After a brief detour through the Metrodome, its back to Spring Training. We still have a few more reports to go from the desert. This one has no real *story* per se, its just a bunch of pictures. It does, however, have a theme: practice. We took a bunch of nice pictures of Mariners doing the hard work of preparing for the 2011 season and its time to share them.
Each morning, the entire Mariners major league camp would report to practice field M3 for a big stretching routine:
You can always expect to see the guys playing a lot of catch at Spring Training:
Above, Ichiro is playing catch with…hmm…probably Milton Bradley on practice field M1.
The Mariners coaching staff hits hours of fungo to the Mariners infielders during Spring Training. Here, Justin Smoak gloves a grounder on the first day of full team workouts on M2:
Josh Wilson got into the action right next to Smoak:
Across the diamond, Chone Figgins — back at his native third base — got hand cuffed by this grounder, but made the play:
Between fields M1 and M2, there is a little half field (infield only). Here, Dustin Ackley practices taking grounders at second base on the short field:
The pitchers spend a lot of time re-learning how to field their position during Spring Training. Here, big Michael Pineda practices his pick off move as a bunch of his colleagues watch:
This next picture is hilarious to me. This was the first day of full squad workouts and the coach (cannot remember which one) said, “First grounder of the season!” and then hit this ball to King Felix Hernandez a/k/a Larry Bernandez:
The look on Felix’s face is priceless. FYI, despite his surprised look, he did catch the ball.
Cook & Son Hall of Famer Jason Phillips was working the fungo a bunch the week we were in Peoria. Here is an action fungo shot of Jason on M4:
Erik Bedard has been a pleasant surprise this Spring. He is flat out pitching like a stud and finally looking like he might live up to the original hype. Here he is getting in his work in the mega-bullpen between M3 and M4:
Three or four mounds over from Bedard, King Felix was strutting his Cy Young-stuff:
In a little strip of random grass between M2 and M7 (the half field), Ichiro, Dustin Ackley and a couple other guys played a little pepper:
Someone peppered a hot one Ichiro’s way and Ichi had to make an acrobatic catch at close range:
What makes this next picture cool was unintentional and hard to decipher. However, if you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will see that I captured two balls in the air — Figgy gunned a ball to Justin Smoak that appears in the upper lefthand corner of the photo and Brendan Ryan his underhanding a second baseball to 2B:
As I said, lots of pitcher fielding practice. Here, Jason Vargas, Luke French and Brandon League handle hot shots back up the box:
And here is another hilarious picture of King Felix fielding his position — he did not catch this one:
But Ichiro caught this one (during outfielder practice on M5):
You can get so close to your favorite players during Spring Training that its almost ridiculous. Here, Tim played in the warning track dirt just behind Ichiro waiting his turn at the plate:
One day, the guys all came out to practice and the outfielders reported to M6. Ichiro was all set to play catch with Milton Bradley when he realized he’d forgot his glove in the clubhouse. Ichiro’s interpreter, Anthony Suzuki, bolted off to the clubhouse and came cruising back with Ichiro’s glove:
Michael Saunders tracks this ball in the birght Arizona sun during outfielders practice on M6:
More pitcher fielding practice — Erik Bedard doesn’t show the best form while snaring this grounder from the short stop position:
One last group of photos, all of Ichiro. I took the picture of Ichiro in the top left (below)…
…Tim took the other three from close range.
So there you go, a look behind the scenes at Spring Training practice. For my money, practice is where the fun is at Spring Training.