Cactus League Home Opener Matches Mariners, Only Other Team

That's the way it feels, anyway. The Mariners' first Cactus League game was against the A's. The Mariners' first home Cactus League game is against the A's. The Mariners' first regular season game is against the A's. The Mariners' first regular season game in America is against the A's. The Mariners' regular season home opener is against the A's. All of these special and somewhat special occasions, matching the Mariners against the A's. In terms of anticipated excitement level that's like matching the Mariners against a bowl of generic-brand corn flakes.

I'm seeing the words I'm typing through dry groggy eyes so let's try to get this over with as quickly as possible so I can slowly proceed with my day. The Mariners and A's start playing at 12:05pm Pacific. There is Gameday, and there is radio, with Rick Rizzs and Dave Sims. I don't know if there is wind like there was wind yesterday, but odds are against it because yesterday's wind was pretty extraordinary. I wouldn't be opposed to a stiff breeze blowing in towards home plate so Shawn Camp can feel better about his fastball. Also that would probably really irritate the hitters except for Eric Sogard. Speaking of the hitters, here's the Mariners' starting lineup:

Figgins, 3B
Ackley, 2B
Ichiro, RF
Smoak, 1B
Carp, LF
Olivo, C
Peguero, DH
Saunders, CF
Ryan, SS

I don't know how meaningful it is, but note that Smoak is batting cleanup while Carp is batting fifth. Carp spent a lot of time batting cleanup a year ago, and that was usually behind Ackley, who - like Ichiro - is a left-handed hitter. Now Smoak's moved up. Maybe this is a one-day thing, or maybe this is the plan, which of course could change within a few weeks of the start of the year depending on performances. We always make such a big deal about plans for Opening Day even though we shouldn't. Also note that this is another game in which Michael Saunders is batting in front of somebody. I hope Brendan Ryan doesn't start cutting.

Hector Noesi is starting on the mound, and he'll be followed by some combination of ten other available pitchers, including Kevin Millwood and Lucas Luetge. Philippe Valiquette is one of them, so beware potential triple-digit beanba-...actually, upon further review, Valiquette didn't hit a single batter last season in 65 innings. He's hit just six batters in his entire professional career. The reality of Philippe Valiquette doesn't quite match the image I have of him in my head. Which is good, and bad.

The Mariners got off to a good start on Friday, and that was with more of a B-squad lineup. You can tell that this is more of an A-squad lineup because it has Chone Figgins in it. If you want to win the Cactus League title, you can't afford to take days off. Here's hoping the Mariners get right to work.

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