It’s sad to be in Pennsylvania while my parents are in Arizona with the Mariners and are sending us pictures like this one of Ichiro…
…, this one of new Mariner Jesus Montero…
…, this one of Felix (the catcher)…
…, this one of Smoak, Carp, Ichiro (with pink-lined shoes), Rick Griffin and Guti…
…, this one of Dustin Ackley…
…, this one of Hisashi Iwakuma…
…, this one of King Felix pitching…
…and this one of a foul ball my dad caught today and then got signed in Japanese by Ikawuma:
As explained by our friend Nao: “top, “岩” (IWA=rock); 2nd, “隈”, (KUMA=corner, shadow); 3rd, “久” (HISA, eternity); bottom, 志（SHI, will).”
Okay. That’s a lot of fun in Arizona.
But, while we don’t have any Mariners here in Pennsylvania, we do have baseball!
This past weekend, Tim and I headed to our favorite local ballfield with our buddy Greg for some catching, throwing and hitting. Tim focused on the hitting.
He had a lot of fun with his new baseball bats. Here is a single to right:
A little fun with photo editing resulted in this picture of Tim’s batting motion:
Near the end of our practice, I got two two pictures that did not require any photo editing (although they may look like they did). Tim took a mighty swing but came up empty on this pitch from Greg:
FYI, that is a cloth Rawlings training ball so it did not hurt when it nailed me behind the plate (I was using a camera only, no glove).
And I saved the best for last. Tim’s wicked 6-year-old bat speed made his new metal bat look like a flimsy piece of swing cheese on this swing:
While we are quietly longing to be in Peoria with our Mariners (and Grandma and Grandpa), an afternoon playing baseball at the park is a great alternative!
And he met a little friend (just to the left of Tim in the last picture) named Sean to play around with. My dad and Sean’s dad, the guy with the blue shirt and glove right in the middle of the picture, were my main foul ball competition. Both my dad and I only played for fouls until we got one, then we concentrated on watching the game. As that last sentence implies, yep, we both got one.
As best as I can tell:
In the fifth installment of our series of Spring Training updates, we’ve assembled our favorite family photos from Spring Training. These are photos taken while the Mariners were practicing, but they focus on one or more members of our family (mostly Tim) and show a different perspective on the Spring Training experience.
Here is one of our first pictures from Spring Training 2011:
By the way, here is a closer look at the map of the Peoria Sports Complex:
In the picture of Tim pointing at the sign, he is standing at the “M” (inside a diamond) just below and to the left of practice field M3. If you follow the walkway from that “M” straight up the map, you will reach a circle with a blue box inside it (between M3, M6 and M2). That circle/blue box is a concession stand and restrooms. The lines running left and right from the concession stand/restrooms are cement walkways that run down the middle of large strips of grass. The grass and walkways run all the way from a fence that connects M1 and M7 (right around the infield dirt of both fields) to another fence that connects M3 and M4 (also right around the infield dirt of both fields). All of that grass area is open to the public during Mariners workouts.
Pretty much the first thing we’d do each day (assuming the Mariners weren’t out on the fields already) was head to the grass between the player parking lot at M2.
The grass areas are perfect for playing catch with you father or your son (or both). As everyone else waited down by the player entrance, this is where we set up for some catch:
FYI, that building down there on the left is the indoor batting cages.
Tim has got a lot better at catching and throwing over the last 6 months. His catching improved dramatically when we got him a smaller glove that he can actually close! Here, he fields a grounder:
Sometimes Tim’s throws are perfect. Other times, he throws like Rick Ankiel at the end of his pitching career. Thus, I have to be ready for anything when he uncorks a hard throw:
As the Mariners head out to on in from M3-M6 before or after a work out, its an ideal time to get up and close for your favorite players. Here, my mom got some shots of Mariners walking by and giving Tim “five” as they headed out to M3:
M6 seems to get the least action…or at least the fewest spectators…so its a nice place to hit without having to worry about other fans getting in the way.
