PEORIA, Ariz. – It’s weeks too early to read too much into what happens in camp, but the Seattle Mariners on Thursday seemed anxious about their projected starting shortstop, Brendan Ryan.
Ryan threw again lightly, playing catch before taking ground balls. But when the day’s workout ended, manager Eric Wedge and infield coach Robby Thompson pulled two players aside.
Japanese infielder Munenori Kawasaki and Chone Figgins went to a field out of view from most of the media and took ground balls at shortstop for nearly 20 minutes.
Afterward, Wedge insisted it was just a little post-workout session, nothing out of the ordinary.
“Figgy will play all over the place, and he looked comfortable at shortstop,” Wedge said. “Kawasaki will play some second base, shortstop and third base.”
And shortstop Ryan?
“He’s progressing on schedule,” Wedge said.
That’s likely true, although any setback could spell trouble. The shoulder problem Ryan is dealing is the result of an injury last September, when he pinched nerves in his neck.
And Kawasaki, 30, had taken ground balls at shortstop during the workout Thursday – and every day since position players reported. Why suddenly keep him late to take more?
The Mariners hope Ryan is ready for opening day. Pragmatically, they have to prepare for the possibility that he isn’t.
CAMP HEALTH UPDATE
• Rookie outfielder Trayvon Robinson’s tight left hamstring limited his activities to nonrunning work Thursday. He threw, he hit, he did not run. The team will be cautious with him, but it’s not considered serious.
• Franklin Gutierrez, who was held out of outfield drills Wednesday, took part in the full workout Thursday until the team ran. Then he was sent to the clubhouse early. “All it was (Wednesday), they gave me an easy day,” Gutierrez said.
• Designated hitter Luis Jimenez was held back by a sore elbow and took treatment much of the morning.
Mariners players spent part of their morning autographing baseballs and other equipment for the team charities. … Like teammate Robinson, pitcher Blake Beavan has gone to goggle-like glasses while awaiting new contact lenses. Last year, Beavan said, in night games on the road – when the catcher was wearing road grays, not home white uniforms – he often had trouble picking up the signs for what pitch to throw. Yes, that was a problem. … If the team had a hitter of the week contest in batting practice, the winner for position players would be Mike Carp. It seems he hits every pitch he swings at right on the sweet spot of his bat. … Ichiro Suzuki is taking his new role as the No. 3 hitter seriously. He’s widened his stance at the plate, grunting on each maximum-effort swing and hitting more fly balls. In one five-pitch round Ichiro hit two balls over the fence in right field, a third – on a line – off the top of the wall in right center field.
TODAY’S INTRASQUAD LINEUPS
Batting orders for today’s intrasquad game, the first of the spring:
Chone Figgins, 3B
Dustin Ackley, 2B
Casper Wells, LF
Justin Smoak, 1B
Miguel Olivo, C
Munenori Kawasaki, SS
Carlos Peguero, RF
Guillermo Quiroz, DH
Michael Saunders, CF
Jason Vargas, P
Darren Ford, CF
Brendan Ryan, DH
Ichiro Suzuki, RF
Mike Carp, LF
Jesus Montero, C
Kyle Seager, 3B
Alex Liddi, 1B
Luis Rodriguez, 2B
Carlos Truinfel, SS
Dan Hultzen, P