Results tagged ‘ Dustin Ackley ’

Spring Training in AZ and PA

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!

Mariners Baseball In The U.S. Capital (6/21/2011)

When the 2011 season scheduled was released, I was extremely excited to see that the Mariners would be making their first trip to Nationals Park.  The downside was that the three game series was mid-week, with one game being a day game.  I really wanted our whole family to attend one of the games so both Kellan and Tim could see the Mariners in only their second trip to D.C.  But real life was not cooperating.

As the series approached, it was certain that we could not attend the second or third games the series because I would be on a brief business trip.  The first game looked like it was effectively out too.  But something happened during the day of the game that all of a sudden made the game possible.  It was such a late call, however, that Colleen (and therefore Kellan too) wasn’t prepared to make the trip down.  So around 3:30 p.m. on June 21, 2011, Tim and I hopped in the car hoping we could at least catch the tail end of BP.

And that is exactly what happened.  We walked in and saw literally two minutes of BP before the Mariners cleared the field.  In fact, it was so quick that we didn’t even get a single BP picture!

With the field empty, we headed into the infield to see if any Mariners were milling around over there.  They weren’t.

So, we hung out down the 3B line and watched the field for a bit.  After a while, the one and only Jason Phillips popped out of the dugout and headed out to the bullpen.  We said our hellos and how-you-doings as he passed by on his way to the bullpen.

Once his colleagues joined Jason out by the bullpen, we snapped this picture of Doug Fister and Chris Gimenez stretching out:

Soon, Adam Kennedy made an appearance down the 3B line:

Kennedy gave Tim a friendly wave, which is always cool to get from a Mariner.

Soon some more Mariners joined Kennedy, including Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley.  This was the first road game of Ackley’s career.  And when a guy in a Mariners fan called out his name and asked for an autograph, he came over…

…and signed for a few minutes.  We didn’t have a baseball yet so we didn’t ask for a signature.  And for some bizarre reason, I didn’t even think of asking Ackley if he would pose for a picture with Tim.  Man, I must have been off my game!

Anyway, before the game started, we headed out to the LF and sat behind the Mariners bullpen.  Actually, before sitting down, we peered down into the bullpen.  Bullpen coach Jaime
Navarro walked by just then, saw Tim, and motioned to us as if to say “hold on, stay right there.”  He then disappeared and reappeared with…

…this lovely Rawlings Official MLB baseball, which he tossed up to Tim.

Thanks, Jaime!

Okay.  It was game time and we were primed for our first Mariners win of the season.  This was only our second Mariners game of the year, and they lost the first game 2-1 to the Orioles in the 12th inning.  It was part of Brandon League’s stretch of losing 4 consecutive games.  Ouch.  So, we needed a win in a big way.

Things started out beautifully.  Tim’s favorite player, Ichiro spanked a single into LF:

Tim then told me to take a picture of Ichiro on first base.  So I did:

Ichiro then took second on a weak ground out by Brendan Ryan.  As Ichi stood on second, Tim told me to take a picture of Ichiro scoring.  And a few seconds later, Adam Kennedy singled
to CF and Ichiro scored:

FYI, Ichiro is directly behind Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos in that picture.  His left leg is visible to the immediate right of Ramos.

Things were going great so far!

The Mariners scored a second run in the first inning when Dustin Ackley …

…singled to RF in this career debut road at-bat.

Doug Fister then came in and shut down the Nationals in the first.  In the process of Fister shutting down the Nats, I got this picture of Ichiro playing RF.

After one inning, the Mariners led 2-0.  We liked it.

We also liked this huge pile of chili nachos that we got before the top of the second inning:

Although it resulted in a nice action shot…

…Ichiro grounded out in the top of the second.  But the Mariners tacked on a third run in the third inning on a Dustin Ackley RBI ground out.  And this is what the scoreboard looked like after three innings:

Not only was the 3-0 score a happy sight, but it was nice to see “Seattle Washington” on the board as well.

Between innings, Screech rolled by on his lazy guy walking machine:

Between innings, we were also happy to find A.L. MVP candidate Larry Bernandez sitting nearby:

Larry Bernandez is an instant Mariners legend that hit the scene this scene.  Great to see him in the OF at this game.  Also, check out the cool 3D effect as Larry’s face matches up with his sign holder’s face!