Here are two great pictures Colleen took of Kellan watching Tim pitch to my mom as I play the field:
Kellan missed the first day of Spring Training workouts because the rain was threatening, the wind was gusting, and he was tired. So he made his debut at Spring Training the next day, and this was his first picture “watching” the M’s prepare for the 2011 season:
There are a bunch of bushes and small trees between M4 and M5. Here, Tim climbs in a tree (with M4 behind him):
WIth seven practice fields and 60+ players running around from field-to-field plus getting to play catch and hit with your family members, there is a lot going on at Spring Training. Tim couldn’t stay put in one place for too long. He had to go, go, go:
In the picture above to the right, Miguel Olivo is trying to shake Tim’s hand, but Tim has a handful of rocks. Instead of shaking Miguel’s hand, Tim opened his palm and showed Olivo the rocks he had collected beyond the M3 RF wall.
One day, Colleen fed Kellan a bottle while sitting on a little stone wall that circles the concession stand. Tim took a break from his own BP and ran over to his mommy and spelled his name in the gravel:
The picture above to the right is the actual picture of Luke French that Tim is taking in the picture above to the left. I thought that this was funny because right before taking this picture, Tim said to me, “Look, daddy, its the number of Christmas!”
Tim did most of the batting when we took BP beside M6. But my mom and I took a few hacks too. Here is a hilarious picture of Tim throwing at his grandma:
Shortly after the last picture, a bunch of Mariners outfielders started warming up down the M6 LF line just on the other side of the fence from out little BP site. We took a break from BP to watch the guys play catch. When Greg Halman caught the last ball thrown by his partner, I called out, “Hey, Greg!” He turned around and I pointed down to Tim. About 5-10 seconds later, I took this picture of Tim:
While Tim was pitching to my mom, I took a long range photo across the grassy area of Colleen and Kellan watching some pitchers warm up:
One last fun family photo for this entry:
Tim loves trying to push these big baseballs — click here for proof. As for Kellan, he might have had a little help (hidden mostly behind the baseball) sitting up on top of that big baseball for this picture.
As I think these pictures show, the lazy days hanging around the Mariners Spring Training workouts at Spring Training are great.
A great thing about Spring Training is that its much easier to meet, chat and get your photo with players on your favorite team. We love to get pictures with Mariners, and that was a major goal during our recent trip to Peoria. So, let’s take a look at what we got.
At Mariners Spring Training the best spot for getting your picture with a Mariner is in the long strip of grass leading from the batting cages behind the Mariners administrative office to practice field M3. There is a roped off strip down the length of the grassy area where the players walk out to the practice fields. That is where we got most of the following pictures.
First up, we ran into Adam Moore:
Moments later, it was Garrett Olson’s turn to pose with Tim:
The Mariners have two superstars — Ichiro and Felix Hernandez. We’ve wanted to get a picture with Ichiro for a long time. But its almost impossible. Felix, however, is another story. We got our picture with him in 2009 at Fenway Park. Tim was happy to meet up with Felix again in Peoria:
Before this trip, neither Tim nor I had ever got our picture with a major league manager. Well, new Mariners manager Eric Wedge was all over the place at Spring Training. And he was happy to lean in real close and smile big for this picture with Tim:
Note: In that picture, Tim is looking at me (taking this same picture on my camera) and Wedge is looking at my mom. This was a common problem during Spring Training. We got a bunch of pictures where one person is looking at one camera and the other is looking at another camera. Oh, well.
Our first baseball of spring training came from Mariners reliever, Chris Seddon. Moments later, Chris was posing for a picture with me and Tim:
It was actually quite funny. We took a first picture with Chris and me standing up straight behind Tim. Then Chris suggested that we get down on Tim’s level, which resulted in the picture above. Personally, I get a chuckle out of it each time I look at Seddon leaning with his hands on his knees and smiling for the camera. Seddon also took time out to say hello to the King of Camden Yards, Avi Miller:
Moments later, David “The D.A.” Aardsma rolled by on his flatbed golf cart and posed for a picture with Tim:
D.A. had surgery recently and was on crutched at the beginning of our trip. However, by the end of our trip he was off the crutches and hobbling around under his own power. At the end of the trip, we also got DA to sign a baseball for us:
I was quite excited to get this picture of Tim with Mariners phenom, Michael Pineda:
Before this trip, I’d never seen Pineda in person. Let me tell you, you cannot miss him. He is HUGE! If he wasn’t crouched down with Tim in this picture, his knees would probably be at Tim’s head level! (Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but he is huge). Pineda also signed this baseball for us:
Former and new Mariner Miguel Olivo was extremely nice to Tim:
After signing a baseball for us, Miguel crouched down and started chatting with Tim. He tried to shake Tim’s hand, but Tim was holding a fist full of authentic Arizona rocks. Instead of a handshake, Miguel was treated to a look at the rocks Tim had collected during catcher’s BP. Here is a look at the baseball Miguel signed for us:
For our first foray into the 2011 MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt competition, Tim got this picture with Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik:
He always gets excited when I mention we live in Pennsylvania, where he was raised. The first time (of many) we saw Jack on this trip, it was just barely drizzling. Jack was passing by us when he asked me “did you bring this [the rain] with you?” This is a common question that anyone from Seattle gets asked whenever they are in another state and it starts raining. I personally have had to answer this question about 40,000 times in my life. I responded, “Not me, we just flew in from Pennsylvania.” Jack was already past me (driving a golf cart) when he heard this and he immediately stopped and came back to ask me where we live in Pennsylvania.
