Hello and welcome back to this weird version of baseball. As we did yesterday, we’re annotating Tuesday’s workouts for those of you with neither the time nor inclination to watch the stream.
Today’s workouts were a little different from Monday’s since there’s actual commentary on the first couple hours of the stream, so if just watching players run around silently in T-Mobile Park isn’t your jam, tune in to the first two hours of workouts to hear interviews in a more traditional spring training broadcast format.
[Side note: the reason the streams are silent is because the Mariners don’t have rights to the music they’re playing in the ballpark, which is weird because I feel like that isn’t an issue when ROOT broadcasts batting practice? But also, Mariners, get on the horn, maybe Luke Bryant or Guns and Roses wouldn’t give you the rights but maybe some Latin artists would be perfectly happy to be broadcasted out widely to an English-speaking audience. And also I have a Spotify playlist made of the songs our Latin prospects put on their Instagram stories and am happy to share that as a soundtrack. Carne pa los tiguere and whatnot.
- Taijuan Walker leads off live BP today. Apparently Tai hasn’t missed a step with his former teammates and there was plenty of trash talk to be had:
“Yesterday Seager and Dee said they wanted a piece of me so I asked Skip to put them in there against me today.” Taijuan Walker on his live BP today. Said there was a lot of trash talking with those guys pic.twitter.com/DPatyjloVn— Jen Mueller (@JenTalksSports) July 7, 2020
Standing in the batter's box, Kyle Seager lowered to his mask so he could make sure that Taijuan Walker, who was on the mound, could hear the words (trash talk) coming out of his mouth during live BP. Photo @deanrutz pic.twitter.com/expz4JzauH— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) July 7, 2020
Look, there’s a lot about this year that’s weird, but baseball players’ absolute delight in wearing each other out is a settling constant.
- Today the broadcast has sound! and guests! First up is Assistant GM Justin Hollander, who does a weirdly perfect Dipoto impression. Hollander explains Tai has worked on his delivery, adjusted slightly to hopefully put less stress on his TJ-repaired elbow/shoulder. He faces Dee Gordon and Kyle Seager, looking fairly comfortable, playfully arguing with Dee about a hit being an out.
- Next, Brandon Brennan jumped in to face Vogey, and Hollander noted that the M’s tried to sign Brennan as a minor league free agent but lost him to the Rockies, but liked him so much they promptly huffed “We’ll show you!” and took him in the Rule 5 draft. The rest, as they say, is 2019 history.
- Hollander anticipates Sam Delaplane pitching in the majors this year. Delaplane makes Evan White look silly (sorry Evan) on a couple of wipeout sliders. A couple of walks follow as Delaplane seems to be overthrowing a bit.
- Gerson Bautista comes up next, with a few heavily bundled hitters in the box against him. In spring, Bautista had an impressive showing with his slider, which would have been a boon for one of the more overpowering pitchers in Seattle’s system that nonetheless struggled due to command and predictability.
- SPEAKING OF, Bautista loses a fastball and it glances off the front of Jake Fraley’s helmet. Fraley looks okay, walking around and not looking impacted, but they pull him for what is hopefully mere precaution. Tim Lopes steps in looking a shade less comfortable, but Bautista gets back closer to the zone. [Note: Fraley will return to BP later in the day.]
- Ryan Divish is on the broadcast for Bautista’s pen into the setup for the first BP of the day and provides insight on a variety of topics, including the Mariners’ fringe fab players like Tom Murphy, Austin Nola, and Tim Lopes, and what they’ve done to carve out roles with the club. He also tells some fun stories about Griffey roasting him, his first year covering the team, and Dave Niehaus’s cocktail of choice, and it’s worth just listening to it even though there’s no action on the field for the last part of the interview.
- Someone gave Andy McKay the controls to the stadium video ribbons, which currently say “DOMINATE THE ZONE.” I think they should let him do this in-season once fans return, too. Just little tidbits to help us with life: “FILE YOUR TAXES”, “COMMUNICATION IS IMPORTANT”, “MIKE TROUT HAS NEVER WON A PLAYOFF GAME”, “THE ASTROS CHEATED”, things like that.
- Dave Sims is next up on the broadcast talking about what New York City was like in the time of COVID. For some reason I have been under the impression Dave Sims spent his off-season in Philly eating cheesesteaks and building a museum to the Philadelphia Sound so this news is jarring, to say the least. Sims also gives some thoughtful perspective on the Black Lives Matter movement and the roundtable he hosted a few weeks ago, so even though there’s no action on the field at this time, it’s worth a listen.
- There’s infield practice at this time as well, again from the very difficult center field camera angle but it looks to be Seager, Dee at SS, and maybe Tim Lopes at second? Anyway the interesting part here is listening to Sims, who drops an Al Oliver comp on Shed Long, and also just the comfort of listening to the back-and-forth of Rizzs and Sims.
- Still nothing much intelligible happening on the field, but Gary Hill is on the broadcast next, for you Mariners history buffs out there. Rizzs is talking about how he saved the announcement from the final game before the shutdown, a game I (Kate) was at, a rain-shortened affair against the Padres where the Mariners’ young hitters got to Dinelson Lamet and Mackenzie Gore. I had no idea, walking out of the ballpark that night, that that would be the last time I walked out of a ballpark for...a year? More than that?