During the bottom of the third inning, we needed to go on a water run.  As we strolled through the 3B side concourse after filling a bottle with water, Ian Desmond hit a deep fly ball that
Franklin Gutierrez caught to end the third inning.  We were in the concourse above the Mariners dugout, so we scurried down the stairs and nearly caught the ball after Guti flipped it about six rows deep into the crowd.

There were about 8 empty seats right where Guti flipped the ball, so we decided to sit down and give it one more shot at a third out ball.  But before we knew it, we ended up spending five innings sitting in those empty seats.

On this pitch, Franklin led off the top of the fourth with a solid single into CF:

Franklin then stole second and Chris Gimenez…

…, shown here with all-round good guy Greg Halman, struck out swinging.  That led to an 8-pitch at-bat by Mariners pitcher Doug Fister:

On the 8th pitch, Fister bounced a singled into RF and Gutierrez came around to score the fourth Mariners run of the game:

Ichiro and his classic pre-pitch pose…

…followed Fister, but grounded into an inning ending double play.

I don’t know what’s going on in this picture, but Tim looks hilarious:

See all the Mariners fans and people wearing baby blue behind us?  More on them later.

Fister was pitching lights out all night.  I was thinking he could pitch a complete game shut out:

In the top of the fourth inning, Adam Kennedy hit in yet another run.  At that point, the Mariners lead 5-0.  What a game!  We were having a great time!

In the middle innings, I shot a bunch of pictures of Tim in our seats.  Here are a couple of them:

And then I decided to take one with my cellphone to post on Twitter…

…and a couple minutes later the @Mariners replied: “What a handsome young man.”

Thanks, Mariners!

The Nationals finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning when Ian Desmond crossed the plate following a Roger Bernadina single.

On this swing, Ichiro led off the top of the sixth with his second hit of the night:

But he was stranded on base after stealing second base.

Inning-after-inning Justin Smoak tossed third-out-baseball-after-third-out-baseball to the same people:

I’m not sure if he was tossing them to the older gentleman under the red arrow or the younger girl under the red arrow.  Either way, it didn’t matter.  The younger guy under the yellow arrow leapt high in the air and intercepted three of the baseballs (and his dad intercepted another when the yellow-arrow-guy was out of the seats).

Over the course of several innings, I struck up a little conversation with the guy right behind me.  That whole row had super thick southern accents.  I asked the guy behind me how all of those folks became Mariners fans with such thick southern accents.  Turns out, they were Dustin Ackley’s friends and family visiting from North Carolina.

The three girls behind us looked like sisters and my understanding is that they are Ackley’s cousins.  The guy also pointed out Ackley’s father sitting nearby.  His mom and grandparents and a whole slew of other Ackley-people were sitting around us too.  And the Mariners knew it because they were trying like crazy to get a third-out ball to these guys.  One of the balls, in the bottom of the sixth inning, was a double-play ball started by Ackley.  But the Ackley-people got robbed by the guy in front of them every time, and they went home empty handed.

Aside from watching their quest to get a third-out ball, the most interesting thing about sitting by these folks is that they all called Ackley “Dusty” the whole time.  Here’s hoping that Dusty* has a long and stellar career as a Mariner.

Late in the game, Tim got a scrumptious ice cream helmet:

In the top of the ninth, Tim posed with Ichiro:

We were bursting with excitement for the Mariners win that was only three Nationals outs away in the bottom of the ninth.

As the Mariners were warming up for the bottom of the ninth, Tim and I slid into some seats right behind the 3B end of the Mariners dugout.  When Justin Smoak tossed the infield warm up ball in toward the dugout, it bounced off of the netting and back into the middle of the warning track.  But Michael Pineda hopped out of the dugout and grabbed the baseball.  I called out “Hey, Pineda!  Michael!”    He looked up, saw Tim and me above the dugout, and flipped the extremely dirty infield warm up ball to us:

Thanks, Michael!

It was the ninth and the end of a long day, but Tim was still choke full of silly faces:

As things got started in the ninth, King Felix looked our way and gave us a little nod:

A few drops of rain started to fall, and Tim laid back in his seat to track the rain on its way down to earth:

As for the game, even though it was not a save situation and Fister had thrown only 99 pitches and given up 3 hits, Brandon League game came in to attempt to finish out the game.   Jason Werth led off the inning and reached first on an error by Justin Smoak.  Then League walked Roger Bernadina.  Not a good way to start the ninth, but I felt okay with a four run lead.