Another top Mariners executive (and minority owner) was usually hanging around the fields during our trip. It was Howard Lincoln, Mariners Chairman, CEO, minority owner, and representative of the Mariners corporate majority owner, Nintendo. This picture of Tim and Howard Lincoln is another MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt picture:
Note: In this picture, Tim is standing on the back of a golf cart. If you click to enlarge the picture, you can see a tag hanging over the steering wheel that says, “Jack Z.” Yep, that was the golf cart Jack was driving when he asked if we brought the rain with us.
As already shown in our recent entry, we had a great interaction and got several pictures with…
The day we got the Milton Bradley bat was crazy. Its the same day we got the Luke French autograph (featured in our last entry). It was the same day as the Howard Lincoln picture. And it was the same day as the next six player pictures.
First up at the end of the daily workout session, Franklin Gutierrez a/k/a “Death to Flying Things”:
Next up, Mainers firstbaseman, Justin Smoak:
This was as good as we could do with respect to getting our picture with top Mariners prospect Dustin Ackley:
We also didn’t get a traditional, posed picture with Mariners outfield prospect, Greg Halman:
We had a nice chat with local Seattle product and all around good guy, Matt Tuisasosopo:
Tim was right with us during these last five pictures, but he didn’t want to get in any of the pictures. I was bummed about it because we’d still never had a picture with both Tim and Kellan and a player — every picture has either been one or the other.
That all changed when Ryan Langerhans passed by us. Tim asked Ryan to sign our Greg Halman baseball and then all of us posed for this picture:
Lower left: Justin Smoak 17
Lower right: Ryan Langerhans
At Mariners/Padres Fan Fest at the Peoria Sports Complex’s main stadium, Tim got this picture with Greg Zaun:
It’s Tim’s first picture with a Padre. See that baseball Zaun is holding? The first 400 kids at Fan Fest got a little back pack with Mariners and Padres baseball cards, a baseball, a sharpie and some other stuff in it. The baseball wasn’t a ROMLB. It was some random brand with an advertisement for a baseball card shop on it. It wasn’t a great baseball for autographs, but Tim ended up having a bunch of people sign it. Actually, its unfortunate he didn’t use our spare ball that a fan gave Tim a couple days earlier for all of those autographs. Oh, well, Tim was quite happy to collect a bunch of autographs on his door prize baseball.
Thanks again, Luke!
Our final picture with a Mariner was this group shot with the Mariner Moose, also at Fan Fest:
As you can see, Spring Training was excellent in terms of getting pictures with Mariners. We didn’t get our picture with Ichiro, but we knew that was a long shot, even at Spring Training. Other than Ichiro, the only player who I really wanted to get a picture with, but failed to do so, was Mariners pitcher, Jason Vargas. But maybe we can track him down during the regular season. We will see.
Last October 1st, we took Kellan to his first game. The Mariners took on the Athletics and I snapped this photo…
Last season, Tim and I tracked down his “first batter,” Frank Catalanotto, and got him to sign Tim’s “first pitch” picture:
We’ve still never tracked down Tim’s first pitcher, the recently retired Gil Meche. But I was hoping that we would be able to get both Luke French and Rajai Davis to sign Kellan’s first pitch picture during Spring Training. Unfortunately, Davis was traded to Toronto and is in Florida for Spring Training.
Therefore, our number one goal for Spring Training was to get an autograph from and photo with Luke French.
We kept an eye on Luke from the first day of our Spring Training trip…
Still, we kept an eye on Kellan’s first pitcher that day as he threw a session in the Mariners huge bullpen (its about 10 pitchers mounds wide):
A couple days later (the same day Milton Bradley gave Kellan his bat), we were still looking to connect with French. In fact, tracking down and getting a picture/autograph with French was the sole goal of the day before we planned on leaving the Peoria Sports Complex early to go on a tour of Chase Field.
