Austin Hilliker, Sports Editor
It’s almost that time again. Sunflower seeds, hot dogs and rally fries. A time when sunshine is consistent and rooting for the home team is encouraged; it’s baseball season.
Spring training for professional baseball has officially started up. The excitement around the sport is unparalleled to anything we’ve seen in awhile, especially for Seattle Mariners fans.
Here’s everything you need to know about the M’s and what to watch for as we get closer to Opening Day of baseball season.
We were so close
It came down to just one game last year. The Kansas City Royals stole the spotlight from the Mariners as they grabbed one of the last playoff spots available.
Left with a bitter taste in their mouths, the Mariners made some wholesale changes with the hope that feeling would never come back again.
In the off-season, the M’s managed to steal out-fielder Nelson Cruz from the Baltimore Orioles. Cruz was the 2014 home-run leader in Major League Baseball. Cruz is expected to give Seattle the upper hand on offense, something that has been a point of emphasis for the clubhouse in recent years.
In addition to Cruz, the Mariners picked up pitcher J.A. Happ from the Toronto Blue Jays. Happ produced quite well for the Blue Jays, holding a 4.22 earned-run-average (ERA) during the 2014 season.
Pitcher Taijuan Walker, a player that has bounced around in the Mariners farm system, also looks to hold his own, and he will most likely be a key component of the Mariners pitching staff throughout the 2015 season. Walker pitched only eight games last year, but has made managed to grow on the M’s clubhouse during his time in Seattle.
Spring training so far
Spring training might not count toward teams overall records in the regular season, but it’s still a time where every player gets the chance to show off their skills during this evaluation process.
So far, the Mariners don’t look too shabby. They have fought through 10 games in spring training and hold a record of 4-5.
Don’t let the record fool you though. It’s hard to evaluate a team only in the spring because the line-ups are constantly changing and some of the more talented players don’t play as much.
Looking to the regular season
Opening Day is closer than we all think. On April 1, the Mariners will open their season against their American League West rivals, the L.A. Angels, in a highly publicized game.
This year looks bright for the Seattle Mariners. Expect an abundance of home-runs from our offense and gold-glove type plays from our defense.
Don’t strike out on an opportunity to miss a great season for another Seattle sports team.