Ryan Zimmerman then grounded into a double play sending Werth to third with only one out to go in the game.  I was feeling good at this point.

And then I had a stupid, stupid idea.  League worked Jerry Hairston to a 2-strike count.  I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to take a picture of Hairston striking out to end the game for the Mariners win?”  I snapped this picture:

Ball 1.

Then I quickly started thinking that trying to take a picture of the final out of the game was a great way to jinx the Mariners.  But it was too late.  The jinx was on.

Harrison singled to center to score Werth (unearned run number 1 of the inning).  5-2 led Mariners.

Former Mariner Michael Morse then drilled a line drive off of Brandon League’s leg.  League had to leave the game:

No one had been warming up at all.  David Pauley had to jump up and head to the mound cold.  Even though he would get unlimited warm up pitches, it seems like pitchers who come in following an injury to the previous pitcher always struggle.  Pauley was no exception.

Danny Espinosa singled to RF scoring  Harriston (unearned run number 2 of the inning).

Wilson Ramos (who??) crushed a walk-off home run deep into the RCF seats (unearned runs 3, 4, and 5 of the inning).

Mariners lose.  We sat there stunned.  It was painful.  As I sat with my head hung in disbelief, the Mariners looked equally dumbfounded.  Most of the team just stood there for a minute.  Then Adam Kennedy slowly walked off of the field and his teammates started to follow him.

Such a great day of Mariners baseball turned so ugly at the end.

It had truly been a great evening at the ballpark with Tim…right up until the 26th out was recorded.  Aye, aye, aye…

2011 C&S Fan Stats
 
14/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)
14/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs and Angels; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]
9 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1))
43 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels)
6/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field]
11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
4 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
3/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

Spring Training VII: Mariners Intrasquad & FanFest

Okay.  We’re two games into the regular season and I have finally reached our final Spring Training entry.  This is a split entry between a Mariners intrasquad game and the Mariners/Padres Fan Fest at the Peoria Sports Complex.
 
Mariners Intrasquad Game
 
We went to Spring Training for the first week of full-squad work outs.  The first game against another team was the day we left.  But two days before we left, the Mariners played an intrasquad game.  I’d never been to a Major League intrasquad game.  It was pretty cool.  And the Mariners won!
 
The game was on the main Major League practice field (M1).  It was our first opportunity to see Mariners top prospect (and new 5th starter), Michael Pineda, in action.  Here he is pitching to Jack Wilson in the first inning:
1 - Pineda to Jack Wilson.JPGAnd here is Pineda pitching to the Mariners other top prospect, Dustin Ackley:
2 - Pineda to Ackley.JPGI didn’t take many pictures at the game because this is what it looked like from “the crowd” behind home plate:
3 - sparsley populated foul territory.JPGI really wanted to get a foul ball, even it is was with almost no competition at an intrasquad game on a practice field.  Tim clowned around in the grass while I played for foul balls:

4 - Tim clowning around in grass.JPGAnd 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.
 
Here is a diagram of our foul balls snags:
5 - Foul balls for everyone.jpgMy dad generally set up in the grass behind the 3B dugout — about 1/2 way back.  I set up on the walk way (where the long yellow arrow beings) for righties and I shifted behind home plates for righties.
 
My dad ended up getting a foul ball from Chone Figgins in the bottom of the first inning.  He had moved all the way back to the beginning of the short yellow arrow to chat with the “usher” who works by the entrance to the Mariners clubhouse building.  Figgins blooped a little looping foul right over me.  It was either mine or my dad’s for the snagging.  But I had to chase after it, while it was naturally traveling right to my dad.  He scooped it up while I was still about 20 feet behind the ball.
 
A couple innings later, I was on the walkway when Dustin Ackley (lefty) came to the plate.  When he popped a foul straight back, I figured there was no chance I would get it.  But for some reason, the 5-10 guys over in that direction stood motionless while I ran from the walkway all the way to the back corner (next to M7) and scooped up the foul ball.
 
Here is the Ackley foul ball:
6 - ST5 - Dustin Ackley (Intrasquad Foul Ball).JPGPineda was out of the game and I’m not sure who pitched it.  It’ll be cool to have this baseball in years to come when Ackley (hopefully) develops into a star player for the Mariners.
 