As the Mariners made their way out of the clubhouse, they were all business. I didn’t see French as he made his way out to the practice fields. But it didn’t matter because all of the players were telling fans they couldn’t sign autographs until after practice.
Once we headed out of the field, Luke was there…
As I mentioned in the Milton Bradley entry, my mom, Colleen and Kellan hung out watching live BP on the main field during most of this practice session. After getting in his work, French grabbed a bucket and sat down (about 25 feet in front of my mom, Colleen and Kellan) to watch live BP on the M3 practice field:
After a while, French hopped up from his perch and milled around a little bit behind home plate. As Tim snapped this picture, Luke was exuding a strong “I’m about the leave” vibe:
There was no time to wait for her thoughts, I grabbed Kellan’s picture (which I had in a protective portfolio folder) and scurried around home plate and toward the other end of the complex.
This aerial photo shows my path in yellow and French’s path in red:
I was trailing behind French and he must have heard footsteps because he turned around and stopped in his tracks and waited for me to catch up. I asked Luke if he could sign something for me, and he said “no problem.”
I felt a little weird with the portfolio in hand because Spring Training is chalk full of sports memorabilia dealers who carry big notebooks full of baseball cards and glossy photos and collect autographs to take back to their shops to sell. I showed Luke the picture and explained that it was the first pitch of my son’s first game. And I flipped through the portfolio to show him that it was empty except for this picture — i.e., I was not just a random dealer looking to make a buck. It seemed like he appreciated that.
Luke happily signed the picture for me. I thanked him profusely and explained that I was sad that Kellan was asleep in the bleachers because I had wanted to get his picture with Luke. I told him we would try to catch up with him again by the end of the week. He said okay and we parted ways.
I ran back over to M3 and “showed” Kellan his newly improved “first pitch” picture:
By the end of the week, we’d still never run into French again. It was Saturday, and the Mariners/Padres fan fest was our last opportunity to track down French during Spring Training.
Fan Fest, which will get its own entry soon enough, featured a bunch of games for kids in the concourses of the Peoria Sports Complex main stadium and a work out by both teams on the field. The Padres went first.
Around 11:00 a.m., we knew the Mariners would show up soon so my mom, dad, Colleen, Tim, Kellan and I gathered together down the 1B line in hopes of getting a picture with Ichiro (a still as of yet unfulfilled goal) as he entered the stadium through the players entrance in the rightfield corner.
Eventually, the Mariners arrived en mass. While I didn’t see Ichiro anywhere (at least at first), I saw Luke French front and center:
He’s the player closest to the camera with his glove on his left hip in that last picture. The guys were down the line about 20 feet from the end of the seats in foul territory. Several of the Mariners ventured on the field to chat with some of the Padres.
None of the fans around us made any attempt to chat with or lure any of the Mariners over toward the stands. I thought, “what the heck,” and I called out, “Hey, Luke!” I figured that with a crowd of his teammates all around, French would probably appreciate it if someone singled him out. He did.
He turned and looked at me like, “Huh, what’s up?” I gave him a big “hey, come over here” wave. Three seconds later, Kellan’s first pitcher was standing next to us along the foul line.
I asked if he’d pose for a picture with my son and, when he said yes, I handed Kellan over to him. I explained that we’d met earlier in the week and he’d delivered the first pitch of Kellan’s MLB career. Luke remembered our first encounter and he was happy to meet Kellan and pose for pictures:
He must have thought the paparazzi were descending on him because my mom and Colleen both pulled out their cameras and we attacked the photo opportunity from three angles:
Thanks, Luke! And best of luck in 2011!
I received a funny email today. The author was Sara, from ScoreboardGourmet.com. I’d never heard about website before. It is a site that is dedicated to discussing the food served a sports stadiums. An interesting idea.
Sara was writing to ask permission to use one of my photos in one of her entries. I agreed. And just like that (as my father-in-law put it), I became a hot dog model. Here I am, modeling the “Ruthian” at the Peoria Sports Complex, spring home of the Seattle Mariners:
And here is the link to the full entry. If you’re in Peoria, be sure not to miss the Ruthian.
