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Seattle debuts

Guillen, Suzuki get first taste of what season has in store

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Posted: Friday March 02, 2001 12:37 PM

 

Throughout spring training, CNNSI.com will feature regular dispatches from Sports Illustrated staffers assigned to scout camps in the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues.

By Jamal Greene, Sports Illustrated

TEAM: Seattle Mariners

SITE: Peoria, Ariz.

WEATHER: 60 degrees and sunny with a light breeze

PLAYER I SAW WHOM I REALLY LIKED: Carlos Guillen. Guillen's assignment to take over at shortstop this season is similar to that which was given centerfielder Mike Cameron last year: replace a living legend. Cameron had to fill the shoes of Ken Griffey Jr., while Guillen is stepping in for the departed Alex Rodriguez. Returning to his natural position after playing third base most of last season, Guillen recorded four crisp assists in four innings against the San Diego Padres on Thursday -- including a snazzy play in which he ranged up the middle and fired to first. At the plate he was 1-for-3, lashing a sharp single to right in his second at-bat. He later reached third on a David Bell single, hustling and sliding hard into the bag even though it was only a charity game and he had torn his ACL two years ago. Also, he had no errors -- a stat worth noting considering that Guillen committed 21 in 91 games last year.

AROUND THE HORN

  • The Padres beat the Mariners 4-3 on Thursday in an exhibition of an exhibition. The two teams, which share the 145-acre Peoria Sports Complex, played the seventh annual City of Peoria charity game which benefits Peoria-area youths. The statistics and result do not count in official Cactus League records. Said Mariners public relations director Tim Hevly before the game, "Don't be surprised if you see four outs in an inning."

  • Ichiro Suzuki, listed on the Mariners roster simply as Ichiro, made his American debut Thursday. The swarm of media around the diminutive right fielder-- the first Japanese position player in major league baseball -- was more spectacular than his performance in the game, though Ichiro did ground a weak single into center in his first at-bat ("Thanks to bad fielding by the pitcher, I was able to get a hit," he said later). The game aired live in Japan on NHK-TV, but could be neither seen nor heard in the Pacific Northwest. Dozens of members of the Japanese media, including four television crews, camped out hours prior to the game to get a shot of Ichiro. One Japanese journalist even charted his hits in batting practice. Said Ichiro of the throng, "I'm used to media but it's still very hard."

  • It may have been only an exhibition game, but the players still cared. Bell was ejected by home plate umpire Rob Drake in the fifth inning for arguing balls and strikes. He complained to Drake about an inconsistent strike zone. "I wasn't even thinking about the new strike zone," said Bell. "You can't call it both inside and outside. I can understand if it's on the black, but these were far outside." Asked about a possible league fine for being tossed, Bell laughed. "Since it was a charity game, maybe I'll give it to charity," he said.

  • During pregame warmups, Mariners manager Lou Piniella donned Cameron's sleek wraparound sunglasses and tried to shag flies with the outfielders. Both balls he "fielded" landed several feet in front of him as he cowered in fear. The performance brought to mind Piniella's playing days -- in particular, the Yankees' 1978 American League East playoff game against the Boston Red Sox. Piniella lost Jerry Remy's fly ball in the sun, but pretended to have it all the way in order to keep baserunner Rick Burleson from advancing.

    Sports Illustrated reporter Jamal Greene will check in periodically with reports from his tour of spring camps.


     
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