Spring training links, 2/16/14

Bruce Bennett

Can't keep up with all of the "best shape of his life" storylines? Here's what you might have missed.

As everyone starts reporting to camp, new tidbits about this team and how it'll play out begin to leak out. Ryan Divish and Bob Dutton have been doing an awesome job grabbing choice quotes and following developments, but I know I have a tendency to miss out on some of the tweets as they've been scattered about the weekend. Here's what you might have missed so far.

  • New hitting coach Howard Johnson is working with Mike Zunino and his swing, according to Divish. The hope is that Zunino's new, more upright stance will help him hit breaking pitches better. Johnson was the hitting coach in Tacoma last year, where Dustin Ackley hit the cover off the ball and came back to Seattle an improved hitter.
  • The Mariners signed Justin Smoak to a unique pre-arbitration contract, getting his services for $2.68 million in 2013, with a 525 plate appearance vesting option for 2015 at $3.65 million. If Smoak doesn't get 525 PA, it becomes a team option with a $150k buyout. It's a great deal for the Mariners - if Smoak manages to finally break out, they'll own him at a discount from what he'd get in arbitration. If he doesn't, they'll only have to pay him $150k when they would likely non-tender him anyways. I'm not sure what's in it for Smoak, as he loses a bunch of leverage he really didn't have to lose. It doesn't seem to be a deal that would indicate Smoak's agent has a lot of faith in him becoming a star.
  • Justin Smoak feels like the first base job is his to lose. Lloyd McClendon says he wants Smoak to be a "good hitter, not a home run hitter." So would we, Lloyd.
  • Corey Hart is expected to play more right field than Logan Morrison, via Bob Dutton. The team wants to be careful with their knees, but Lloyd McClendon said Morrison will get most of his time at 1B/DH.
  • Lloyd McClendon assures that Taijuan Walker's shoulder is "fine."
  • McClendon envisions Erasmo Ramirez as a starter, which isn't a surprise given the lack of other options available to take Iwakuma's place in the rotation.
  • Jesus Sucre is dealing with a minor ankle injury after a wayward Mark Rogers pitch.
  • Fernando Rodney will wear #56. He's worn the same number every stop in his MLB career.
  • Robinson Cano, Carlos Triunfel, and Abraham Almonte are the only players who haven't yet reported to camp. Cano has been in the Dominican Republic for the opening of the team's new facility.
  • The Indians signed Aaron Harang to a minor league deal.
  • Adam Rubin tweets that nobody else offered Bartolo Colon a two-year deal this offseason, resulting in his cross-country journey to New York. Looking at the Mariners rotation now, I bet the team wishes they'd gone to two.
  • The list of Ervin Santana suitors is long, according to Jon Heyman. But it seems that the Orioles, Blue Jays, and Mariners may be most sincere in their pursuit.
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