In the Mariners spring training bout with the Arizona Diamondbacks today, new ace and enforcer Cliff Lee was ejected for throwing over Chris Snyder’s head. The two had gotten tangled up on a play at the plate earlier when Snyder was waving for a teammate to slide and Lee took him out going to back up the play. Snyder’s quote on the incident, taken from Baker’s blog, written by Good Guy Bob Condotta,
“Two guys going to where they need to be and we collided. Hell, he got me good, man. He Charley-horsed my leg. I still feel it. He almost clipped me twice. My leg hurt every time I squatted, then he threw a ball at my head. He’s up two-nothing on me. … He got me better than anybody coming around third. I aint been taken out like that in a couple of years (sic).”
His next time up, Lee threw one inside and then another that went over Snyder’s head. Snyder dropped his bat and took a few steps toward the mound, benches cleared, etc. Lee was ejected. The two said the earlier incident had no impact on the latter, Lee said he wasn’t throwing at him, everything played down like usual, although the benches did clear again later.
Anyway, good story, but what I’m really writing about is my response to the text Andrew sent me about Lee being ejected, which was, “Nice! Way to go Cliff! This team could do almost anything and I’d be excited.” And that’s totally how I feel about the Mariners right now. They have so much goodwill built up from last year, and they’re so genuinely fun to root for, that I’d almost rather hang out in the clubhouse with them than watch them play a game. Not that I don’t enjoy watching them play. They’re just an incredibly entertaining, enjoyable, dynamic team. Everything they do I get excited about. A short list of awesome things from spring training off the top of my head so far:
- Lee getting ejected
- Griffey and Sweeney putting together A Mariner Idol and then coaching a practice in the span of a couple of days
- Sweeney starting 12-15 when no one gave him a chance to even think about making the roster
- Tuiasosopo hitting almost .500 while playing 4 positions so far, one of which he was playing it for the first time in over 2 years even thought it’s the hardest position on the field (SS)
- Shawn Kelley possibly starting
- Garrett Olson being just as bad as last year, so as not to delude anyone
- Lopez and Chone trading positions, just because
- Wak’s never-ending positivity about everything, including Lopez’s continued errors
- Adam Moore playing like a good catcher and Rob Johnson not playing at all
- Byrnes and Moore (? I think) falling flat on their faces before reaching the bag in consecutive games
There’s just an overall feeling that this team can do no wrong. That’ll probably change at some point this year, but maybe not. Coupled with the realization that this team has a lot of really good players (Lee, Felix, Ichiro, Figgins, Guti, hopefully Bedard), it’s hard not to be excited. I don’t think we’ve discussed how great Felix, Lee and Bedard at the top of the rotation would be if Bedard comes back throwing well. Those are three pitchers who could each be the best in baseball any given year. Will it happen? Maybe, maybe not. But that’s kind of how the whole year is. Maybe they’ll win a lot, maybe not. It’s just the excitement of knowing there’s the possibility that’s enough for now.
A FEW QUICK NOTES AFTER THE JUMP!
- Rob Johnson started his first actual game. Sounded like he was about to be expected. Looked like no hits, although at least one ball hit hard. No noticeable problems behind the plate.
- Tui continued his tear, sort of. He managed to end the game by hitting a ball off the wall and then passing teammate James Jones on the basepaths, who was watching to see if it was caught. Jones, by the way, is a good name to watch for. Drafted out of high school last year as an outfielder when most thought he looked better as a pitcher, he got good reviews in Everett last year. Very athletic, he could just up the prospect ladder quickly with a good year, probably in Clinton (low A) I would guess.
- Some continued rumblings about Shawn Kelley maybe stretching out towards starting. He apparently asked Wakamatsu about the possibility, and they appear to be thinking about it. I’m sure they’ll see how he does when stretched out to three or four innings for relief and then go from there. If he can handle the workload and maintain his stuff, with just the typical downgrade in velocity going from relief to starting, it could be huge. He’s a potentially major replacement for Vargas, et al., and with experience could pass RRS and Snell too. Still a long shot at this point though. He did give up a homer today, but I’m not sure how the rest of his day went.
- As mentioned above, Sweeney had hits in his first two at bats to go to 12-15 for the spring. That’s an .800 BA, if you’re bad at the math. Not sure if he had any more plate appearances.
- Lee wasn’t really too great before the ejection. Still too early to be worried a lot about that, especially given how little he and Felix have thrown so far.
- Jack Wilson had a hit!
- Four more cuts the other day, still no one of consequence. In quick order: Brad Nelson: huge first baseman who could probably fill in okay for a week or two, but is about sixth on the depth chart for a reason. Tommy Everidge: Similar to Nelson, but right handed. Greg Halman: Incredibly toolsy, athletic and powerful outfielder who strikes out more than almost anyone anywhere. Will be at AA again, maybe AAA, still trying to put it together. On the miniscule chance he does, could be MVP type player. Mike Wilson: Powerful outfielder who just isn’t that great and is getting old for a prospect.