My parents are two of the luckiest people around. During the regular season, they live at my boyhood home about 15 miles from Safeco Field. During Spring Training, they live at their winter home about 3 miles from the Mariners spring training home — the Peoria Sports Complex.
Before the 2008 season began, Colleen, Tim and I headed to Peoria to meet up with my folks and my Mariners for some Spring Training.
Courtesy of Google Maps, here is an aerial view of the Peoria Sports Complex:
At the top center is the stadium where the Mariners and Padres play their home spring training games. The Mariners spring training fields are below to the left. The two fields to the far left are the Mariners Single-A training fields. The next two fields to the right are the Mariners Double-A and Triple-A fields. Next, is the Mariners secondary Major League field. Above that field is the Mariners administrative building and parking lot. Next to the administrative building to the right is the Mariners primary Major League field. Below the primary field, is a partial field where they do infield drills.
Then on the right side, the Padres have a mirror image of the Mariners training fields.
Spring training is incredibly cool and relaxing. One thing I love is all of the open grass between the training fields. It is a perfect set up that allowed us to watch the Mariners run drills and take BP while my dad and I played a lot of catch:
Those pictures are all taken in the grass between the Mariners Major League fields and the administrative building, which also has a big bullpen set up and indoor batting cages lining the big open grass area. In fact, you can see the bullpens behind my dad and Tim in the top two of the last four-picture set.
In the first day or two of our trip, we just watched the Mariners training. Here is Ichiro watching Raul Ibanez taking BP on the main field:
On our first day there, we ran into Mariners catching prospect Adam Moore who was working out one-on-one with a coach on the secondary Major League field…
…after he finished up, we got his autograph on one of the baseballs Tim had collected earlier in the day and got Tim’s first picture with a professional ballplayer. Finally, at the end of 2009, Moore made the Mariners major league roster. Hopefully we will see a lot of him in 2010.
I really enjoyed watching the Minor Leaguers…
Ah, remember how I mentioned it is relaxing at Spring Training…
…this is an ideal way to spend a morning, relaxing with your family and playing catch with your dad while watching the Mariners prepare for the regular season.
Yep, and then we got more baseballs…
Spring Training is also good for normal bats too…
…that’s a bat that my dad got from a Mariners minor leaguer. No cracks or anything. Just a nice fully-intact bat. Tim and I got two bats from minor leaguers as well, both with small cracks.
Here’s another cool part of Spring Training…
While my dad and I would play catch, Tim would run around with his grandma…
Soon, it was time for some games, so we would head to the main stadium in the afternoons:
Here is a view of the main stadium:
Here is a view of where we sat at most of the games:
When we arrived at Spring Training, they’d already played a bunch of games. And Ichiro was batting .000 (zero hits so far). He was something like 0-20.
His luck would change as soon as we arrived. Actually, he didn’t play in our first game. But in his very first at-bat that Tim and I saw him have in the spring, he got his first hit of the spring…
During one of the games, I took “The Ruthian” challenge:
On this trip, I also was able to achieve a life long dream…
…my first ever Mariners game (or any professional baseball game) on my birthday. I always wished growing up that I could have rounded up a bunch of my friends and gone to a Mariners game on my birthday. But its hard to do when you weren’t born during the baseball season. So this was a real special treat for me. And, as a special gift, Ichiro and Adrian Beltre both hit a homerun for me, and the Mariners got me the win.
For our final spring training game, we sat on the outfield berm…
But we still managed to get a picture that I absolutely love:
BUT WAIT…our pre-season baseball wasn’t finished yet.
Several of my colleagues are big Phillies fans and share the “weekend” ticket package…or maybe its just the “Sunday” ticket package. Whatever. The Phillies had two more pre-season games after breaking camp in Florida. They call it the “On Deck” series. And one of my colleagues gave us their tickets because no one in the group was going to use them.
So, a day or two before opening day, Tim and I headed down to Philadelphia for a freezing cold game against the Blue Jays.
This was our view from our seats in Section 130:
Okay, he wasn’t really saying that. But I LOVE that picture. Hilarious.
It was so cold that we gave up our excellent seats and headed over to the sunny seats in the leftfield porch:
I was fine leaving early. So we made a deal that we’d leave after spending one inning behind the Phils dugout watching Moyer up close. We made our way over there in time to see Pat Burrell step to the plate…
We got a great close-up view of Moyer on the mound:
And with that, we called it a day, and a pre-season, and we went home and waited for our favorite holiday, Mariners opening day.