After getting that foul, I stopped playing for fouls and met up with the rest of my family at the 3B stands.  I ended up holding Kellan for the rest of the game, and when Mariners “bat boy” Jason Phillips saw us, he tossed a baseball over the fence to us.  That guy is great to us!
 
Thanks, Jason!
 
Kellan ended up falling asleep in my arms as I watched the rest of the game through the fence behind home plate.  Check out this view that you normally just don’t get of major leaguers in action:
7 - Watching Mariners like a high school game.JPGAs shown in that last picture, the Mariners had a two-man umpiring crew working the game.  I’m not sure who they were, but they seemed like regular MLB umps.  However, they could be the guys who work the various rookie/fall/etc. leagues that are played in Arizona throughout the year.  Anyway, despite the high school sized crowd, the umps made the game feel much more official.
 
About ten feet to my right as I watched the game behind home plate was a contingent of top Mariners brass — minority owner/majority owner rep Howard Lincoln, GM Jack Zduriencik, and an unidentified third guy.  After the game, Jack Z. took a minute to chat with me and pose for a picture with me and a folded-up, sleeping Kellan:

8 - Jack Z TJC and sleeping Kellan.JPG
Two guys got picked off second base during the intrasquad game, I told Jack Z. that my advice for the season was to work on not getting picked off 2B.  He shrugged in an “Oh, boy!” manner and said something like, “Oh, yeah, we’ll definitely be working on that.”
 
During the game, when Michael Saunders got picked off second (he just broke for third even before first movement), the third unidentified Mariners exec. busted out in laughter and exclaimed, “Ha!  Does he think he’s wearing an invisible suit!?  He think he’s wearing an invisible suit!”  It can’t be good to have the bosses mocking your boneheaded move like that!
 
A momemt after parting ways with Jack Z., Jack called back to us to introduce us to his wife, Debbie.  It was funny because she wasn’t standing there when I was chatting with Jack, and its not like Jack and I are hang out all the time, but for whatever reason he thought he should come back to introduce me to Debbie.
 
One last game note, although I didn’t get any pictures because I was playing for fouls, Ichiro lead off for Pineda’s team and was 2-2 on the day with two singles.
 
Mariners/Padres Fan Fest
 
On our last full day in Arizona, we attended Mariners/Padres Fan Fest at the Peoria Sports Complex main stadium.  My folks, Tim and I headed over first and Colleen and Kellan joined us after Kellan’s morning nap.
 
When we entered the stadium, Tim was handed a little string backpack with baseball cards, a promotional baseball, and a sharpie from a local baseball card store.  The Padres were on the field.  Right off the bat, I split off from my folks and Tim so I could run over to the Mariners practice fields and see if the guys were practicing before Fan Fest.  They weren’t.  It was the first day of minor league camp and the only guys on the practice fields were minor leaguers.
 
So, I ran back to the main stadium.  I hung out in RF and scanned the stadium for Tim and my folks.  I could not see them anywhere.  While I looked, San Diego Padre Aaron Cunningham…
9 - aaron cunningham.JPG…tossed me a completely unsolicited baseball over the RF bullpen.
 
Thanks, Aaron!
 
Finally, I decided that they must be in the concourse behind the infield grandstand.  Once I headed over there, I found them fairly quickly.  They had been checking out all of the kids stuff set up in the concourse.
 
My mom took these cute pictures of Tim:
10 - funny poser tim.JPGI think they’re both hilarious.
 
They hadn’t played any of the games set up yet, so I got to watch Tim while he tested his skills at a weird batting contraption:
11 - hitting contraption and big baseball.JPGHe also tested his catching skills at a little pop fly station…
12 - catch and throw stations.JPG…and his pitching skills at a pitching station.
 
While Tim took some hacks at the batting tee station…
13 - getting in some tee work.JPG…I chatted briefly with a guy who I thought might be Jack Wilson’s dad (he had a “family pass” and his last name was Wilson), but it turned out he is Josh Wilsons dad.  The funny thing is that he REALLY looked a lot like Jack Wilson.
 
I had heard that the Mariners would be on the field around 11 a.m., and the time was fast approaching.  Colleen and Kellan had arrived by this time.  I grabbed Kellan and headed over to the 1B foul line where players enter the stadium from the clubhouse.  Last season, the “professional” autograph seekers boxed out all the kids during Fan Fest.  So this year, they had a rule that only kids and their adult companions could get into the first couple sections down the 1B line — the best autograph area once the players enter the stadium.
 