- Hill confirms there will be piped-in crowd noise on the radio broadcasts this season for several reasons, one of which is to mask the sound of players reacting in non-family-friendly ways on the field in ways that would surely echo throughout a largely empty stadium. Which prompts us to ask: who on the Mariners do you think has the worst potty mouth?
- After some delay it’s BP time again. A masked-up Kyle Lewis is first in the box, followed by what looks like Tom Murphy, and Seager again. Who by the way, definitely has the worst potty mouth. It’s always the ones you don’t expect. That staff is also arguing strenuously for Vogey, but I could really see Seager channeling the dad from A Christmas Story and winning for sheer breadth and creativity. Anyway, Kyle Lewis looks more settled-in in the box than he did yesterday, and Tom Murphy continues to look extremely #stronk, bashing baseballs all over the dang place.
- The next BP group includes Evan White, a masked-up Jose Marmolejos (who also has a new baby at home), Jake Fraley who is thankfully back on the field, and someone who we think is Brian O’Keefe. The broadcast wasn’t tracking ball flight today but it sure looked like Marmo was using his new dad strength to hit some tanks.
- The next BP group has Patrick Wisdom, we think, who is used to Seattle’s weather and therefore the only player on the field wearing short sleeves, followed by Tim Lopes and also Vogelbach.
- Vogey stepped in for one session and casually just hit what looked like 4 or 5 absolutely giant tanks in a row. BP may not mean anything for the season, really, but boy it can be impressive even in a grainy youtube feed.
- Lunch offered a couple of treats for us, including this somehow very heart-warming moment of Emerson Hancock visualizing himself throwing at a pro at T-Mobile:
My favorite part of this is when he puts his glove up to receive the toss back to the mound of the invisible baseball from the invisible catcher https://t.co/EfCOgYAaXA— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) July 7, 2020
- Sorry to Ljay Newsome, who was throwing live BP during the time before the livestream came back on line, but this is tremendous content.
So a source sent me the video of Jarred Kelenic’s swing on the homer in live BP. The sound ... pic.twitter.com/82RG82id4t— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) July 7, 2020
Skip ahead to the 20:00 mark to see anything interesting: it’s big Art Warren in a bullpen! Art is going high-socks, which he doesn’t always do, but otherwise there’s not much to report here because of the angle in the ‘pen. But, it’s good to see the Ohio native out, healthy, and throwing. Considering that Warren was throwing a baseball in a sock just about a month ago, throwing in front of several coaches, cameras, and Rapsodo devices must be pretty exhilarating.
The feed switches over to a press box view of infield practice at about the 28:00 minute mark. It is pretty difficult to make anything out, so it’s a relief when the camera goes back to the bullpen at the 33:35 mark to focus on Justin Dunn getting his work in. Since Dunn’s issue is command, there’s not much to be gained from watching a bullpen session where you can’t see where the pitches end up, but it’s still nice to see him out there throwing.
Things go back to unintelligible infield practice after Dunn’s pen, with infield practice, pitcher fielding drills, and pitchers running sprints (Logan Gilbert makes an appearance here, very tall and very slow). The good stuff starts up again at 1:10:00 with a BP group of Austin Nola, Austin Shenton, JP Crawford, and Shed Long. The most important thing to know about that BP group is this happened:
The feed cuts over to Yusei Kikuchi throwing in the bullpen on a very tight shot, then back to the bullpen for the end of the first group and the second group: Kaden Polcovich, Zach DeLoach, Jarred Kelenic, and Cal Raleigh. Scott Servais was tossing BP to this group but if the youngsters were nervous they didn’t show it. DeLoach especially has a very pretty swing and made solid contact all over the zone. Raleigh, who I always forget is a switch hitter and also the size of a cruise ship, showed some big pull power from the left side. He didn’t bring as much power from the right, seemingly, which is odd as that’s his natural side, but maybe he was working on spraying the ball around more than just trying to knock it out of the yard. And Kelenic continued his reign of terror against baseballs everywhere:
Top Mariners prospect Jarred Kelenic launching one into the cheap seats on his final swing of BP. pic.twitter.com/3WEOrWzr8L— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) July 7, 2020
The final group of the day features Donovan Walton followed by Noelvi Marte, today brandishing a pink bat, followed by Jose Marmolejos and then Tyler Keenan and what we have decided is Joe Hudson but might be Patrick Wisdom or someone else entirely. The story here, as it was yesterday, is again Marte, who rifled off several shots, showing no hampering effects from the hyper-American soundtrack of Luke Bryan and GNR:
Noelvi Marte with a deep shot center that just fell short with the swirling winds pic.twitter.com/vMaFCm7ezR— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) July 7, 2020
Clearly it’s the GNR playing that helped Noelvi Marte put this one into the bullpen pic.twitter.com/IvDdHEHrRA— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) July 8, 2020
Similar to the splash Julio made when he first came stateside for Spring Training last year, Marte is quickly becoming must-see BP; you can see his teammates milling around when he’s hitting, eyes on the sky.
It’s early yet, but the youth movement is here in Seattle right this second, and it’s pretty darn entertaining to watch.