The Mariners and their fans are counting down the days until Opening Day April 6.
‘It means a lot. Every Opening Day means a lot,’ said staff ace, Felix Hernandez, who’ll be making his seventh Opening Day start, but first at Safeco Field since 2007. “There are a lot of expectations and a lot of people watching you so you’re trying to go out there and have a great game.”
The expectations are something Manager Lloyd McClendon doesn’t want his team to worry about. “Lloyd definitely addressed it already,” said reliever Danny Faquhar. “He didn’t want us to get caught up in anything. He tried to let us know that last year is last year, and we have to move forward and try to reproduce what we did last year.”
Focusing on the future will be easier with newcomer Nelson Cruz, who led the American League last year with 40 home runs. His power is impressive, but he says the media attention last year forced him to talk more about home runs than he prefers. He’d rather you pay attention to a different stat.
“I think homers are going to come and they look good but RBIs are the most important thing because it shows I’m helping the team and scoring runs,” Cruz said.
Robinson Cano is excited to have Cruz on the team. “What I appreciate is what he can bring to the team as a hitter,” Cano said. “I’m a lefty. I can help other lefties. [With] Cruz coming in, he can make right handers better because of the way they’re going to pitch to him.”
ROOT SPORTS will be tracking Cruz’s home runs throughout the season on Mariners All Access, as well as showing you specific grips used by Mariners pitchers on the mound. Did you know, for instance, that Charlie Furbush grips his two-seam fastball differently to most pitchers? And coming up in two weeks on Mariners All Access, Felix Hernandez will pull back the curtain on how he throws his devastating changeup and reveal how he developed that pitch.
Join ROOT SPORTS every week from the field and inside the clubhouse for the best highlights, and interviews from your favorite players.
Tune in throughout the season. ROOT SPORTS is available as part of BendBroadband’s Essentials and Preferred TV packages on channel 20 and 620 HD. Check out their daily programming schedule for what’s on.