The rest of the family met up with us before too long (before the M’s arrived), and Colleen got this picture of Kellan waiting patiently for his Mariners to arrive:
14 - TnK waiting for mariners.JPGWhile we waited, my mom and Tim went over Tim’s kids passport — you got a stamp for each of the throwing, catching, hitting stations and could enter to win something if you did them all — and then my mom pointed out the best spot for Tim to get some autographs:
15 - Gma and Tim plan strategy.JPGAnd that’s just where we set up shop:
16 - Gpa and Tim set up.JPGSoon, our Mariners arrived:
17 - Mariners arrive.JPGAs previously featured in its own entry, the first Mariner we connected with at Fan Fest was Kellan’s first pitcher, Luke French.
 
Tim was all excited about his free promotional baseball.  He got it signed by a bunch of players.  Among them was Jamey Wright…
18 - chatty Jamey Wright.JPG…who literally took 1-2 minutes to chat with each kid as he signed autographs.  He was very cool.  Way to go, Jamie!
 
Tim got an autograph and some bunny ears from the one and only Mariners Moose:
19 - The Moose.JPGAfter all the Mariners had passed by, we got this shot of Tim and Kellan with thier West Coast grandparents:
19a - Grandfolks and Grandkids.JPGHere is a look at Tim’s autopgraph baseball (its too bad he didn’t use a ROMLB for these autographs!):
19b - Tims cheap autoball.JPGAs best as I can tell:
Top Left (top to bottom):  The Mariner Moose, Jamie Wright (#50), and Matt Tuiasosopo (#27).
Top Right (top to bottom):  Chone Figgins (#9), unsure, unsure.
Bottom Left (top to bottom):  unsure, David Aardsma (#53), unsure.
Bottom right (top to bottom):  Justin Smoak, Luke French (#25), Michael Pineda (#36).
 
Next, it was time for the Mariners to take some BP.  My goal for the day was simple:  Catch a homerun hit by Ichiro.
 
I failed.
 
Ichiro hit several homeruns to RF (where we were).  But all but one landed in the bullpen.  My dad should have caught the one that landed on the grass berm, but he was mugged by some out-of-control fan who made everyone miss the ball on the fly (my dad made no effort to dive on the pile for the baseball in the grass).
 
Although I have read that he doesn’t consider himself a particularly good golfer, one of Ichiro’s BP homeruns was a hole in one:
 
20 - Ichiro hole in one.JPGAs illustrated in the picture above, Ichiro’s homerun was coming right at me, but it fell short, hit the back wall of the bullpen (about 5-10 feet below me) and bounced directly into a box on the ground (I think it was the control box for the hose hanging on the fence).  Very impress, Ichi!
 
While Ichiro’s group was batting, Adam Moore was alone in RF shagging baseballs.  When he spotted me and Tim behind the bullpen, he hooked us up with this baseball (which I think, but am not 100% positive, was hit by Ichiro):
 
 
20a - ST8 - Adam Moore.JPGIn my quest to catch an Ichiro homerun ball, I didn’t come up entirely empty handed.  I did manage to make a clean “on the fly” catch of a Justin Smoak homerun along the RCF end of the bullpen:
21 - smoak HR.JPGAfter Ichiro finished hitting, I was certain that he would call it a day and head back to the Mariners clubhouse.  But, to my surprise, he grabbed his glove and headed out to RF.
 
While I was still thinking Ichiro was going to pack up and leave, Tim, my mom and I relocated back to the 1B foul line in hopes of getting a picture with Ichiro on his way out of the stadium.  While we were hanging out over there, Brendan Ryan hit us two foul balls:
                    22 - ST10 - Brendan Ryan.JPG  
23 - ST11 - Brendan Ryan.JPG
 
The first Ryan foul bounced high off of the warning track over a teenaged kid (probably 13-14) and right to me and Tim.  The second Ryan foul ball rattled off of several fans gloves, including that same kid.  I felt bad for him and tried to give him the baseball.  But he declined, explaining that he has about 100 of his own already.
 
Eventually, someone hit a ball down the line and Ichiro looked right at me like he was going to throw it to me.  But Tim had wandered off about 15 feet and Ichiro didn’t seem him.  My mom and I could see the thought process go through Ichiro’s brain, “Oh, I thought that guy had a little boy.  Oh, well, I’ll toss it to that kid over there instead.”
 
