great," Wedge said. "Without question, stronger. You can see it in his swing. And he's still moving around like he moves around in center field. I think he's the best in the game out there. I really feel strong he's going to have a heck of a year for us, all around."
Opening in Japan
Ichiro said he's looking forward to opening the season in Japan.
"It's a new experience, and it's definitely a different year," he said. "We've never had that opportunity before, so it's new for me and new for the team. This is something we'll probably have once in a lifetime. So I look forward to that, and I'd like to take advantage of that."