Originally written February 14, 2013 on NorthWest Sports Beat:
I love spring training It is a time speculation and expert opinion about what the coming year will look like, where the M’s will place in their division and what players will make the 40 man roster for opening day. It is a chance to see the possibilities of the future as the Mariners prospects play alongside the veterans. What is bad about spring training are the skewed stats that make one believe that the Mariners are going to win every game. However, I am going into this spring with a game plan to help me prepare myself for reality. Justin Smoak’s swing Smoak ended last season on a tear that snapped his season long “warm up”. With the Mariners adding so many players as eligible 1st base candidates, the leash for Smoak with be short. When Smoak comes to bat I am going to be looking for a consistent, smooth and quick bat. Last season he swung at a lot of bad pitches and couldn’t catch up with the good pitches. This is a strong young guy that was once the top 1st base prospect in the game. He isn’t a guy aging out, he should be able to make the adjustment or he will find himself in a Tacoma uniform. Jesus Montero’s feet Will Smoak last this year in Seattle? (Photo: Seattle Times) After losing John Jaso and Miguel Olivo, the M’s are putting a lot of weight on their prized steal from the Yankees to be more of an everyday catcher.The M’s have picked up Kelly Shoppach and Ronnie Polino to add to their young catching corps, including raging hot prospect Mike Zunino, but Montero is the only one that has worked with the pitching staff before. Aside from that leadership component I will be looking at his footwork behind the plate, and his speed on the basepaths. Last season the young man proved to hit better on the days he was catching instead of DH’ing but his footwork will determine his role on this club. It will also be interesting to see what sort of implications come out of his name being on the steroid doctor’s list and how that affects him mentally. Dustin Ackley’s gameplay Apparently Ackley played through some painful bone spurs in his ankle last season, yet still provided better than expected defense at second base. I’ve had ankle problems myself and I can tell you there is no way I could have played in 153 baseball games in this past year. It goes to show what an incredible athlete he is. However, I really hope to see why he was a top draft pick for the M’s, Seattle needs a win. Mike Carp’s options Carp proved one thing last season, that he shouldn’t be playing the outfield. However with the addition of Jason Bay, Raul Ibanez, and Michael Morse, it would seem that Carp is a man without much of a chance of making the team. He is also out of minor league options at this point so if the M’s don’t keep him on the roster, they could lose him to another team. If he has spent the offseason getting in shape he could make that decision really difficult. Editors note: Mike Carp was DFA’d on Tuesday afternoon. Danny Hultzen’s control With the loss of Jason Vargas, the M’s are without a left handed starter moving into this season. Hultzen could potentially fill that gap if he proves himself against major league hitters. He struggled in AAA last season, so he could use some more seasoning, but it would be great to be wowed by the young man. Editors note: Left hander Joe Saunders was signed officially on Tuesday afternoon. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE SEATTLE MARINERS CLUBHOUSE AT NWSB!
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