My mom and I looked at Tim and in unison we both said, “Oh, Tim, Ichiro wanted to give you that baseball but he couldn’t find you!”  For the next ten minutes, Tim didn’t stray from us at all.  And when the next ball got hit right down the RF line, Ichiro ran over, scooped it up and tossed it right to us:
24 - baseball from Ichiro HOORAY.JPGOur first baseball ever from Ichiro.
 
THANKS, ICHIRO-SAN!
 
Ichiro is hands down Tim’s favorite player.  So its awesome to get a baseball from him.  Tim put his Ichiro baseball right next to his bed with an Ichiro baseball card in a display case next to it.
 
Here is  close up of our Ichiro baseball (below to left)…
                25 - ST12 - Ichiro.JPG    
26 - ST13 - Jack Wilson.JPG
 
…and our final baseball of the day from Jack Wilson (above to right).  The Wilson baseball was funny.  We were back in RF and everyone collectively decided it was time to head out to get some lunch.  As we were leaving the berm in RF, Jack was retrieving a baseball from the warning track just below the bullpen.  I called down, “Hit me over the shoulder, Jack!”  Jack looked up, hiked the ball to himself, rolled out of the pocket to the right, and threw a post pattern to me up on the berm.
 
Thanks, Jack!
 
Thirty seconds later, Jack threw a laser to my dad as he crossed the bridge over the players entrance to the field.  Thanks again, Jack! (on behalf of my dad).
 
Before leaving the stadium, Tim pitched and hit some baseballs at the last pitching and hitting stations.  On one of his final swings, Tim jacked the ball literally out of the Peoria Sports Complex (over that building behind the hitting station):
 
27 - Tim leaves the Complex.JPGThe Moose was watching Tim pitch at the pitching station and afterwards we got this cool picture of Tim and the Moose:
27a - Moose featuring Tim.JPGAfter lunch, we stopped back in at the stadium, but all of the Mariners were gone.  We got some pictures of the Dave Neihaus tribute sign (also a patch the Mariners are wearing this season, which is also featured in our blog banner up top this season):
28 - Mom and Dave MYOHMY.JPGFinally, on our way out to the parking lot, I took some pictures of the Peoria Sports Complex scoreboard…
 
And that was it.  The next morning, I drove by the complex and saw some Mariners milling around by the clubhouse building.  But there was no major league work out due to the first Spring Training game later that day.  Later that day, we caught out plane back to Pennsylvania.  It was a great time at Spring Training, and we left more excited than ever for the regular season to start about a month later.

Spring Training VI: Practice Pictures

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:

1 - pitcher stretching.JPGYou can always expect to see the guys playing a lot of catch at Spring Training:

2 - Ichiro throwing.JPGAbove, 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:

3 - Justin Smoak grounder.JPGJosh Wilson got into the action right next to Smoak:

4 - Josh Wilson grounder.JPGAcross the diamond, Chone Figgins — back at his native third base — got hand cuffed by this grounder, but made the play:

5 - Chone Figgins handcuffed by grounder.JPGBetween 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:

6 - Dustin Ackley grounder.JPGThe 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:

7 - Pineda drills.JPGThis 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:

8 - Felix first grounder of 2011.JPGThe 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:

9 - Jason Phillips fungo.JPGErik 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:

10 - Erik Bedard bullpen.JPGThree or four mounds over from Bedard, King Felix was strutting his Cy Young-stuff:

11 - Felix Hernandez bullpen.JPGIn 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:

12 - Ichiro and Ackley pepper.JPGSomeone peppered a hot one Ichiro’s way and Ichi had to make an acrobatic catch at close range:

13 - catching pepper.JPGWhat 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:

14 - smoak and two balls in air.JPGAs I said, lots of pitcher fielding practice.  Here, Jason Vargas, Luke French and Brandon League handle hot shots back up the box:

15 - vargas french league.JPGAnd here is another hilarious picture of King Felix fielding his position — he did not catch this one:

16 - Larry Bernandez.JPGBut Ichiro caught this one (during outfielder practice on M5):

17 - Ichiro catch.JPGYou 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:

18 - Ichiro stretch pre-batting.JPGOne 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:

19 - Anthony Suzuki glove retriever.JPGMichael Saunders tracks this ball in the birght Arizona sun during outfielders practice on M6:

20 - Saunders ranging.JPGMore pitcher fielding practice — Erik Bedard doesn’t show the best form while snaring this grounder from the short stop position:

21 - Bedard grounders by short.JPGOne last group of photos, all of Ichiro.  I took the picture of Ichiro in the top left (below)…

22 - Ichiro up close.JPG

…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.

