Mariners unwrap latest offensive additions Hart, Morrison

One day after introducing Robinson Cano, Seattle officially welcomes Corey Hart and Logan Morrison

Staff writerDecember 13, 2013 

Seattle Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik, left, Logan Morrison, second from left, Corey Hart, second from right and manager Lloyd McClendon pose at a news conference introducing newly signed players Friday, Dec. 13, 2013 in Seattle.

KEN LAMBERT — The Seattle Times

Corey Hart and his wife each made a list, they checked it twice.

Their conclusion? They both thought Seattle would be quite nice.

“We talked and said, ‘OK, what are the top five places we want to go?’ And she gave me her five, and I gave her my five,” Hart said. “Seattle was on both.”

Adding Hart’s experience and right-handed bat was certainly on Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik’s wish list, too.

The Mariners sought Hart, a two-time All-Star who has played right field and first base, to make things a little more problematic for opposing teams to pitch around newly signed Robinson Cano.

A day after introducing Cano, Zduriencik and manager Lloyd McClendon officially announced the signing of Hart on Friday to a one-year deal that will pay $6 million with an additional $7 million available in incentives.

They also introduced outfielder and first baseman Logan Morrison, or "LoMo", acquired in a trade from the Miami Marlins for pitcher Carter Capps.

Zduriencik said he would still like to add a pitcher, some bullpen help and a potentially a backup catcher before the 2014 season.

“Before Robinson we needed a veteran, and Willie (Bloomquist) is a great clubhouse guy,” Zduriencik said. “Then Robinson was important to nab a star. Now we needed a right-handed bat and Corey fits that bill. Then Logan came available and it happened really quick. It was like one conversation.”

Their signing appears to create a logjam at first base with Justin Smoak still on the roster. And both Hart and Morrison are coming off significant knee injuries from last season, with Hart missing the entire year.

Hart said he was cleared for full activity two weeks ago and believes he will spend most his time playing the outfield despite microfracture surgeries on both knees.

“When I first started the free agent process, I thought I would only be playing first because of my knees,” Hart said. “But I lost weight and started working out and I was like, ‘Man, I can really move around now.’

“I could realistically play five days a week (in the outfield) or more if need be. I would have thought a lot less a long time ago, but moving around is not an issue.”

Injuries forced Morrison to miss the past two spring trainings with the Marlins. He made his season debut in June last year and only played first base.

“I came back last year still with aches and pains and now I don’t feel that,” Morrison said. “It feels great. The surgery is behind me, and moving to a new team is just another figurative flip of the page for me.

“I don’t care where I play – left, right, first, DH – I don’t care.”

McClendon said Hart, Morrison and Smoak should easily play together on the same days, rotating between the corner outfield spots, first base and designated hitter.

“I think it’s a unique dynamic,” McClendon said. “We will sit down and figure out how it will all work out in spring training, but when you got quality players, that’s a good problem to have.”

Quality would be an understatement by his standards.

“Signing Robinson was tremendous, but then adding these two players was very, very important,” McClendon said. “I would say on a scale of one to 10 it was a 10 because we had to have some legitimization to the lineup. We had to have some guys in place who could be productive and protective of the No. 3 hitter.”

Hart batted around Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Carlos Lee at different times in his 10 seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers, batting .276 with 508 RBI (102 in 2010).

“I’ve been able to get up and drive guys in in those situations,” Hart said. “So I’m all for it. I like driving in RBI as much as anybody.”

Signing Cano was one of many factors in Hart and his wife scribbling Seattle on their destination wish lists. That Seattle holds spring training in Arizona, where Hart lives, was another as was his relationship with Zduriencik, who drafted Hart in the 11th round in 2000, and McClendon – despite playing against him when McClendon, then with the Pittsburgh Pirates, infamously picked up a base and threw it during a 2001 argument with the first-base umpire.

“I like passionate coaches,” Hart said. “I don’t like the guys who are passive and scared to get involved. I like guys who will stand up for their team and he is definitely a guy who will do that.”

“He was probably thinking, ‘What a nut.’ ” McClendon said, laughing. “But I like to think I’m a little older and hopefully a little wiser now.”

TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677

t.cotterill@thenewstribune.com

@Cotterill44

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