Spring Training IV: Player Pictures

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:


1 - Adam Moore ST2011.JPGAt Tim’s first Spring Training in 2008, Adam Moore was the first professional baseball player with whom Tim ever got his picture.  So it was cool to have a little “reunion” picture in 2011.

Moments later, it was Garrett Olson’s turn to pose with Tim:

2 - Garrett Olson ST2011.JPGGarrett is a good guy.

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:

3 - Felix Hernandez ST2011.JPGBy the way, this is as close as we got to a “picture with Ichiro”:

ichisan ST2011.jpgBefore 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:

4 - Eric Wedge ST2011.JPGNote:  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:

5 - Chris Seddon ST2011.JPGIt 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:

Thanks, Chris!

Moments later, David “The D.A.” Aardsma rolled by on his flatbed golf cart and posed for a picture with Tim:

6 - David Aardsma ST2011.JPGD.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:

 

ST6 - Jason Phillips (David Aardsma auto).JPG

Thanks, DA!

I was quite excited to get this picture of Tim with Mariners phenom, Michael Pineda:

7 - Michael Pineda ST2011.JPGBefore 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:

STFAN1 - Michael Pineda auto.jpgThanks, Michael!

Former and new Mariner Miguel Olivo was extremely nice to Tim:

8 - Miguel Olivo ST2011.JPGAfter 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:

ST1 - Chris Seddon (Miguel Olivo autograph).JPGFor our first foray into the 2011 MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt competition, Tim got this picture with Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik:

9 - Jack Zduriencik ST2011.JPGJack is great.  He’s extremely nice and accessible.

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:

10a - Howard Lincoln ST2011.JPGNote:  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…

10 - Milton Bradley ST2011.JPG…Milton Bradley.

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”:

11 - Franklin Gutierrez ST2011.jpgA day or two later, Franklin flew back to Seattle to see a doctor about some mysterious stomach issues he has had since last season.  Franklin also signed a baseball for us:

STFAN2 - Franklin Gutierrez auto.JPGThanks, Franklin!

Next up, Mainers firstbaseman, Justin Smoak:

12 - Justin Smoak ST2011.JPGIf Smoak lives up to his potential, the Cliff Lee trade will end up being a great deal for the Mariners.  So, we’re really pulling for Smoak to find his stroke at the major league level.

This was as good as we could do with respect to getting our picture with top Mariners prospect Dustin Ackley:

13 - Dustin Ackley ST2011.JPGAckley signed this baseball for us but then had to run:

ST4 - easter egg (Dustin Ackley auto).JPGThanks, Dustin!

We also didn’t get a traditional, posed picture with Mariners outfield prospect, Greg Halman:

14 - Greg Halman ST2011.JPGHalman was great.  He really liked Kellan.  He called him “cutie.”  It was pretty funny.  By the way, that ball Halman is signing was thrown to us by Halman earlier in the day.

Thanks, Greg!

We had a nice chat with local Seattle product and all around good guy, Matt Tuisasosopo:

15 - Matt Tuiasosopo ST2011.JPGTui was extremely outgoing and fan friendly all week.  He even chatted up Tim from third base one day during infield drills.

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:

16 - Ryan Langerhans ST2011.JPGHere is a look at that baseball:

ST3 - Greg Halman (Halman, Tuiasosopo, Langerhans and Smoak autos).jpgUpper right:  Greg Halman 56, Matt Tuiasosopo 27

Lower left:  Justin Smoak 17

Lower right:  Ryan Langerhans

Thanks, guys!

At Mariners/Padres Fan Fest at the Peoria Sports Complex’s main stadium, Tim got this picture with Greg Zaun:

17 - Greg Zaun ST2011.JPGIt’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.

As shown in our last entry, Kellan got his picture taken with his first pitcher, Luke French:
18 - Luke French ST2011.JPGLuke also signed Tim’s door prize baseball.

Thanks again, Luke!

Our final picture with a Mariner was this group shot with the Mariner Moose, also at Fan Fest:

19 - The Moose ST2011.JPGAs 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.

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